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Pu'er tea

Chinese: 普洱茶

Pinyin: Pǔ ěr Chá

Parts used: Leaves

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Stomach Liver

Scientific name: Camellia sinensis

Other names: Pu-erh tea

Use of pu'er tea (Pu er Cha) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect young tea leaves, dry and roll them to form a shape before fermentation process which involves microbial fermentation and oxidation of the tea leaves.

Dosage: 3-10 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears heat and dispels toxicity. Promotes the generation of body Fluids. Smooths digestion and eases hangover. Allows the release of toxicity from the surface.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which pu'er tea may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Headache Abdominal pain Dysentery Abdominal bloating Indigestion Hangover Measles

Contraindications*: Not suitable for patients whose Middle Burner is cold.

Key TCM concepts behind pu'er tea (Pu er Cha)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), pu'er tea are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category pu'er tea are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that pu'er tea typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition pu'er tea can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Pu'er tea also taste Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like pu'er tea tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such pu'er tea are thought to target the Stomach and the Liver. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on pu'er tea (Pu er Cha)

The body weights of rats and their plasma triglyceride, cholesterol, and LDL‐cholesterol have been significantly reduced by feedings of pu‐erh tea to the animals.1


1. Lin, Jen-Kun; Lin-Shiau, Shoei-Yn (February 2006). "Mechanisms of hypolipidemic and anti-obesity effects of tea and tea polyphenols". Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 50 (2): 211–217. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200500138.

Use of pu'er tea (Pu er Cha) as food

Pu'er tea are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Eggs cooked in Pu'er tea.