Health Benefits of Pu-Erh Tea: Unveiling Nature's Miraculous Powers
Pu-erh is a very appreciated tea variety in Chinese culture. Discover what the health benefits of Pu-erh are and why was this tea so appreciated by Chinese emperors.
Pu-erh tea is a special tea variety which has its origins in the Chinese province of Yunan. This tea variety has a long history that can be traced as far as the Han Dynasty, starting with the year 202 BCE. Pu-erh tea undergoes a very long process of fermentation and maturation, which is considered to be China’s unique production style. Pu-erh tea inherited its name from the trading post with the same name, Pu-erh City which used to be the selling point of dark tea during imperial China.
Pu-erh tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant, just like the other tea varieties, green, white, black and oolong tea. Though the source plant is the same, the tea varieties are different because of their processing styles. While green tea is not fermented at all, oolong tea is just partially fermented and black tea is fully fermented, pu-erh being the tea variety which can be considered post-fermented. This means that the processing of this tea variety includes both fermentation and then prolonged storage or “aging” under high exposure to humidity.
Pu-erh is known to be moderate in taste, not so strong though it is a dark tea featuring brown to black color. It improves in taste and flavor over time and aged pu-erh tea is really sweet. It is a tea variety appreciated in China for centuries, but recently discovered in Western countries. Pu-erh is known to have a role in reducing cholesterol level and helping digestion, refreshes the mind and it is actually good after heavy partying with lots of alcohol because pu-erh tea dispels the effects of drinking.
Pu-erh Tea and Heart Disease
A study conducted at China’s Kunming Medical College made on 86 patients with unusually high levels of blood cholesterol showed that pu-erh tea is highly effective when it comes to reducing the level of cholesterol, thus protecting the health of the heart and the entire cardiovascular system. The study compared the effects of pu-erh tea with the ones of a cholesterol lowering drug called PCIB. 55 of the patients were given a cup of pu-erh tea three times per day, while the other ones received the drug. Pu-erh tea drinkers showed a 64.29% reduction in blood cholesterol levels, while the drug receivers a percent of 66.67. The difference between the drug and the tea is really insignificant.
Another study published in the “Journal of Gerontology”, wanted to test both non-fermented (green) and fermented (black) pu-erh tea regarding the cholesterol level issue. This time the tests were made on rats. The conclusion was that the fermented variety of pu-erh reduced the cholesterol level in the blood of the test subjects. So, pu-erh tea is efficient in fighting against high cholesterol levels which protects the heart’s health.
Pu-erh and Cancer Prevention
Pu-erh tea has its origins in the leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant which makes it also rich in antioxidants. This means that pu-erh tea is also rich in a special antioxidant compound named catechin which is believed to help the body fight against cancer. This time the less processed variety of pu-erh known as the green pu-erh variety is the one which is high in catechins. Catechins in pu-erh tea are believed to be responsible for preventing the cancer cells to develop in the body. We still have to mention one thing when it comes to cancer prevention. All the studies regarding cancer that concluded that tea helps in cancer prevention were made on animals. The studies made on human patients are still inconclusive and there is a debate in the medical world about tea’s effectiveness when it comes to this particular disease.
Pu-erh Tea and Obesity Control
Pu-erh tea was used for centuries by the Chinese people to help them control their body weight and it seems nowadays this particular health related effect is highly appreciated by tea enthusiasts. In a study conducted by the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from USA, pu-erh has shown its efficacy in reducing body weight and what is more interesting is the fact that pu-erh is much more efficient than any other tea variety regarding the weight loss issue. The chemical compounds that are thought responsible for the anti-obesity effect are the antioxidants such as catechins and the caffeine. This study also showed that pu-erh tea is effective in reducing the fat content in the liver.
Pu-erh and Side Effects
Pu-erh is made from Camellia Sinensis leaves, so consumed in high quantities, meaning more than five cups per day, can result in different mild to serious side effects such as headache, nervousness, sleep problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremor, heartburn, dizziness, ringing in the ears, convulsions, and confusion. It is also not recommended in large amounts during pregnancy and breast feeding because of the caffeine component. The excess of pu-erh tea in pregnancy or breast feeding period can result in miscarriages or an infant with sleep problems. Consumed in small amounts like one or two cups per day, pu-erh tea is harmless.
Pu-erh tea can also have some negative impact on those of you with sensitivity to caffeine or for those of you who have never tried tea before. Pu-erh tea can upset some sensitive stomach, especially if the newly tea drinkers have some ulcers and other gastric unresolved issues. My advice to you is to take your time and enjoy tea and not drink it on an empty stomach, especially the black pu-erh variety.
Like any other tea variety, pu-erh tea has its specific health benefits and side effects and must be enjoyed without making any excess or without seeing it as the only treatment possible. Remember that pu-erh tea is still a tea variety which needs much more studying and research to be done and you shouldn’t renounce to see your doctor whenever you have health problems.
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