PUERH TEA , an Introduction
1. Place of Origin:
Pu-erh Tea is also transcribed as Puerh Tea in English. It is a rare and original tea from the Pu Erh region of Yunnan Province in South West China. Puerh tea is also known as “pu’er” in some western countries. Pu Er itself is a city now famous for its peculiar production of Puerh tea. Originating in ancient China and gradually spreading throughout China from the Ming Dynasty onwards, this tea became widely known and much loved by the Chinese people in the Qing Dynasty. During the Qing Dynasty it was often used as a diplomatic present to other countries including Portugal, The UK, France, USA, Spain, and Russia. It has recently featured as the National Tea during these last Olympics.
2. History of Puerh Tea
Puerh tea is one of the oldest types of tea in China with a rich history of over 1700 years that can be traced back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). During its height of popularity Puerh tea was freely traded and even used as money for the bartering of goods. Premium Puerh tea was offered as a tribute tea to the Emperor of China and to this day Puerh tea remains a highly valuable commodity. Puerh tea is revered in China as a traditional medicinal tea with many health benefits.
Not far from Pu-Er city in the areas of Xishuangbanna and Simao, in the south of Yunnan Province, the cultivation and processing of Puer tea is still carried out today. With an altitude of up to 2000 metres, it is high up in these mountains where the air is fresh, cool and crisp, amidst scenes of unspoilt beauty and fertile lands that you will find the tea plantations for this unique tea. The secrets for processing Puerh tea are carefully guarded and in the past, trespassers mistaken as spies have been known to be killed on private tea plantations. To this day the tea secrets for Puerh production remains ruthlessly guarded and it is only in China where genuine Puerh tea can be produced.
A popular and insightful story about Puerh tea tells of a father who made top grade fine Puerh teas for the Emperor as a Tribute. He let his son take the tea to the Emperor in the capital, which is far away from Pu Er Town. When the son arrived in the capital, he found the Puerh Tea had changed colour from a fresh green to a dark red colour. However, after he had tasted the tea he found that it gave out an unexpected fragrant purity with a sweet aftertaste and, of course, after the Emperor drank the tea, the Emperor was very pleased. Since then, Puerh tea has developed its great reputation all over China. Some Puerh teas are stored and left to mature for decades like classic wines. These premium teas can fetch astronomical prices at auctions and are worth their weight in gold, and more – as is often the case.
3. Production Process
Throughout Chinese tea history Puerh tea is well known for its unique ability to undergo a post fermentation process designed for further aging. Like classic wines, this aging process allows these fine teas to develop an added complexity to their character and composition whilst shedding their harsh and youthful elements. The active microbes living within the tea has lead Puerh tea to be known as the “Living Tea”. This continuous evolution is very exciting for collectors of Puerh tea who like to study closely the transformation of their fine teas year after year. Many believe that it is from these active microbes that Puerh tea gains its many health benefits and hence has become known as a traditional ‘medicinal’ tea with restorative powers.
4．Types and Flavours
Puerh tea can be sorted into two kinds:
1) Raw tea (Sheng Cha) which is similar to green tea in its colour
2) Ripe tea (Shou Cha) which is dark red colour and which people call “Black”
The first kind – Raw Puerh tea is naturally Fermented by storage and time, and the second kind, the Ripe Puerh tea is quickly fermented by a man-made method.
Puerh tea has a wide spectrum of taste and aroma which is very compelling and at times uncompromising ! Ranging from the lightly floral, to honey and heather, or jujube and fruits to fresh grass, wood and camphor, the taste and aromas of these fine teas are exceptionally varied. The colour of young Puerh tea can start from the golden yellow of summer hay before developing into a deeply reddish brown reminiscent of the sunset. Black Puerh has an imposing aroma of the special fresh air from the earth – comparable to the sweet fragrance of mineral deposits emerging from deep within the forest floor after a heavy downpour. Good Puerh tea has an excellent clarity and clean flavours that is warming to both the body and soul.
5. Puerh Tea Function & Effect:
Because of the rich composition of Yunnan’s big-leaf tea and its unique method of processing，Puerh tea contains rich health-promoting microbial ingredients such as Aspergillus niger and lactobacillus, all of which are products of the post-fermentation process which induced complicated，drastic enzyme-producing reactions in the polyphenol components. For this reason，Puerh tea is especially effective for enhancing human metabolism and promoting people’s health. Based on its key composition，here are the major functional attributes which have been ascribed to Pu-erh and which have been recently tested out in China:
a. Puerh tea is most effective in promoting digestion, clearing up phlegm, removing stasis，clearing away stomach heat and promoting the production of body fluids.
b. Puerh tea will help you eliminate anxiety and recover your high spirits. Cold Puerh tea may help clear away body heat, keep you in a sober mind and bring you to a peaceful and calm state.
c. Puerh tea has obvious lipohemia-reducing functions. Results of the newest study showed that five servings of black Puerh tea per day reduced LDL (’bad’) cholesterol by 11.1 percent and total cholesterol (TC) by 6.5 percent in mildly hypercholesterolemia adult study participants. The study was to examine the effect of Puerh tea on blood lipids while all other components of the diet were kept constant.
d. Puerh tea has proved far more effective in reducing cholesterol than astromid-S. It should also be mentioned that drinking Puerh tea for quite a long time does not induce any side effects. Recent study shows that Puerh tea may curb 41% of the deep compounding of cholesterol in the liver.
e. Drinking Yunnan Puerh tea helped over 40% of patients to loose weight to some extent， particularly patients aged 40 – 50. 30% of patients effectively reduced their ester-containing compounds，and 33% of the patients saw moderate effects in reducing their ester-containing compounds. Puerh tea has also been proved effective to some extent in reducing triglyceride， cholesterol and uric acid in the blood. So it would seem from these studies that Puerh tea can help people slim.
f. Puerh tea can improve the spleen and liver function, and help the liver to expel toxins and fluids (as a diuretic).
g. Puerh tea can help balance the metabolism, and contains many vitamins and enzymes which help keep you in a good mood.
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