Which tea is healthier? Pu-erh Tea vs Green Tea

Pu-erh Tea vs Green Tea: Which One is Healthier?

What are Pu-erh tea and green tea? Pu-erh (Pu’er tea) and green tea are two types of tea made from the same Camellia Sinensis plant leaf. Teas made from this plant are the most popular, widely cultivated, and consumed teas in the world. This is also the same tea plant that produces other true teas like white tea, black tea, and oolong tea.

Pu-erh tea and green tea are the most popular varieties of tea in the world. There are many claims about Pu-erh’s health benefits like helping with weight loss [1]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22855451/. Some even say that Pu-erh is healthier than green tea. But some beg to differ. So this article will give you a simple answer.

We’ve done the research so you don’t have to: Pu-erh Tea vs Green Tea: Which One is Healthier?

The Basics of Pu-erh Tea and Green Tea

Both Pu-erh tea and green tea are made from Camellia Sinensis, a type of evergreen bush native to Asia. They both contain antioxidants, which help fight free radicals in the body. Both teas also contain caffeine (though Pu-erh sometimes has more than green tea), which can increase energy levels and metabolism.

Pu-erh tea is a type of black fermented tea that grows in Yunnan, west of China. It is known as the champagne of teas because it undergoes a microbial fermentation process (rather than simply oxidizing like other black teas), which gives it a unique taste. The color of Pu-erh tea is darker than green tea due to the Pu-erh tea extracts, and its flavor profile typically includes notes of sweet, malty, and earthy flavor.

Green tea is originally from China, but now it is produced in a lot of countries throughout the world, such as Japan, India, and Sri Lanka. Unlike Pu-erh tea, Green tea is the unfermented version of black tea.

Black teas such as Darjeeling and Earl Grey are processed in a way that brings out a stronger flavor and darker color, resulting in the production of caffeine and other molecules that can be consumed by the body. If you’re looking for an antioxidant-rich beverage with less caffeine than coffee or black tea, green tea is one to try. Green tea is also made using unfermented leaves, which results in its lighter color when brewed.

Tea plantations in Yunnan province, China.

Fermentation Process of Pu-erh Tea

While green tea is unfermented, Pu-erh tea is a type of dried fermented tea, with a special natural aging process for several years during which the unique smooth taste develops. The Pu-erh process begins by sun-drying the leaves. Then, they’re piled up and wetted down repeatedly over several days. During this stage, enzymes and microorganisms are introduced to encourage fermentation.

Fermentation in the context of tea production involves microbial fermentation and oxidation of the tea leaves after they have been dried and rolled. This process is a Chinese specialty and produces tea known as 黑茶 hēichá (literally, ‘black tea’) commonly translated as ‘dark tea’. This produces beneficial bacteria which act as healthy probiotics for your body.

Once fermentation is complete, the leaves go through a final drying process before being packaged and sold.

Pu-erh tea can be purchased as loose leaf tea or in various compressed forms. The loose-leaf form is often called “raw Pu-erh tea” (生茶) to distinguish it from its compressed counterparts, which are called “ripe Pu-erh tea” (熟茶). The raw Pu-erh has a bitter taste when steeped, while the ripe Pu-erh has a milder flavor. Traditionally each batch of Pu-erh would be compressed into a cake form by hand and then wrapped in paper or bamboo leaves.

Pu-erh is a type of tea that can be aged for decades or longer, with Pu-erh from older vintages fetching higher prices. Accelerated aging has sped up the process and allowed these teas to become more widely available, known as aged Pu-erh.

Health benefits of Pu-erh tea

Pu-erh tea is a traditional Chinese tea that has been used as traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat high blood pressure, among other ailments. In recent years, it has gained popularity in the West due to its purported health benefits.

Today, Pu-erh tea is gaining popularity among tea enthusiasts and even medical professionals as a potential superfood. Pu-erh tea has many health benefits thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols.

Interestingly, studies have shown that Pu-erh tea can help you with weight loss and lower blood pressure. The reason for this is that it is able to boost your metabolism and decrease your body fat [2]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22855451/.

