Pu-Erh tea: health effects and preparation. Does it help with weight loss?

Pu-Erh tea: health effects and preparation. Does it help with weight loss?
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Pu-erh is a type of tea originating in China. It is characterized by its processing and its beneficial effects on health. This tea is a well-known remedy for various health problems in traditional Eastern medicine. What are the beneficial effects of pu-erh tea? Who is it not suitable for?

Pu-erh tea is considered to be one of the oldest teas in the world. It has a characteristic earthy flavour and orange-golden colour. It is especially known for its rich composition.

It has beneficial effects on the immune system, digestion, sleep, metabolism, mental state and more.

The content and composition of tea, health effects, contraindications, dosage, preparation and many other interesting information can be found in the article.

What is pu-erh tea?

Pu-erh is a type of tea originating from the tea plant grown in the Chinese province of Yunnan. Its name is derived from the Pu-erh district where it is locally grown.

Pu-erh is also the name given to pressed and fermented teas containing the beneficial bacteria/fungi of the tea plant.

It is unique in its processing. The tea leaves are harvested and dried in the sun to then go through the entire fermentation process (biochemical fermentation process).

The tea is left to mature in a more humid environment. This is a stage that can take from a month to several years. Therefore, pu-erh tea has many variants and varieties that differ in the length of the fermentation process itself. Pu-erh is produced in the familiar green and black varieties.

During the processing, the tea leaves are oxidised, dried, fermented, rolled and pressed into a cake shape.

The older the pu-erh tea, the more valuable it tends to be.

It has a full, earthy and slightly bitter taste. The colour of the tea is orange-golden brown.

Pu-erh tea is also called 'imperial tea' because it was favoured by Chinese emperors.

Pu-erh is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

It has positive effects on the digestive system, energy metabolism, detoxification and the immune system. According to some studies, it also has anti-cancer potential.

Pu-erh tea also has a positive effect on the psyche, sleep and counteracts stress and anxiety.

Pu-erh: content and composition

Pu-erh contains a high proportion of antioxidants, specifically flavovonoids, catechins or polyphenols. In smaller amounts, it also contains protein, carbohydrates, the minerals magnesium, calcium, manganese, selenium, zinc, vitamins C and E and caffeine.

Due to its unique method of production, it contains little theine and many antioxidants and other beneficial substances. In the East, it is also known as natural Chinese penicillin, making it a universal medicine.

Thanks to the fermentation process, pu-erh can supply the body with healthy probiotics and thus beneficial gut bacteria for healthy digestion.

Pu-erh tea and its health benefits

Fermentation can affect the resulting taste of the tea, yet it has a pleasant earthy-fruity flavor. Thanks to its strong composition of antioxidants, drinking this tea is a bonus for a person's overall health.

Supporting overall health and immunity

The tea's anti-inflammatory effects help to relieve symptoms of ongoing diseases and prevent them from occurring. This makes the tea suitable for inflammatory processes in the body - for example, inflammation of the respiratory tract and joints.

Its anti-parasitic properties in turn help protect the body from harmful bacteria and viruses.

Pu-erh contains high amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C, which support the body's overall immunity and vitality, helping to prevent common diseases.

Support detoxification, digestion and weight loss

Pu-erh tea helps to remove harmful toxins and supports the body's natural detoxification. One study pointed to a protective effect of the liver against damage.

It has a diuretic effect. It also breaks down alcohol from the blood.

Pu-erh tea is effective in reducing the accumulation of fat in the body and improving fat digestion. According to Chinese studies, pu-erh helps to reduce bad LDL cholesterol, regulate energy metabolism and prevent obesity-related diseases.

Pu-erh tea is a suitable loose tea for promoting digestion, intestinal motility and eliminating stomach discomfort. Thanks to its active ingredients, it helps harmonize the intestinal bacterial flora.

Tea should only supplement and support weight loss. However, drinking tea alone will not cause weight loss. The key is a balanced diet, a moderate calorie deficit and regular physical activity.

Promoting mental health and sleep

The gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in tea helps reduce stress and in turn increases melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that positively affects sleep and a person's mental state.

Supporting the cardiovascular system

By drinking pu-erh tea regularly, you can reduce the risk of heart disease. The natural substance lovastatin reduces the levels of unwanted LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. The tea lowers blood sugar levels, helping to alleviate the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is characterised by the presence of several risk factors and diseases: abdominal obesity, high blood triacylglycerol levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia).

Summary of the beneficial effects of pu-erh tea:

  • Supporting immunity and defenses
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Antibacterial effect
  • Antioxidant effect
  • Support metabolism and digestion
  • Support the balance of intestinal bacteria
  • Reduction of LDL cholesterol
  • Reduction of blood sugar levels
  • Support cardiovascular health
  • Support detoxification and elimination
  • Support mental health
  • Promoting quality sleep

Preparation and dosage of pu-erh tea

Pour one teaspoon of the mixture over 200 ml of hot water at a temperature of approximately 90-100 °C. Generally, approximately 3 to 5 g of tea per 200-250 ml of water is used.

Allow the mixture to infuse through a tea strainer for 3-5 minutes and then drink. If necessary, strain the tea.

The tea can also be steeped several times, but the steeping time is prolonged.

The best result is achieved with pure teas.

With flavoured teas, the resulting effect is slightly lower and the quality of the subsequent infusion is lower.

There is also a traditional way of preparing tea, but it is more complicated. A traditional Chinese bowl is needed to steep the tea leaves.

The recommended dosage varies quite a bit from source to source.
For the full health effect of tea, it is suggested to drink 3 small cups a day.
It is not recommended to drink tea in the evening before going to bed.

Pu-erh and side effects

Side effects of pu-erh tea are mainly related to excessive intake of caffeine, which the tea contains in smaller amounts.

Side effects of excessive dosage include insomnia, nausea or diarrhea and frequent urination.

You should be vigilant if you take medicines and dietary supplements containing caffeine.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also be cautious and should not exceed a dose of 200 mg of caffeine per day. However, consultation with a physician is recommended.

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Interesting resources

  • LANGELIER, Kathi. Herbal revolution: more than 65 recipes for medicinal teas, elixirs, tinctures, syrups, dishes and body care products. Translated by Hana HANOSKOVÁ. Olomouc: ANAG, [2022]. ISBN 978-80-7554-369-1
  • GIRSCH, Michaela. Teas from medicinal plants: how to properly collect, dry and mix. Translated by Rudolf RADA. Prague: Mladá fronta, 2020. ISBN 978-80-204-5438-6
  • healthline.com - Pu-erh Tea: Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects, and More. Healthline. SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD
  • sciencedirect.com - Pu-erh tea: A review of a healthful brew. Science Direct - Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences
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