Pu erh tea – also known as puerh tea – is a very special type of tea. In fact, it’s such a special type of tea that its prices are going through the roof – it is increasing at a rate of over 100% per year! Last week all the Pu erh teas we currently stock have gone up in price by 30% in a single leap.
Our carefully selected Pu erh teas have been extremely popular - especially the 1990 Wild Tuo Cha 250g bowl and the 2003 Wild Yi Wu Wild Raw 500g cake. We only have a few of the 1984 Pu erh Coins left in stock with none available in China. We will sadly have to increase our pricing to account for the huge leap in our costs (for which we apologise), however, rest assured that you are being offered the tea at a lower retail price than it is in China!
The demand for high quality Pu erh tea in China is so high that prices are going though the roof.
High quality old Pu erh teas sell in one Shanghai tea house for as much as 200,000-400,000 RMB (25,000 to 50,000 USD). If that's too expensive for customers, they can taste these teas for 20,000 RMB (2,500 USD). If they choose to brew something younger and less expensive, the minimum cover charge of 1000 RMB (125 USD)!
Pu erh tea prices explained
Economic boom in China means that there are more people with a large disposable income and are therefore able to buy fine, rare Pu erh tea which is rapidly becoming a fashionable trend and a means of demonstrating status. This means that pu erh prices are rising and will continue to do so for some time (or that the quality you get for the same price will be lower than in the past).
This also explains why so many merchants are keeping pu erh for long term storage. However, Yunnan is one of the poorest regions in China and I believe that increasing prices will mean that more pu erh tea plantations will be established to fill the increased demand. That means that plantation pu erh tea shouldn't increase as much as wild pu erh.
This price increases mean that we also have to increase our prices. Otherwise we would be selling the tea same price we are buying it - at the moment our prices are much lower than the retail prices in China!
Types of Pu erh tea
There are two main types of puerh tea, the first being ‘sheng’ or raw puerh, which is the original kind and can be enjoyed either fresh or after it’s been left to naturally age and slowly oxidise. This ageing can be anywhere from a few years to a few decades and in the right conditions, the ageing matures the flavour of the tea and creates layers of complexity, depth and sweetness.
Freshly produced tea can also be intentionally fermented – a sort of speeding up of the ageing process. This is the second type known as ‘shou’ or cooked puerh. This fermentation process called ‘wo dui’ (wet piling) was innovated to replicate the rich and earthy taste of a puerh tea that has been naturally aged for many years.
Benefits of Pu erh tea
As with all types of tea, the health benefits of pu erh are still being researched. Some non-human studies have associated pu erh with weight loss: animal and test tube-based research showed it could help burn stored body fat while also synthesising fewer new fats. More work is needed to really establish this. It is also worth noting that, by decreasing fat accumulation, pu erh tea could also help in the fight against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease but, again, this is not yet proven.
Because pu erh tea is fermented, it could also introduce good gut bacteria (probiotics) into your body. The bacteria in question might play a role in controlling blood sugar, so they could impact feelings of hunger and weight management.
Separate bits of analysis have found pu erh tea extracts reducing cholesterol levels in animals, but again this does not necessarily mean pu erh tea itself works the same way in us humans.
The final possible, but unconfirmed, benefit of pu erh tea is that it might have a role to play in the fight against cancer. Test-tube studies have shown extracts of pu erh killing breast, mouth and colon cancer cells. As before, it’s important to note that more research is needed to confirm this and pu erh tea should not be seen as a cancer treatment.
*Read more about the possible health benefits of pu erh tea here.