If you haven’t heard of pu-erh tea you may be shocked to learn that some of the rarest leaves can fetch upwards of $35,000 per ounce. In China and the neighboring countries pu-erh tea has been prized for its health benefits for over 2,000 years. Pu-erh is one of those rare products that only increases in value over time, which makes it a great investment. So, what is exactly that drives the pu-erh tea market within its country of origin and especially abroad?
The answer struck me as I was driving to work listening to Malcom Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast. Gladwell introduces us to a concept called “generous orthodoxy,” coined by the theologian, Hans Frei. Gladwell explains the intrinsic paradox of the concept since, “to be orthodox is to be committed to tradition, but to be generous is to be open to change,” and then goes on to both boldly and aptly claim that the best way to live our lives is to find a middle ground.
Applying traditional methods as an innovative way to approach health is a paradox in itself, but pu-erh offers that possibility, a middle ground of sorts. The act of ritual, of practicing traditions, despite all of the glimmering distractions that shine brightly and reverberate through our bodies (quite literally) is one of balance. This is especially true when the traditions are new. In addition to offering a moment of respite and absolute zen, pu-erh tea is so potent it is nearly medicinal in nature. Research shows that drinking pu-erh tea may reduce cholesterol levels, aid in weight loss, and provide a generous amount of polyphenols and antioxidants.Carried in every cup of pu-erh is centuries worth of tradition and knowledge. The very trees from which pu-erh is sourced, are all located in the Yunnan Province of China and have withstood the trials of time. Pu-erh tea flows forward providing us with nuanced insight and ancient wisdom, and it is in this way that pu-erh is generous in its orthodoxy remaining relevant and staying grounded.