The Skin Benefits of Drinking Pu Erh Tea

Who doesn’t like good, glowing skin? For sure, everybody does! 

Achieving good healthy skin is not only through applying skincare products on the outside but also by making sure that you consume the right things for your health on the inside. For many Asians, this healthy living means drinking Pu Erh Tea. 

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In general, teas possess a lot of health advantages. However, it is essential to note that not all teas are made equal – especially Pu Erh Tea. A post-fermented tea, Pu Erh, is not just any other tea. For thousands of years, Pu Erh has been utilized in Asia for various purposes, including detoxification of toxins in the body that results in better and healthier-looking skin. 

So, if you are curious why many people have highly used Pu Erh for improving the skin, then this article is made for you! Keep on reading to know how and what are the skin benefits of drinking Pu Erh Tea.

What is Pu Erh Tea?

Pu Erh tea is a tea made initially in Yunnan, China. Ancient People greatly preferred Pu Erh tea during the Eastern Han Dynasty because it ferments and does not spoil even after lengthy travels. With that, Pu Erh tea is a fermented tea that ages just like wine as time goes by. 


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Pu Erh tea is produced from the stems and leaves of Camellia sinensis. The parts of this plant are harvested and processed through different stages of rolling, sun drying, fermentation, and oxidation. These distinct processes produce the two types of Pu Erh tea: Raw Pu Erh, also known as Sheng, and Ripe Pu Erh, also known as Shou. Unlike Raw Pu Erh, which is simply pressed into tea blocks or tea cakes, ripe Pu Erh undergoes an accelerated aging or fermentation process known as wet-piling. 

The Science Behind Pu Erh Tea's Skin Benefits

There are several factors affecting skin health, particularly skin aging. These factors include breakdown and reduction in extracellular matrix, environmental and oxidative stress, and decrease in the skin's natural defense.  

Pu Erh tea is made from the stems and leaves of Camellia sinensis found in Yunnan, China. A study by Bonte et al. in 2016 examined the chemical and physical properties of Camellia sinensis leaves for the possible application in the skincare and cosmetic industry. The study revealed that the ancient plant contains a significant amount of polyphenol compared to other tea like green tea. In addition to that, Pu Erh also includes more specific catechins and catechin oligomer compositions that are vital in protecting the skin's structural integrity. These compounds are essential in maintaining Elastin, the primary protein altered in skin aging. The loss of biomechanical properties of the skin in aging is due to the deterioration of Elastin, and Pu Erh has the potential to combat such a harmful process. 

Also, the study conducted by Bonte et al. in 2016 has revealed that the Pu Erh has a high concentration of Heme Oxygenase enzyme. This enzyme is known to have cellular protective effects against oxidative damage to maintain the healthy function of skin tissues. The cellular expression of the enzyme is also directly linked to pollution exposure. The study showed that Pu Erh extracts have protective effects on cells exposed to toxins. Such findings are evidence relating to the potential detoxifying and protective properties of Pu Erh to the skin. 

Furthermore, a study by Zhang et al. in 2012 has isolated eight compounds from the water extract of Pu Erh tea. These compounds were identified as gallic acid, (+)-catechin, (−)-epicatechin, (−)-epicatechin-3-O-gallate, (−)-epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate, (−)-epiafzelechin-3-O-gallate, kaempferol, and quercetin. These compounds were then studied for their intrinsic activity against oxidative stress and damage. The study showed that the compounds' antioxidative activities were significantly higher than Vitamin C, with quercetin having the highest protective ability. This finding suggests that Pu Erh tea is an excellent source of natural antioxidants which can help combat the signs of skin aging and promote better and healthier skin. 

In addition, it has been already proven by studies, such as that of Su et al. in 2011, that Pu Erh has antibacterial activity against a wide range of pathogens, including E. coli. Today, more studies are being conducted on the potential application of Pu Erh tea in reducing the incidence of acne formation and managing its complications.  

