There are many rumours about Puer tea, it is attributed magical properties, it is considered to be a cure for all diseases and a means to improve your mood. The CleverMind project published an article about this tea in which we tried to understand the properties of Puerh from a scientific point of view. So what are the benefits of Puerh?
The most important thing to remember is that the effect of taking this tea depends a lot on the quality of the tea. So when you buy the cheapest Puer you should not expect anything extraordinary from it. Just as you should not judge all smart phones by walking around with the simplest, weakest and with a bad camera.
In teas, though, price does not directly correlate with quality. And a mid-priced puerh can be better than an expensive one. So if you are interested in the subject take an hour or so to research where to buy it, what kind to buy, how to brew it and other related topics. Or at least ask a shop assistant at a good tea shop.
Cholesterol and Puer
Puer has a lot of evidence in improving lipidograms. Yes, that’s the cholesterol! More specifically, high and low density lipoproteins. In case it’s not clear to you, but interesting, remember: low density is better to lower, high density to increase. Your favourite Puer will help.
It is also mentioned that puerh contains lovastatin. These statins are now the most effective drugs to control cholesterol, low and high density lipoproteins. Only in a standard cup of puerh there is ten times less lovastatin than a low dose of statins as medication. So puerh will indeed improve your cholesterol levels, but not because of lovastatin (2 , 3).
Effect of drinking Puer on cholesterol levels
In one study on humans with high cholesterol levels of 4.32 nmol/l (LDL), the group who took Puer reduced LDL to 3.81 nmol, unlike the control group. There was also a reduction in body weight, which is often the reason for improved health. But if you remember that puerh has caffeine and many other substances, a small reduction in cholesterol and weight is realistic (4).
Fat and Puer
Puer helps to reduce visceral fat. This is fat that accumulates on the organs, not the stomach. What’s your proof? The fact is that this tea has gallic acid, and that is what reduces visceral fat deposits. In a study conducted in Japan, ingestion of puerh significantly reduced such fat in 12 weeks (5). Another trial confirmed this effect (6). Both visceral and regular fat were better reduced.
Taking Puerh significantly reduced the amount of visceral fat.
So you can recommend Puer to your elderly relatives or friends who are obese, as a rule in such cases cholesterol is also in a sad state. Just don’t brand Puer as a super fat burner – that would not be true anymore.
Effect of Puer on fat mass
Separately, some sort of antibacterial effect can be identified (8 , 9). Not an antibiotic, but not just any tea either. So it will work more than a placebo in the flu (10).
So is Puer invigorating or not?
If you don’t care about cholesterol and visceral fat, then yes – Puer is invigorating! But no, not as much as you might think.
Here are two of these teas: one has 100mg of caffeine per cup, the other has 70. After all, no two teas have exactly the same set of substances in even the same tea. And there are two people, one hitting cans of energy, the other rarely drinks anything. And under such circumstances, Puer is more powerful on the 2nd person, even if he gets only 70 mg of caffeine.
GABA and Puer
What’s even stranger, Puer isn’t just invigorating! There is evidence that it interacts with the GABA neurotransmitter, it inhibits the nervous system, and it also contains the substance GABA itself, which then becomes this neurotransmitter (11).
Especially for current or future tea drinkers, a study has been carried out comparing the concentration of GABA in different types and grades of Chinese tea. They found that there is not so much GABA in puerh teas specifically. But in white tea, the concentration of GABA is the highest. Hence, if you are interested in the subject of teas not for their invigorating effects but rather for their calming effect, you should drink white tea (12).
Caffeine and theanine content in different teas
Theanine and caffeine in Puerh
Many teas have another popular ingredient, theanine, which is also more towards relaxation. Theanine combines well with caffeine and increases attention. Now, there’s almost none of it in the finished aged Puerh!
Theanine spread (from higher to lower): Green, White, Oolong, Black.
Caffeine spread (from higher to lower): Oolong, Black, White, Green. (13)
Naturally, the tea’s effects are not limited to these substances, but the overall bracing effect is more pronounced in puerh than in other teas. The total calming effect is greater with classic green and white teas.
Caffeine and theanine content in different teas
Risks of ingesting puerh
As far as safety is concerned, there is no evidence that anyone has been poisoned by puerh or developed any illness. Of course you can hide the fact that it contains caffeine and if you are a grandmother with high blood pressure and drink a litre of good-quality Puer in one gulp you will need an ambulance. In general, reasonable dosages are safe.
– Among teas, Puer is one of the most invigorating.
– Much depends on its quality and the ability to brew it properly.
– It is not possible to state the exact cause, but the low levels of GABA and Theanine are not insignificant.
– Of other benefits: it corrects cholesterol, helps to lose weight and has an antibacterial effect.