Studies also show that drinking Pu-erh tea can lower bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol, leading to improved heart health [3]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25016260/. Pu-erh tea drinkers are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than other groups. This may be due to Pu-erh tea’s ability to lower bad cholesterol, but it may also be connected to the way the antioxidants in Pu-erh tea help strengthen blood vessels which helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Woman pouring Chinese tea in a teapot

How to Brew a Cup of Good Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea is a fermented dark tea produced in the Yunnan province of China. It is a specialty of the region and has been produced in this manner for more than 1,700 years. The fermentation process requires the tea to be aged, which can be anywhere from several months to several decades.

Pu-erh teas are available in many forms, including loose-leaf, compressed into bricks or discs, and as “ready-to-drink” teas packaged in individual serving bags. Pu-erh tea is usually served as a hot drink, but it can also be enjoyed cold over ice.

Pu-erh tea has a strong taste that includes notes of earthiness and woodiness. It’s higher in caffeine than green tea but has less caffeine than coffee or black teas. Pu-erh tends to be more expensive because it’s aged for extended periods of time before being sold.


To brew a good cup of Pu-erh tea using loose leaf, follow these instructions:

Step 1: Prepare Tea Leaves

Add about 3 grams (1 teaspoon) of loose-leaf Pu-erh tea to your cup or teapot. If you are using a Gaiwan (a traditional Chinese bowl with a lid), add about 5 grams (2 teaspoons) of loose-leaf.

Step 2: Remove Impurities

It is a Chinese tradition to rinse Pu-erh tea leaves with boiling water and discard the first infusion before drinking. You may also wish to rinse and remove the first infusion to remove impurities before drinking from later infusions.

Step 3: Add Hot Water

With the rinsed tea leaves, fill your cup or teapot with boiling water (95-100 degrees Celsius). You may want to use filtered water for the best results.

Step 4: Serve

Wait about 90 seconds or 3-5 minutes) before removing the leaves from your cup or pouring out the contents of your Gaiwan.

Gaiwan: Traditional Chinese bowl with a lid

Oxidation Process of Green Tea

Green tea comes from unfermented leaves of the plant, while Pu-erh is made from fermented leaves.

The oxidation process of green tea is actually quite simple. In terms of its chemistry, green tea is not fermented and therefore does not undergo the oxidation process in the same way that other types of teas do. Green tea is a non-fermented product, meaning that the leaves used to make it is steamed, dried, and rolled as soon as they are harvested.

This is what makes green tea so special—it doesn’t go through any sort of fermentation process before being wrapped up in the little bag you buy at the supermarket or served in a cute little cup at your local café. The result of this quick turnaround time means that green tea has a lighter flavor than other kinds of teas like oolong or black (which both undergo some sort of fermentation process before being packaged). Store it in the proper way and you can make it last a long time.

Green tea is minimally processed and retains its natural flavor and color. It has a light, refreshing flavor that makes you feel like you’re drinking something healthy without sacrificing any enjoyment from your cup full.

Green tea loose leaves

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Studies suggest that green tea may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. There is also evidence that it lowers blood pressure. It can also be used to treat cardiovascular diseases and oral cavity diseases.

There is also a wide range of uses for green tea in diabetes, exercise enhancement, inflammatory bowel disease, and skin disorders. Most impressive are the well-controlled epidemiologic studies, aimed at altering the brain aging process, which can help to prevent cells from dying. Although the human clinical data is still limited, this study shows that green tea has its potential use in everyday life and medical communities. [4]https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2005.11.521.

Instead of popping glucosamine pills, another way to improve bone health is to drink green tea. As we age, it’s inevitable that our bones get weaker by nature. Lack of nutrition, exercise, smoking, and drinking can expedite this bone mass-reducing process. Studies have shown that green tea can reduce bone-degrading cell activity.

This is thanks to the polyphenols in green tea. One of the factors of bone loss is due to oxidative stress [5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754215/. The polyphenols in green tea fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress and in turn slow down the process of bone loss [6]https://www.algaecal.com/expert-insights/bone-health-benefits-of-tea/.

