The Health Benefits of Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea, also known as pu’er or pu-erh, is a unique type of fermented tea traditionally produced in Yunnan Province, China. Pu-erh tea undergoes fermentation, which alters its color, taste, and potential health advantages.

Pu-erh tea has properties that can prevent diseases. These properties include antioxidants, anti-obesity, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Here is an overview of the science-backed health benefits of drinking pu-erh tea:

Traditional Chinese Pu-erh Tea

Cholesterol and Triglyceride Reduction

Studies in rodents and humans suggest that pu-erh tea can improve blood lipid profiles. A rat study found that pu-erh tea significantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides compared to controls. Pu-erh’s ability to inhibit cholesterol absorption and increase bile acid excretion is attributed to the cholesterol-lowering effect.

Drinking pu-erh tea daily for 12 weeks reduced BMI and belly fat in overweight individuals. The study compared the results to those who did not consume tea. The researchers suggested the tea’s polyphenols, theabrownins, and statins from the fermentation process contributed to the anti-obesity effects. Overall, pu-erh tea may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Antimicrobial Effects

Research indicates that pu-erh tea has antibacterial and antiviral activities that may inhibit common foodborne pathogens and other microbes.

Other studies showed pu-erh tea could fight viral infections like hepatitis B by reducing HBV antigen secretion and mRNA expression in infected cells. Pu-erh’s antimicrobial effects are likely due to its polyphenols damaging bacterial cell walls and interfering with viral replication.

Anticancer Properties

The tea polyphenols and polysaccharides in pu-erh tea demonstrate anticancer abilities in laboratory and animal studies. Pu-erh tea extracts have been shown to induce apoptosis and inhibit proliferation of human stomach, oesophagal, liver, and leukemia cancer cells.

Studies on rodents show that pu-erh tea can stop tumors, lower spreading, and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.

Pu erh health benefits infographic

Antioxidant Effects

Like other teas, pu-erh is rich in antioxidant plant compounds like polyphenols, polysaccharides, amino acids, and vitamins. Studies show pu-erh tea has an even stronger free radical scavenging ability and antioxidant capacity than green or black tea.

In cell studies, pu-erh tea protected against oxidative cell damage and reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by hydrogen peroxide. Animal research found it lowered oxidative stress and DNA damage from toxic chemical exposure. The antioxidant properties of pu-erh tea are associated with a lower risk of certain cancers and heart diseases.

Diabetes Management

Emerging research highlights the antidiabetic effects of pu-erh tea. Human and animal studies show drinking pu-erh tea daily can reduce blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C levels in type 2 diabetics.

In diabetic mice, long-term pu-erh tea treatment was found to suppress the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are implicated in diabetic complications. Pu-erh tea may also inhibit the enzyme alpha-glucosidase which breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars. Overall, pu-erh tea shows promise as a natural remedy for controlling diabetes and reducing diabetes risk.

Immune System Modulation

The polysaccharides, amino acids, and tea polyphenols in pu-erh tea may help strengthen immunity and fight inflammation. One study gave pu-erh tea to older mice and found it increased levels of immune cells like T lymphocytes and natural killer cells compared to controls.

Other research shows that pu-erh tea can suppress inflammatory cytokines like IL-6. The immune-boosting effects of pu-erh tea may enhance the body’s defenses against infection and prevent chronic inflammation related to autoimmune disease.

Safety and Potential Side Effects

There are few reported side effects associated with drinking normal amounts of pu-erh tea. However, a few precautions and safety concerns should be kept in mind:

  • Excessive intake may irritate the stomach, especially on an empty stomach. It’s best to avoid overindulging.
  • The caffeine in pu-erh tea may cause jitteriness and sleep problems in sensitive individuals.
  • Pu-erh tea inhibits iron absorption. People with iron deficiency should avoid drinking it with meals.
  • Oxalate in pu-erh tea may increase kidney stone risk in prone individuals. Consume in moderation if you have a history of kidney stones.
  • Pu-erh tea may interact with certain medications like anticoagulants and antibiotics. Consult your doctor.
  • Excessive intake has been linked to liver and bile duct abnormalities in some cases. Moderation is key.

When consumed in normal food amounts, pu-erh tea appears very safe for most healthy adults. Drinking 2-3 cups per day to garner its antioxidative, antimicrobial, and anti-diabetic benefits seems reasonable for most people. However, it’s also wise to listen to your body’s responses.


What is Pu-erh tea, and does it have health benefits?


For an overview of the different types of tea please follow this link.

For the health benefits of other teas, please follow these links:

Tea Health

Black tea health benefits

Green tea health benefits

White tea health benefits

Herbal tea health benefits

Oolong tea health benefits