The Chemicals and Health Benefits of Pu-erh Tea
This is a free radical:
These little bastards are incredibly unstable. Why you ask? Because they lack a paired electron.
You see, a free radical is a volatile atom with an on odd number of electrons.
In order to make itself whole, the free radical searches for any available electron it can find; this usually results in larceny.
Much like a zombie apocalypse, once a free radical takes another molecule’s atom, that molecule itself becomes a free radical; this sparks a free radical, chemical-chain apocalyptic reaction inside your body.
On rare occasions, the loss of an electron can even leave a cell non-functioning or functioning in a completely abnormal way.
Most researchers believe that this process of oxidation is what causes or enables some of the most deadly diseases and illnesses, like cancer or heart disease.
So who or what can stop these abominable free radicals?
Flavonoids are a group of antioxidant compounds that inhibit the pro-inflammatory activity of enzymes in free radicals — preventing them from reaching vulnerable atoms or molecules.
Pu-erh Tea is loaded with complex flavonoids, containing around 100–300 mg per serving. It’s no surprise then, that studies have shown Pu-erh to be a significant source of antioxidants.
These same antioxidants not only fight against free radicals, but they also lower your overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
In a promising study, researchers found that Pu-erh tea extract lowered LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), triglyceride levels, and blood lipid levels, while raising HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), in administered rats.
FAS (fatty acid synthase), is a major enzyme system in fat storage, and a dominant factor in cancer cells.
In a 2005 study, researchers found that administering Pu-erh tea leaves to rats, led to significant suppression of FAS in their liver — resulting in weight loss, a lowering of cholesterol and a slight reduction in triacylglycerol.
Researchers pointed to three major constituents in Pu-erh that produce this FAS suppression and weight loss:
Are part of the Flavonoid family and an incredibly beneficial antioxidant for a whole host of different diseases and maladies. Along with Pu-erh, Catechins are found in non-fermented green, Oolong, and black teas; as well as a variety of face creams and cosmetics.
It’s important to point out that there is an astounding variety of Catechins in nature, the most notable ones found in Pu-erh include:
Epicatechins: Probably the most famous member of the Flavonoid family — it is naturally found in chocolate and green tea. Studies have shown correlation between Epicatechins and increased follistatin and myostatin levels — two proteins that are involved in muscle growth. It has been used for years as a supplement within the bodybuilding community.
Gallocatechin gallate: The main constituent of tannins in green tea — has been studied for its anti-tumor properties and found to be the most effective cancer preventive polyphenol within green tea.
Fun Fact (and slightly shocking to some): Epicatechingallte has been found to be a non-selective antagonist of the opioid receptors. It may not have a high enough affinity to actually save an overdose victim, but nevertheless, still interesting.
Along with tea, it is found in almonds, buckwheat, grape — and this wacky weight loss supplement.
Theanine and Caffeine:
Theanine was discovered in the 1950’s from a green tea extract — an amino acid analogue that has been shown to promote relaxation and prevent anxiety.
Caffeine, as I’m sure you know, is a stimulant and the most widely used drug on earth. The synergy between caffeine and Theanine is akin to peanut butter and jelly, but without the sticky teeth. The jittery side effects of caffeine are quashed through Theanine’s relaxing properties.
The combination is so revered that many companies have combined the two into an extremely popular supplement.
Where to buy?
Yunnan Sourcing has the highest quality aged Pu-erh that I’ve ever had. I highly recommend their Golden Melon Ripe Pu-erh.
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company is another one of my favorites. I’ve never personally ordered any of their Pu-erh selections, but I have bought some incredibly high quality White tea from them. Also, their customer service is excellent.
Go get you some!
Pu-erh’s unique history, smooth taste and salubrious constituents make it a top contender for a drink you should be sipping, right now!