An Affair with Puerh
With the recent attention brought to my favorite tea type – Puerh – by Dr. Oz, I thought I’d give our fans some more perspective and reasons to love this most luscious, healthful and comforting tea.
All Puerh teas are made with sun-dried broad tea leaves from the southeast Chinese Province of Yunnan, where the tea-growing season lasts eight or nine months out of the year. This Puerh family of teas includes semi-green teas and dark-green fermented teas, which may be aged for many years. Puerh is often categorized as a black tea, maybe due to its dark red infusion, but it is not the same as a black tea. Puerh is substantially higher in caffeine than black teas, with about 60 mg per 8-ounce serving (as opposed to 40 mg per 8 oz serving, on average, for black teas). It’s a very unique tea. In both its fermented and aged forms, it has been through secondary oxidization done by organisms that continue to develop in the tea, which gives it strong antibacterial characteristics – like blue cheese, or yogurt, also well known for their antibacterial qualities. The resulting aged tea is mellow, very smooth and nourishing in its flavor. Puerh teas are often classified by the year of their production (like wine vintages). Their value increases with more aging. Puerh has even been purchased as an investment tea. On one of my first tea-buying trips, in Hong Kong I saw Japanese businessmen picking up Puerh tea cakes from their personal tea lockers at a very exclusive purveyor’s shop.
Puerh teas come in a variety of finished forms – from loose smaller-leaf teas, to very large leaf bulk teas, or tea cakes and bricks. The mini-sized bricks are called Puerh tuochas, and they’re perfect for travel, or for when you take your loose leaf tea with you camping. Personally, I’m never caught without my Puerh for the morning, so I carry either mini Puerh tuochas or a mini-tin of Bolder Breakfast tea and a Tuffy Tea Steeper with me on all my travels.
According to traditional Chinese medical practice, Puerh tea has body-warming and digestive properties. Puerh is often taken to dispel or cleanse the body of fat and toxins. Many people drink Puerh tea as a detox tea, and feel that Puerh is the best cure for a hangover. Puerh is also very popular with many as a weight loss tea.
Only in the past few decades has Puerh made its way into the U.S. I was personally involved in selecting the Puerhs we offer at The Tea Spot – both the organic loose-leaf as well as the organic tuochas, which are my travel teas of choice. Our best-selling signature tea, Bolder Breakfast, which you may have already guessed has a good helping of Puerh as well as bold black teas and dark chocolate, is our top selling tea, so I’m not alone in being a fan of this warm, cozy way of starting my mornings.