What is Pu-erh Tea?
Made from the stems and leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, Pu-erh Tea is a traditional beverage in China. Although made from the same plant as white, green, and black tea, Pu-erh is post-fermented. Obtaining this type of tea requires both fermentation and aging of the leaves and stems, under high humidity and for long periods of time. It is produced mainly in the Yunnan district of China.
Pu-erh has been used as traditional medicine ever since its discovery and mass production. It contains caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system, heart, and muscles. It also contains antioxidants that help preserve heart health and blood vessel integrity. This beverage also contains lovastatin, a compound that is very efficient in lowering cholesterol. Pu-erh is also used as a main ingredient in Kou Tea.
This popular beverage originated in the Yunnan province of China, during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE). In the 7th century, China began exporting compressed, aged Pu-erh Tea. In order to make transport easier, the producers experimented with various methods of compression and storage, only to find out that the quality of tea improved with age, within a certain time frame.
It was consumed extensively in hard to reach parts of the country, such as Tibet and Hong Kong, where the population consumed hard to digest foods and needed this tea for better digestion. Being very affordable for the common man, Pu-erh became very popular and remains so to this very day.
Although considered a drink for the common man, many Emperors consumed this tea regardless of this. The taste and beneficial properties of Pu-erh were recognized throughout the land, and it became a tribute tea during the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), one of the highest honors. It was officially picked and served as a tribute to the Royal Court and this meant that tea business with Pu-erh was very prosperous.
In 1879, French and British traders set up customs offices in Simao, and Pu-erh exports increased dramatically, being traded and consumed all over the world.
How to brew
- Pick out the Pu-erh tea variety you would like to brew and place it in a teapot.
- Rinse the leaves with hot water for a few seconds and discard the water.
- Add fresh, boiling spring water to the teapot.
- Brew for about 3 minutes.
- Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve.