Pu-erh teaPu-erh tea belongs to one of the six main classes of Chinese tea.  It encompasses all teas that are compressed during processing.  This compression assists to facilitate a post-fermenting process – a distinguishing feature of Pu-erh teas.

The post -fermenting process assists to increase flavour and value of this tea with time. 

Whilst  typically compressed into tea cakes of various shapes and sizes (disc, brick and ball), loose leaf Pu-erh tea is also available.

The Pu-erh tea plant differs  from other tea plants, whilst still belonging to the same Camellia Sinesis family.

Pu-erh tea has come to the attention of the west as a digestion aid -  due to its ability to regulate fat metabilism ( ie the absoroption of fat).  It has been included as an element in some weight loss programes.

Read on below for more information behind these and other unique charactoristics of Pu-erh tea. 

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What is Pu-erh tea?

Pu-erh tea belongs to a category of Chinese tea called Compressed Tea. Whole leaves typically compressed into various shapes: cakes, bricks etc. This assists this tea to continue fermenting after production has completed. In this respect Pu-erh tea "ages", like for example wine or cheese. 

Many people invest in Pu-erh tea, like they might invest in wine. They purchase quantities of tea and let it "mature" and increase in value with time.

Note that this characteristic is at odds with requirements for other tea varieties, where a premium is paid for "freshnes", related to lack of age!

There are also two major varieties of Pu-erh teas:

  1. Pre-fermented Pu-erh tea: it is pre-fermented and ready to be used immediately after production
  2. Green (raw, Shen) Pu-erh tea: the tea leaves are compressed into cakes and the fermenting process starts after the production, naturally fermenting within the tea cakes. The teas are not normally used until two years after production. The newly produced Pu-erh (under-fermented) is too rough and strong for most of people to accept.

Fermentation: further background:

Pu-erh tea leaves and Plants

Pu-erh tea  is  named after its place of origan, the Pu-erh village in China's Yun Nan province.

It is made using local tea trees which have the following differences in characteristics from traditional tea plants, despite all belong to the same plant family (Camellia Sinesis) as other tea plants: 

  •  Pu-erh tea trees are significantly larger than normal tea plants, these being more like tea shrubs.
  • The tea leaves are larger  :  they measure upwards of 20cm, with the normal leaves measure at typically around 5 cm.
  • The traditional Pu-erh trees were  wild, found in local forests. There are certain trees in the area the locals believe may be many hundred years old.

Pu-erh Tea and weight control

Pu-erh tea is traditionally consumed in areas in China where high fat diet (eg, horse meat, dairy products) is main stream diet, such as Yun Nan and Tibet. This has trigged some researchers to think it might be used to neutralize the fat consumed.