The Beauty of Pu-erh

A recent blog post on Lifehack.org detailed a variety of hobbies that allegedly help make one a better boss. “Drinking tea” wasn’t on the list — I’m not sure it qualifies as a hobby, per se. On the other hand, exercise, yoga, and meditation — all ways to better care for your mind and body — were all suggested … and from that perspective, drinking tea certainly fits the bill.

Tea has long been recognized for its health benefits, and none more so than Pu-erh tea. Grown exclusively in specified areas of China, Pu-erh tea leaves go through a drying and fermentation process. The result is both a dark, rich flavorful tea … and the creation of micro-organisms known to be beneficial to the human body.

Of the five main types of tea (including white, green, oolong and black), Pu-erh’s fermentation process makes it unique in its contributions to overall health. There are multiple varieties of Pu’er tea, but they mostly all fit into a couple of common categories: Ripe and Raw. Instead of natural aging, ripe, or “cooked,” Pu’er has been fermented through a man-made process. Raw (unaged) Pu’er generally tastes more like green tea.

Here are five specific health benefits of drinking Pu-erh. Please note, however, that I’m not a medical professional, and in no way am I suggesting you attempt to use Pu-erh instead of following your doctor’s advice and guidelines.

Pu-erh Can Help Lower Cholesterol

Long-term studies have shown that over time, drinking appropriate amounts of Pu-erh tea has the potential to lower LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad one) and increase levels of HDL (the good one). The microbial aging of Pu-erh tea produces lovastatin; the longer the tea is aged, the more it benefits. Lovastatin is a natural statin, but a synthesized version is commonly prescribed for the treatment of high cholesterol. Extensive use of Pu-erh has seen cholesterol levels drop as much as 90 points or more in some cases.

Pu-erh Can Aid in Digestion and Cleansing

In traditional Chinese herbalism, Pu-erh tea is considered an aid to blood cleansing and digestion. How so? Well, many of the things we consume — even healthy foods — contain acids and other free radicals. Over time, these things can build up in the body, but drinking Pu-erh tea can help cleanse these toxins from the blood. Pu-erh can also increase the levels of healthy bacteria in the stomach and intestines, making it easier to digest foods (especially after a heavy meal.)

Pu-erh Can Contribute to Weight Loss

While not a fad diet or miracle cure, Pu-erh tea has been shown to significantly suppresses fatty acid synthesis (FAS), which is the body’s fat production. In other words, it can actually retard your liver’s fat-creating process, effectively blocking your body from producing more fat. At the same time, it’s been clinically proven to boost enzymes your body uses to “unlock” the content of fat cell. The body burns more fat because Pu-erh helps it access and mobilize the fatty acids in fat cells.

Pu-erh Can Help Reduce Stress and Promotes Sleep

Most people wouldn’t even consider a hot cup of Pu-erh as a sleep aid due to the caffeine common to all teas. Nevertheless, Pu-erh can help with sleep due to specific elements in the tea that reduce stress levels and increase production of melatonin. The result is less restlessness, stabilized mood, and deeper, more consistent sleep cycles.

Pu-erh Can Help Prevent Illness

Like most teas, Pu-erh contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants help the body fight off free radical molecules and prevent disease. Pu-erh teas often have a higher concentration of these antioxidants than other teas, largely because of the fermentation process that the tea undergoes.

Pu-erh tea has been harvested for over 1,700 years; the medicinal and health benefits have been touted for centuries, but modern science is just now starting to prove those benefits through clinical studies. I’m a big fan of Pu-erh, and think it’s worth your while to explore the many varieties of this healthy and rewarding tea.