Most Americans have never heard of pu-erh tea before. However, a small number of devotees within the tea-drinking community enjoy this Eastern delicacy.
Pu-erh tea was first popularized by the Han Dynasty in China all the way back around the year 25CE. It is treasured for its many health benefits.
Most notability, it possesses unique fat-burning properties different from any other tea.
I’ll get into the entire array of benefits of drinking pu-erh in just a moment. But first, I want to share a little back story on this remarkable tea.
Pu-erh is different than most teas, as it undergoes a natural fermentation process and is aged like a fine wine.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Pancrat
Only tea that comes from the Yunnan province of China can be called and sold as pu-erh tea.
The farmers in these regions treat the pu-erh leaves as delicately and with as much care as a winemaker would handle grapes on the hillside of Tuscany.
Each different farmer in the Yunnan province produces their own special type of leaves. These range from the tips and strong stems grown on estate-cultivated plants … to the highly prized large and soft, silver leaves picked from plants and trees that grow wild on the hillsides.
Some trees are said to be over 1,000 years old. And that’s good news, as pu-erh purists say that older leaves have better flavor.
The finest pu-erh teas in the world have been aged for over 100 years and attract only the most devoted tea drinkers to pay over $10,000 for a "cake."
Don’t worry, though. You can find authentic pu-erh at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and Fresh Market, for $10-$20.
So now, let’s jump into some of the most noteworthy aspects of drinking pu-erh tea.
A fat-burning machine
During the fermentation process, microorganisms form on the pu-erh leaves, specifically bacteria known as aspergillus niger and saccharomyces.
Once consumed, A. niger and saccharomyces (both fungi) are utilized by your GI system as a source for beneficial digestive enzymes to take action.
These enzymes work with bacteria to break down foods as they enter the GI tract.
They break down carbs, fats and proteins into simpler substances that allow the healthy bacteria to utilize them.
Basically, what’s happening is your body is able to use food as a fuel source more efficiently. In turn, this can prevent excess weight gain you might more normally experience.
The fat-burning ability of pu-erh is a two-headed spear, since it can contain as much as 100 milligrams of caffeine in a standard cup. (To compare, an 8-ounce cup of black tea could contain about 47 mg, while a similar amount of coffee can have 150 mg on average.)
The fat-burning effects of caffeine are very well-proven …
Caffeine jumpstarts the process of lipolysis, which is when your body releases free fatty acids into the bloodstream. Meaning, caffeine boosts your metabolism and helps you burn fat.
We all know and love the energy boost we get from caffeine, too. That’s because it allows us to perform physical tasks with more intensity, and for longer periods of time.
What makes pu-erh different than other caffeine source is that it contains the amino acids theanine and GABA. These produce calming effects in the body.
If you can remember a few months ago I wrote an article about combining coffee and theanine together to avoid common side effects of coffee like "jitters" and "crashing."
The beauty of pu-erh is that it naturally contains these elements, giving you a longer-lasting and smoother energy boost.
But the health benefits of pu-erh go far beyond just fat-burning and energy.
Here are a few of the other standout aspects of including pu-erh in your daily diet.
Antioxidant powerhouse — Pu-erh contains a ton of antioxidants and is very anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants are natural phyto-chemicals that help the body fight off free-radical molecules and prevent diseases.
Digestion relief — The microorganisms we talked about before also increase the overall healthy bacterial flora in the stomach and intestines, which helps with proper digestion of foods. A healthy gut biome is crucial for everything from preventing inflammation to preventing neurodegenerative diseases.
Cleanses the body — In China, pu-erh tea is traditionally considered to open the meridians, "warm the middle burner" (the spleen and stomach) and be beneficial to cleansing your blood of toxins.
The microorganisms in pu-erh’s fermentation process have been shown to attack the toxins in the blood, removing them from the body.
All around, pu-erh is one of the healthiest drinks around and something everyone should consider trying out.
We would love to know if you have already tried pu-erh before and your experience with the ancient tea. And let us know if, after reading this article, you plan on trying some pu-erh for yourself.
Happy and healthy investing,