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If you drink tea regularly, you may know your Ceylon from your Sencha or your gunpowder from your Earl Gray. But pu-erh tea? It’s a bit different from the others, and drinking might come with its own benefits.
Like black and green tea, pu-erh tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis Plant. Pu-erh leaves, however, are prepared a little differently as the leaves are fermented and aged over long periods of time (often, Years) before they are packed in bricks or cakes.
This special process means that pu-erh, which originated in Yunnan, China and has been consumed for around 1
What Science Says TBH, the research on pu-erh tea isn’t particularly robust. Let’s look at something is known about this particular brew, hey?
Again, the number of quality studies on pu-erh tea is not very large, and much of the research available has been done on animals. So take this as a potential Perks, people.
It could help you lose a few pounds
Some small studies show that ingesting high doses of pu-erh tea extract – which is much more concentrated than drinking pu-erh tea – is linked to weight loss, reduced body mass index, and less belly fat.
The fat burning power could come from gallic acid, a compound with known weight loss effects in animals.
It can make your belly happy
Fermented teas like Pu-Erh contain polysaccharides, naturally occurring sugars that promote healthy microbial communities in the gut – which in turn aids healthy digestion and keeps your immune system in fighting shape.
It stabilizes blood sugar
Pu-erh tea has been shown to significantly lower fasting blood sugar levels in mice – and the more material the mice were given, the better their glycemic control became.
At the moment there is no evidence that this applies to humans either, but since pu-erh tea is naturally sugar-free, it definitely won’t be the case with a sip injured Your blood sugar level.
It can help keep cholesterol in check
Pu-erh seems to help your body excrete more dietary fat (which is bound to bile acid through your poop) and prevent excess fat from building up in the body. And those two things could potentially help keep cholesterol from clogging your arteries.
It protects the blood vessels
The brew has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects (thanks, antioxidants!) That appear to fight chronic arteriosis. This can keep the arteries healthier overall and reduce the risk of conditions like atherosclerosis, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
It could have cancer-fighting effects
Test-tube studies have shown that pu-erh tea extracts kill several types of cancer cells, including breast and colon cancer. That’s not to say drinking the tea can actually be used to treat cancer – far from it. But it’s a good starting point for researching future treatments.
It can support liver health
Since pu-erh tea plays a role in eliminating excess fat and fighting inflammation, it could help reduce your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
So far, the results have only been demonstrated in animals, and research has focused on highly concentrated pu-erh tea extract, not the actual brew.
Pu-erh is traditionally viewed as a drink that can help with weight loss. And if you google a quick google (go ahead, we’ll wait), there’s no shortage of claims touting the brew’s fat-burning powers. But does one sip actually help you achieve your weight loss goals?
The answer is … maybe. Pu-erh tea extract has been shown to promote the burning of stored fat and even prevent new fat from building up, albeit in animals and test tubes.
There is also evidence of pu-erh extract that may help with blood sugar control – and constant glucose levels can be a good thing for weight loss.
As for the evidence for actual people? A small study of 36 adults showed that taking pu-erh tea extract three times a day for 12 weeks resulted in lower BMI and weight loss, and a subsequent study of 59 adults showed similar results.
The thing to note? Pu-erh tea extract is much more concentrated than a simple cup of pu-erh tea. Which means you shouldn’t end up expecting a pu-erh cup or two daily to shed bigger pounds.
But if you drink it regularly, you can support the other things you do to lose weight – namely, eat right and exercise.
Brewing pu-erh is similar to brewing any other cup of loose-leaf tea. Boil the water and pour a generous splash over the leaves. Then wait a few seconds for the leaves to open.
Throw away the water and pour the rest of the boiling water over your leaves – enough to fill your cup. Let it steep for 2 to 5 minutes, then strain.
Why get rid of that first splash of water? In general, tea lovers recommend this step to rid the tea of dust or impurities.
This can be especially important for pu-erh tea. The fermentation process has the potential to produce mycotoxins (more in a second), but discarding the first rinse can help wash them away.
People have been drinking pu-erh without any problems for centuries. However, it is important to know that the fermentation process can produce mycotoxins – toxic compounds produced by some fungi – as well as possible bacterial toxins.
Studies show that mycotoxins detected in Pu-Erh are usually present in low levels that are considered safe and there are no published reports of people developing Pu-Erh. But there is something to be aware of and a good reason to rinse your tea off before making a full brew.
Otherwise? Like all fermented foods that are high in bacteria, pu-erh can alter your digestion or even upset your stomach until your system has some time to adjust.
Also, keep in mind that it contains caffeine, although the actual caffeine content can vary significantly depending on the age of the pu-erh and the length of time it has been brewed. Typically, a cup of pu-erh serves 30 to 100 milligrams of caffeine.
Pu-erh tea has the potential to aid your weight loss efforts and can bring some other health benefits as well. But you shouldn’t rely on this to be a total game changer for your body. Drink it if you like the taste but if you are not a fan you don’t feel like you are missing out on great benefits by not drinking it.