This week’s pick is the Chocolate Pu’erh tea blend from Ministry of Teas, who have previously brought us wonderfully unique teas like the Himalaya Green Chai, and this one is another quirky and exciting blend. Teas known as ‘pu’erh’ are made with black tea that has been fermented using microbial fermentation and oxidation to make what is known as hēichá, or ‘dark tea’ in Chinese, where this tea originates. A lot of pu’erh tea is stored and packaged in a solid brick or disc, and pieces are cut off as needed, and is thought to improve with age, much like a fine wine. This tea contains just two ingredients: black tea and natural chocolate flavouring.
Now I will admit this tea was a bit out of my comfort zone, being fermented tea, and I was not quite sure what to expect from the taste. But in the name of science, I bravely continued and added freshly boiling water to this tea, There is a subtle but distinct aroma present – many people have described it as an ‘earthy’ smell, although I must say is isn’t a million miles away from old socks! There is something else as well – I can smell a definitely hint of chocolate flavour. I did add a teaspoon of sugar, as I find this helps to really bring out the flavour of the tea, although sweetener would work just as well, or skip it entirely if you don’t normally drink your tea with sugar. The brew is very dark, quite a bit darker than a regular black tea, but still clear and not cloudy which is a sign of a good-quality pu’erh, and continued to get darker as I steeped it for 2 minutes. I took a sip, and..
…was pleasantly surprised! Shocked, even. The taste is definitely that of a black tea, but with a definite taste of something rich, earthy, and almost savoury and yes, there is that undertone of chocolate in the mix. I did not add milk but some people do add milk to pu’erh, which I can definitely understand. If you enjoy the taste of strongly savoury or ‘umami’ foods like mushrooms, truffles, strong cheese and olives, this tea will be right up your street.
Good to know
This tea does contain caffeine, and would be a great drink option during the day if you need a bit of a pick-me-up but fancy something a little different. In traditional Chinese medicine, pu’erh tea was considered to be good for digestion and was often drunk after a meal.
There are many claims that pu-erh tea can promote weight loss in addition to the usual health benefits of tea, although studies are limited. One study in particular found that pu’erh tea appears to be effective for reducing cholesterol, but of course further research is needed. Pu’erh tea is also associated with calm alertness and has the same high antioxidant content as regular black tea.