Tea Blog

What is Pu-erh Tea? How It’s Made and Health Benefits

Abi Cowell
Posted on
January 16, 2023

What is pu-erh tea? How is pu-erh tea made? The health benefits of pu-erh tea are extensive. What are the best tasting kinds of pu-erh tea available? Would you agree that we get better as we get older, just like a fine wine? Well, pu-erh teas are the same!

Pu-erh tea’s taste improves with each passing year, becoming more flavorful, more complex and more mellow. It is perhaps because of this singular feature, the capacity to improve with age, that pu-erh is also called “a drinkable antique.”

Pu-erh is one of China’s favorite teas and certainly the world’s most unique. Pu-erh tea was actually currency in parts of China centuries ago.

What is pu-erh tea?

Pu-erh tea comes from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, just like other delicious tea varieties, such as white tea, oolong tea, black tea and green tea. It is the only tea that is fermented and gets better with age, just like a fine wine!

Pu-erh tea is available as a loose leaf tea or pressed into a brick.

How is pu-erh tea processed?

All Pu’er starts out the same. The basic ingredient is called mao cha. Mao cha is harvested tea leaves that are allowed to dry in the sun. Yunnan is the only province that grows tea that has a lot of sunshine and blue skies in China. One of the side affects of all this sunshine is some very large leaf tea plants.

There are two general types of Pu’er, cooked and raw. The raw or shen (green) Pu’er is made from mao cha and steamed and pressed into cakes. It is the shen Pu’er that demonstrates the miracle of Pu’er. It slowly changes over time through a natural fermentation process.

The microbes present in the mao cha are not destroyed during the sun drying process and continue their magic and over 8 to 10 years the raw tea is transformed from green to cooked black. It is the shen that is most valuable over time and starts to reach is full maturity after around thirty years.

One of the unique features of Pu-erh tea is its distinct packaging and the various shapes into which it is compressed. Unlike all other teas, Pu-erh tea can be in loose-leaf form or pressed into a cake, brick or other shape. The most common shape of Pu-erh tea is the round cake.

What are the health benefits of drinking pu-erh tea?

There are many health benefits of drinking pu-erh tea.

Whether in tuo cha (birds nest) or loose leaf forms, these unique teas have long been used in China for the medicinal benefits.

The soothing properties, aid digestion and are perfect after heavy or greasy meals. More recent studies indicate powerful cholesterol lowering effects, blood cleansing properties and aid significantly in weight loss efforts.

Many published studies have been done showing the enormous health benefits of this wonderful tea. The most eye opening of these studies was conducted in France several years ago.

A blind study was conducted with 500 hyperlipidemia patients (individuals with advanced cholesterol conditions, usually controlled with medication). Half of the controlled group consumed 3-4 cups of Pu’erh daily, while the rest of the participants were given something else.

After a 30-day period the results showed that drinking Pu’erh on a regular basis could significantly lower cholesterol and further research confirmed that Pu’erh was as effective as the most advanced cholesterol lowering medications available. This is just one of the many healthy benefits of this delicious tea.

Where to buy the best organic pu-erh teas online

The best pu-erh tea is organic, since it is free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that may be used while the tea is growing.

The Path of Tea sells 7 different pu-erh teas online. We only carry organic pu-erh teas (not conventionally grown teas), along with organic loose leaf teas of all varieties. Try one of these delicious pu-erh teas today:


This content has been adapted from the book Your Path of Tea for Health of Body, Mind and Spirit by the late Thia McKann, Tea Master and Owner of The Path of Tea.

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