What Kind of Tea?

The liquid of tea is like the sweetest dew from the heaven.

Lu Yu (733-804), Chinese Sage of Tea

In early December 2010, after numerous delays and the better part of two days on planes or in airports, I finally stepped out of the Chengdu International Airport into the cold, damp air of Sichuan province. Excited to be back in China and optimistic that I could get my expanding waist and bulging thighs under control, I flagged a taxi down and headed to the city center.  The next few days would be hectic; preparing lessons, finding an apartment, becoming acquainted with the subway and bus lines, getting lost, signing up for Chinese classes, struggling to communicate (Chinese survival skills picked up on a six month stay 7 years earlier in Beijing had vanished.), eating on the run (Meals at Burger king, McDonalds, or Pizza Hut.) installing the Internet, etc.

At last the weekend, I could relax and do some leisurely sight seeing and look for some pu-erh tea.  What kind of tea? That was my exact question a few months earlier when a tea connoisseur friend of mine mentioned pu-erh tea. He rambled on and on about its virtues and uniqueness. He insisted that drinking pu-erh tea offered several benefits including: helps regulate cholesterol and lose weight;  can slow down aging and improve looks; promotes blood circulation; regulates digestion; prevents cardiovascular problems and lowers blood pressure; can help prevent cancer.

He went on to explain that this tea is post-fermented tea and has been popular in China for more than 1500 years. (Green tea is non-fermented whereas black tea is completely fermented.) I am by no means an expert on tea, and understanding the production techniques of pu-erh tea will not help me drop a few kilos.  All I know is that Yunnan, Sichuan and the south western part of China are renowned for this dark tea that is often referred to as beauty tea, weight-losing tea, longevity tea or fitness tea.

Eight weeks later and endless cups of pu-erh tea, my weight control jeans were not exactly loose but at least I could zip them up without lying down;  I was now ready for Bangkok. I spent my last day in Chengdu stocking up on pu-erh tea.

I am convinced that pu-erh tea has helped me lose weight, but I am wondering how much more I have to drink to slow down the aging process and  improve my looks.

For more on pu-erh tea check out Seven Cups of Tea.

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