When we think of headaches and managing the pain, many think to grab some vitamins, take some herbal supplements, get a massage, maybe acupuncture and even have a shot of a strong cup of coffee. However, few people consider taking a cup of strong hot tea for the pain, let alone a vintage tea called Pu-Erh.
I came across this ancient remedy several years ago while on travels and had a bad bout with a disturbing headache. Without any supplements at hand and the thought of having coffee was nauseating, I opted to try Pu-Erh tea for the first time based on a recommendation at a local tea house.
I was told that Pu-Erh is considered to be in a class of its own because it is a post-fermented tea, thus explaining its hefty price tag. This medicinal tea has numerous health benefiting properties despite its high caffeine content. Due to its high amount of antioxidants it is beneficial as a cancer preventive, aids in digestion and metabolism, cardiovascular benefits, lowers cholesterol (due to lovastatin) keeps one alert and relaxed at the same time without the jitteriness of coffee (due to its theanine component), helps with vision, halitosis and healthy teeth.
When the tea came out in a cast iron tea pot the smell was very pungent, bold, dark, and earthy. Something I had never experienced before. While I poured it into the stark white tea-cup, its dark brown almost black color was very mysterious looking. One whiff of it and I thought, ‘oh my, will I be able to drink this?’ The aroma was that of tobacco, leather, earth, must and fermented tea leaves all rolled into one. I proceeded to take a sip and the taste did match the smell; however the aftertaste in my mouth went through a variety of complex flavors from nutty, fruity to bitter.
After my first cup, I was hooked. I wanted more, although the taste was definitely an acquired one. I sipped the tea and emptied the pot in half an hour and proceeded to notice that the awful pain in my head was starting to dissipate. My headache was starting to release slowly in waves. Pu-Erh took the edge off the feeling of my head wanting to burst. I was shockingly impressed yet at the same time intrigued at how could this tea actually help me.
Late that night when I got my hands on a lap-top, I began researching anything I could find on Pu-Erh, and was so surprised to learn that Pu-Erh was used in ancient China to alleviate headaches and migraines. After my first hand experience and reading up on its health benefits, I now carry Pu-Erh tea bags wherever I go or travel just in case. I am a Pu-Erh Connoisseur!
Interesting Fact: The last emperor in China’s history said “Drink Pu-Erh in winter”.