How to Prepare Pu Erh as part of your skin regimen?

Now that you know the effects of Pu Erh on your skin health, you are ready to prepare and incorporate Pu Erh tea into your skin regimen. 

You must note that Pu Erh tea is sold either as in compressed tea leaves in tea cakes or blocks or sold as loose tea leaves. About one teaspoon of leaves is needed in every cup of 150 ml of water. 

Conventionally, you can make a Pu Erh tea utilizing a Yixing teapot and a Gaiwan tea set. However, you can use whatever teapot you have at home to brew the Pu Erh leaves in modern times.

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To brew Pu Erh leaves, here’s what you should do:

  1. Get the right amount of loose-leaf Pu Erh. If you have a compressed Pu Erh tea cake instead of the loose one, use a tea needle or a small pick or spoon to remove about 4 grams of Pu Erh for every 8 ounces of water.  
  2. Put your Pu Erh tea leaves in a tea infuser. You can also utilize a tea kettle with an already installed infuser or a tea basket or pincer infuser, and an ordinary kettle. 
  3. You should rinse the Pu Erh tea leaves with a small amount of hot water. After that, you should swirl the hot water around the Pu Erh leaves for a few seconds, then discard the hot water.
  4. After rinsing the Pu Erh tea leaves, heat the water in the tea kettle until the water temperature reaches about 195 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  5. After heating the water, pour it into a teacup and place the tea infuser with the loose Pu Erh tea leaves in the cup. You must not use Boiling water because it can cause some bitterness in the flavor of the Pu Erh tea.
  6. Generally, the steeping time of Pu Erh tea is about 3 to 5 minutes. However, to find your preferred flavor, you can steep for two minutes and taste the Pu Erh tea every 30 seconds. Once your preferred taste has been achieved, you can then stop steeping. Now, you can enjoy the Pu Erh tea drink before, during, or after applying your skin care!

Bottom line: 

Pu Erh tea has been consumed for thousands of years, definitely for every right reason. Pu Erh tea has several health benefits, including promoting skin health and combating signs of aging. With studies proving that Pu Erh tea has many antioxidative and protective effects on the skin’s cellular level, it is just really right to incorporate drinking Pu Erh tea on your skincare regimen! 

References: 

  1. Bonte, Frederic; Ulrichova, Jitka; Saladin, Regis (2016). Skin Antiaging and Detoxifying Properties of Ancient Tea Forest Pu’er Tea. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 100(), S80–.doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2016.10.198 
  2. Dr. Axe. 2019. What Is Pu-Erh Tea? Plus, 9 Benefits of This Lesser-Known Tea. Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/nutrition/pu-erh-tea/. Retrieved on 11 March 2022. 
  3. Healthline. 2020. Pu-erh Tea: Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects, and More. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/pu-erh-tea-benefits#dosage. Retrieved on 11 March 2022. 
  4. Roda G, Marinello C, Grassi A, et al. Ripe and Raw Pu-Erh Tea: LC-MS Profiling, Antioxidant Capacity and Enzyme Inhibition Activities of Aqueous and Hydro-Alcoholic Extracts. Molecules. 2019;24(3):473. Published 2019 Jan 29. doi:10.3390/molecules24030473
  5. Su Y, Zhang C, Wang Y, Li P. Antibacterial property and mechanism of a novel Pu-erh tea nanofibrous membrane. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2012 Feb;93(4):1663-71. doi: 10.1007/s00253-011-3501-2. Epub 2011 Aug 20. PMID: 21858494.
  6. WebMD. 2020. Pu-Erh Tea - Uses, Side Effects, and More. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1169/pu-erh-tea. Retrieved on 11 March 2022. 
  7. Zhang HM, Wang CF, Shen SM, et al. Antioxidant phenolic compounds from Pu-erh tea. Molecules. 2012;17(12):14037-14045. Published 2012 Nov 27. doi:10.3390/molecules171214037

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