Tuesday, April 8, 2008
IT'S PU'ERH DAHLINGS, PU'ERH!
Sounds fancy, but we're only talking tea again, only rarer this time!! I've got to tell you what I've learned about it. As soon as I taste it, which I'm planning to do real soon, I'll let you in on how it tastes too. I've studied it's rarity, varieties, and properties for a long time, so I feel like I know enough now, I can share and you can see if you'd like to be brave enough to try it too. Oh yes, I think it will take some bravery. After all, it is fermented by a slight rotting process to give its distinctive flavor, keeping ability, and health benefits. Maybe it shouldn't take bravery then, just a smart try of something that may work and you may like! Be bold, be different, try it once!
BTW, I will be submitting a box (or bag) of Charleston, SC tea for the tea contest this month, which I've never tasted either. You and I will be trying it together. Remember, Charleston has the only tea plantation in America; the only place in America where tea is grown commercially, and they've got their own brand. Everything else we consume was grown on foreign soil. Tea is very hard to grow in the U.S. and we can't grow enough to satisfy the needs of even that state's tea drinkers, let alone the rest of the country. I can't wait to give it a try. Remember to comment at the bottom of this post if you want to be entered into the contest.
Anyway, back to pu'erh. This tea got its name from the Pu-Erh Prefecture in China's Yunnan Province. My tea info. says that "it was unknown outside China until the early 19th century. Pu'erh can be made from green or black tea; it is the special processing and presence of bacteria (yes, I said bacteria you germa-phobes!) that make this type of tea distinctive. During the withering stage, while the leaves still retain some moisture, they are mounded into piles and allowed to rot (oh yeah, I said rot too--are you still with me?) slightly (see, only slightly my little grossed out ones), so that naturally occurring bacteria (naturally occurring--that's good isn't it...you know "all natural"--that's always supposed to catch your attention) are preserved. The tea is then aged underground or in caves (I love this part. It's seems so ancient and thus cool!). It may be sold as loose-leaf, a paste (wonder how you brew that--I'll have to check), or in compressed tea bricks (this is what interests me). The taste may be earthy or musty (I bet you really want some now, don't you?)."
I know, you want to know if you have to even think of trying something like this, if it has any health benefits that's going to make it worth the effort. Well, good news. "Traditionally, it is drunk medicinally or to aid digestion. Studies have shown that the green pu'erh tea Tuo-Cha is excellent for diminishing arterial plaque." I also read somewhere that a study in France showed that it lowered blood lipids by 13% (3 cups a day for a month). 40% of the people in the study lost weight although there were no stats on how much and how long they had been drinking the tea. Those people were in the 40-50 year age range. Are you on board yet people? Tea not sounding so gross now is it? There are supposedly many other health benefits of this tea also. Do your homework.
Here's what I think is so cool about it. Unlike all other types of tea, the older or more aged pu'erh tea gets, the better it gets, in taste and benefits, like fine wine they say. Other types of tea deteriorate quickly and must be kept airtight and used within a certain amount of time. This stuff just gets better and better and more expensive the older and rarer it is. I looked up some rare pu'erh teas. There are some that are 5, 7, 50, 70, even 100 years old. They can be priced from $7.00 for one ounce to $200-$300 for a 10-14 ounce tea brick or cake. I'm sure you can find some rarer and more expensive than that if you look hard enough. The more aged the tea, the more mellow, I've read also. It's supposed to be great for after dinner, as a digestive.
Well, that's enough information to get you interested, I think...I hope. I like to try new stuff, especially when it has to do with tea. If you get to taste it first, let me know. If you're close enough to me, share. I'm game. If you want to order or just look at this cool, rare tea, google it. I hope you've had an informative tea lesson today. The tea-cha is out until next Tuesday!!