What Is Pu-Erh?

california-tea-house-what-is-pu-erh-camellia-sinensisPu-erh or Pu’er tea has become a household name in weight loss and cholesterol control ever since the ubiquitous Dr. Oz named it as one of THE best teas for weight loss. Ever.

Whether this is true or not, one thing we all agree with is how awesome Pu-erh is. Seriously, there’s nothing like a good cup of this awesome dark drink with which to start the morning!

So where does this tea come from?

Pu-erh is a kind of fermented dark tea. Like most teas, it comes from China, the Yunnan province of China to be specific. This fermentation process is a Chinese specialty that produces a tea called “Hei Cha” or “black tea”. While it’s translated as black tea, it’s not the same black tea that we’re familiar with. Our black tea is China’s “red tea”. (Confusing, yes?)

Pu-erh comes from the plant called Camellia Sinensis, the same plant where green, oolong, and black tea (the Western black tea, not the Chinese black tea) comes from.

It begins as a raw product called “Mao Cha” or “rough tea”, or is pressed into different shapes and sold as “Sheng Cha” or “raw tea”. These are then fermented and matured with time.

There’s another process called “Wo Dui”, which was developed by two Chinese tea factories. This process produces a pu-erh product called “Shou Cha” or “ripe tea” and is then stored either loose or pressed.


Whether “Mao Cha”, “Sheng Cha”, or “Shou Cha”, any of these three types can be stored and matured before being consumed.

Pu-erh contains antioxidants and other of those good stuff that could help with the protection of the heart and blood vessels. Unlike other teas, it has small amounts of a chemical called lovastatin - which is used as a medicine for lowering cholesterol.

It is said that pu-erh tea helps in lowering bad blood fats called triglycerides and LDL (low-density lipropotein) cholesterol. It could also increase the good cholesterol called HDL (high-density lipoprotein). So Dr. Oz wasn’t exactly bluffing when he claimed pu-erh is good for cholesterol control.

Pu-erh tea also has caffeine, but not as much caffeine as other kinds of teas. Nevertheless, it’s enough to allow me to stay mentally alert throughout the day. More than five cups a day, though, and my heart starts to race! Seriously, don’t try that at home, folks!

(Photo credit: "Xiaguan Te Ji Tuo Cha 2004". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)


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