• search

How to Drink Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea leaves are recognizable for their compressed “cake” shapes, making them ideal for travel.

Pu-erh is not everyone’s cup of tea! The pungent aroma of this looseleaf tea is quite distinctive, but like other teas, it’s often mixed with different flavours to reduce its intensity.

Pu-erh tea is generally recognizable to tea aficionados as it is sold in compressed “cake” shapes, making them ideal for travel. They also have a much longer shelf life than regular green, black, or white teas. 

In this article, we’ll share how to drink pu-erh tea and what makes it so unique from other tea varieties. We’ll also explore some unique flavour pairings and pu-erh tea blends that will introduce you to the wide world of pu-erh.

What is Pu-erh tea?

Pu-erh tea is similar to black tea, but the fermentation process takes much longer. It’s similar to a Kombucha, except in kombucha, you ferment the liquid, not the leaves. 

Pu-erh tea is unlike other loose leaf teas you may be familiar with. This fermented tea leaf beverage packs a very uniquely pungent taste and is often paired with sweet, bitter, and earthy flavours to balance it out. 

Pu-erh comes in two main varieties:

  • Ripe (Shou): This tea is made from loose leaf black tea that has been fermented for several months then tightly pressed into a small cake. Pu-erh Shou has a milder flavour and due to the shorter ageing time, it’s less expensive than raw pu-erh.
  • Raw (Sheng): This tea starts like green tea then is pressed into cake form before it’s fermented and aged for several years. Because of this long aging process, pu-erh Sheng is a more expensive tea than ripe pu-erh.

Because of its unique drying and fermentation process, the flavour profile improves with age, unlike other teas that stay fresh for a few years. 

Nutritional information for Pu-erh tea 

Pu-erh tea contains a fair amount of caffeine (between 30 – 100 mg per cup) which is why its recommended not to drink more than three cups per day.

Pu-erh tea is naturally calorie-free or low-calorie, like many teas. The calories can add on if you add sugar, cream, or milk to your drink.

This fermented beverage contains about 30-100 mg of caffeine per cup. The recommended daily intake of caffeine for a healthy adult is 400 mg. This is likely why it’s recommended to drink no more than 3 cups of pu-erh tea per day (depending on how much caffeine you get from coffee and other sources throughout the day. 

Benefits of Pu-erh tea

Aside from a uniquely strong taste, fermented Pu-erh tea may have many positive health benefits, such as:

  • Promoting weight loss (studies are showing it can help synthesize new fats while burning stored body fat)
  • Improving blood pressure (to support weight management and curb hunger)
  • Reducing cholesterol levels (by preventing fats from being absorbed into your bloodstream and by decreasing fat accumulation)
  • Slowing cancer growth (studies are showing it can help kill cancer cells in the body)
  • Boosting liver health (by preventing or reversing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)

How to drink loose leaf Pu-erh teas

The unique characteristic about pu-erh tea leaves, compared to other teas, is that it has a nearly indefinite shelf life. Up to 60 years in fact!

When you buy a Pu-erh cake, you need about 3-4 grams for each cup you plan to brew.  Here’s what you need to brew that perfect cup:

  • Water temperature: Boiling (100oC)
  • Water quality: Fresh or filtered water
  • Tea leaves: 3-4 grams per 236 ml of water 

Brewing Pu-erh teas is slightly different than regular loose leaf tea:

  1. Scrape a small amount of leaves (3-4 grams) off the main pu-erh cake and put it into a teapot.
  2. Pour boiling water over the leaves until they are just covered. Then discard the water.
  3. Repeat step 2 once more (to rinse the leaves).
  4. Fill your cup with fresh boiling water and the rinsed leaves, and steep for 2 minutes or until your desired strength. 
  5. Strain leaves and serve. 

Shelf life of Pu-erh tea leaves

The unique characteristic about pu-erh tea leaves, compared to other teas, is that it has a nearly indefinite shelf life. Regular loose leaf tea stays fresh for 1-2 years once opened and up to 10 years when sealed and stored in cool, moist-free conditions. With Pu-erh tea, however, the flavour can last up to 60 years! 

Healthy Pu-erh tea blends

Many do not prefer the taste of unflavoured pu-erh teas, so we’ve blended them with more pleasing notes and flavourings. Here are some great pu-erh teas from Natteas to choose from:

Pu-erh Tea: Coffee or Tea?

Pu-erh Tea: Scottish Caramel Pu-erh

Pu-erh Tea: Creme Brulee Pu-erh

Formed Tea: Xantou Mandarin Black Pu-erh

Formed Tea: Pu-erh Beeng Cha

Formed Tea: White Pu-erh – Wenshan

How to choose good quality pu-erh tea

There are many grades of pu-erh tea on the market, and here are a few things to look for in good quality pu-erh:

  • Harvest region: China and specifically the Yunnan Province produce the best varieties
  • Leaf source: The best sources for pu-erh leaves are from (in order of preference) old arbour trees, wild tees, or sustainable farming small trees. 
  • Harvest season: Generally, spring harvests produce the best leaves, followed by autumn, then summer.

Ready to add good quality pu-erh teas to your tea box? Natteas carries a fresh selection of pu-erh teas blended with different flavours. Find a blend for you in our online store.

  • No products in the cart.