If one thing’s for sure, the list of teas hailing from the Far East is long. From green tea to chai to jasmine tea to chrysanthemum tea, we could go on for ages! And aside from the variety of flavors, what exactly constitutes the differences between any given tea? Are certain teas better for certain people, meal accents, times of day, or medical conditions?
“Pu’er” is one such “speciality” tea. Its namesake originates from Pu’er county in Southern China. As opposed to the kinds of green teas we often associate with Asian cultures, fermented Pu’er tea is a “black” or “red” tea, and unlike the light, crisp flavors of a green tea, pu’er tea has an earthy, rich quality to it. Like fine wine, pu’er tea’s taste improves with age. Deliberately aged to add quality and value, the pu’er tea option offers a much stronger brew for those of us in need of something darker, more full-bodied, and, perhaps best of all for our Western preferences – more caffeinated! Need something to wake yourself up in the morning? Drinking pu’er tea is a great way to start off the day – or to pick it back up during that dreaded afternoon lull.
But Pu’er’s value extends far beyond its ability to wake us up. Pu’er tea is also widely renowned for its medicinal qualities. Pu’er tea can be especially helpful on those mornings that follow late nights – the Chinese firmly believe in pu’er tea’s ability to combat the effects of a nasty hangover. Studies have also shown that pu’er tea may help promote a healthy heart by reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL). Research has indicated pu’er tea’s ability to maintain proper blood sugar levels, provide a source of antioxidants (key fighters against cancer and promoters of cell health), and promote spleen health.
Perhaps most exciting, though, is pu’er tea’s ability to aid in weight loss. These tealeaves may suppress the liver’s expression of fatty acid synthase (FAS). In other words, if you drink pu’er tea – specialists recommend about one hour after a meal – the tea can actually help your body metabolize fat. Pu’er tea speeds up the movement of fat from the stomach to the colon, thereby giving your body less time to absorb the fat in meals. Since pu’er tea affects the speed of digestion, the time of day at which you drink pu’er tea is key to invoking its weight-loss benefits. Are you a night owl? Drinking a cup of tea in the middle of the night (on an empty stomach), and then skipping breakfast in the morning can help accelerate weight loss as well.
Does this give the dieter license to eat all the fatty foods their heart desires? Unfortunately, no – like any rational, healthy diet plan, pu’er tea is most effective when taken as part of a healthy diet and exercise program. Nor will cutting out all foods and chugging pu’er tea all day help improve health, but certainly replacing sugary, fizzy drinks with a healthy cup of pu’er tea will complement any weight loss program, and certainly improve your overall health!
Not sure where or how to buy the right pu’er tea? Here’s a list of on-line vendors where you can choose your pu’er tea: