Sep 8 2012

The Land of Oz and Pu-ehr


Pu-what? you say! If you follow Dr. Oz at all, you may have heard of this mysterious tea which he touts for help with weight loss and general good health. As with all types of tea in recent years, there are many health claims being made as to the benefits of drinking tea. Now, all of us who have enjoyed tea for years would tell you anecdotally that tea is good for us. But does the research really support those claims? The answers are long and complicated; the short answer is that well done studies are very promising in supporting those claims, but the hard evidence is still at bay in most areas. Within the next  few weeks, the Fifth International Symposium on Tea and Human Health will be held in Washington, D.C. The most current research on the topic will be presented and those of us in the tea industry look forward to hopefully having more information from the numerous studies which have been ongoing.

But, to go back to Pu’ehr, this is an aged tea whose popularity dates to ancient times when it was “discovered” accidentally that tea which was exposed to certain conditions in its long journey from tea growing areas of China to its destination in far away mountainous regions of Asia developed characteristics which were extremely appealing in flavor and complexities. In subsequent centuries, tea producers began purposefully recreating those conditions to create Pu’ehr for its followers. In recent years it has become a popular and valuable commodity among collectors in China and to some status concious and wealthier citizens of the Western World. Prices of high quality Pu’ehr teas aged from 5 to 30 years or more have sky rocketed, and to keep up with demand producers have developed processes to stimulate conditions which will develop some of the characteristics of aged tea at a much faster pace right in the factories. The availability of these teas has made it affordable for the every day consumer who wants to have it. Thus, Dr. Oz’s followers have begun requesting it.

We’ll soon be offering a class on Pu-ehr teas; stay tuned for the date and cost. It will be interesting, I promise you.