How to Brew a Cup of Good Green Tea

If you’d like to brew a cup of good green tea, it’s not just steeping the tea leaves in hot water, hoping for the best. You will first have to get the right kind of green tea. Next, it’s about knowing what temperature the water needs to be and what’s ideal for your specific kind of tea leaves. It’s about knowing how long to let the tea steep and how to tell when it’s ready. Lastly, it’s about knowing how much milk or sugar you need (if any) and getting the ratios exactly right.


Step 1: Buy Good Green Tea.

What qualifies as good green tea? The leaves should be whole and intact; they shouldn’t have been broken into bits and ground up (like in some store brands). You should also be able to smell the aromatics of the tea as soon as you open the container. If it doesn’t smell like anything, don’t bother buying it!

Step 2: Use the Right Amount of Tea.

If you’re using bagged tea, use a new bag for every eight ounces of water. If you’re using loose leaf tea, scoop about a teaspoon into a filter or infuser.

Step 3: Use the Right Temperature Water.

Green tea is delicate and can burn if you steep it in boiling water. Wait until the water has cooled from an initial boil to about 180 degrees before pouring it over your tea.

Step 4: Don’t Steep for too Long

Steeping for too long will make your green tea bitter, so only steep for about two minutes before removing your tea bags or filter/infuser from the water.

Pu-erh Tea vs Green Tea: Key Differences

Let’s end off with a summary of the key differences between Pu-erh tea and green tea.

Differences in Health Benefits

Pu-erh tea is made from the same type of leaf as green tea, but it’s dampened longer or fermented to allow more time for enzymatic reactions and oxidation. Some believe this process also increases its health benefits because they’re not oxidizing as quickly.

Differences in Flavor

Pu-erh tea is traditionally steamed twice or even three times (sometimes up to six times) before being dried. This allows it to retain more of its fragrance and flavor while at the same time increasing its shelf life. A machine called a “Pu-erh boiler” is used to steam the leaves during this process, which can be done several times a day if necessary and controlled by a timer so that no heat is lost due to air circulation around the leaves.

Green tea leaves are only lightly steamed before being dried, so they don’t retain nearly as much aroma or flavor during their processing into green tea powder. Pu-erh has a richer flavor than green tea, but this depends on an individual’s taste buds.

Differences in Anti-Cancer Properties

A lot of people prefer Pu-erh over green for taste alone—it has a distinctively earthy quality that’s difficult for those who have only had green teas to describe—but perhaps the most important difference between them is the antioxidant level found in Pu-erh versus green: In one study, researchers found that Pu-erh had an antioxidant potential 200% greater than that of regular green tea!

Differences in Caffeine Content

For an 8 Oz (250 ml) from the same part of the Camellia Sinensis plant with the standard brewing methods, green tea has less caffeine than Pu-erh tea. This is due to the difference in the processing of both teas.

If tea leaves are put through a fermentation process, it sets up an environment for the growth and reproduction of microorganisms. A study was done by the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui on the effect of microbial fermentation on the caffeine content of tea leaves. The research showed that the caffeine content in tea leaves increased reasonably after treating leaves with microorganisms for a period of time [7]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16131136/.

Pu-erh tea has an average of 42 mg of caffeine, close to that of black tea, while green tea has about 25 mg of caffeine [8]https://www.caffeineinformer.com/the-caffeine-database. The fermentation process has resulted in higher caffeine content in Pu-erh tea than that of green tea which did not go through the fermentation process.

Pu-erh tea and green tea loose leaves

Pu-erh Tea or Green Tea: Which One is Healthier

Both Pu-erh tea and green tea have tremendous health benefits, but it’s important to brew each type of tea in a way that properly brings out its unique qualities. They are processed differently which leads them to promote different levels of nutrition and health benefits.

In conclusion, there isn’t a clear overall winner. Pu-erh tea has higher caffeine content and anti-oxidants than green tea. They can be positive or negative to the body depending on how much tea you consume per day. Due to the caffeine, drinking too much Pu-erh tea and green tea can cause side effects to the body, like heartburn.

In short, both are beneficial to your health so long you have a balanced diet on a daily basis. Ultimately, they are a better choice of beverage than soft drinks and other high sugar content drinks.

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