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Eun Jeong works as a tour guide. Usually she is showing Japanese tourists around Seoul. She’s been getting tired of that and has been trying to get her foot in the door for outbound tours, where she takes Koreans to different countries.

She took her first outbound job to China a few months ago. Missed her a lot. I also wondered what she would bring me back. Other than a tiny terra cotta teapot and pervers naked cartoon character (it’s Jjangu!) used to test the heat of tea water, she brought back lots of teas.

Her prized find was what she called “Boy Cha.”

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In our dialect, we call it “Pu-erh Tea.” It’s a special fermented Chinese tea from Pu’er county in Yunnan, China. This stuff is really cool. It’s created unlike any other tea. It uses older leaves from tall and old trees. It’s matured outside in moist air and is then stored underground for one to four years to ferment and mellow. Some teas can be fifty years old!

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These teas are sold in bricks and were once used as a form of currency.

We’ve been living off iced Pu-erh tea all summer. We’ve been using it so much, that we just call it “water,” as in, “Hey, do you want some water?”

I’m also very suspicious of herbal medical claims. I want to see studies using the scientific methos before I believe anything. Some studies have substantiated claims that this stuff reduces cholesterol and saturated fats in humans. It may also assist in weight loss.

Yeah, I was very skeptical when Eun Jeong was saying that. “Drink this. Help you lose weight.”

So far this summer, my tummy has gone down a little. I’m not sure how responsible the Pu-erh tea was for that. I’ve also been working out and cutting back on my beer intake.

But the tea is very good. It’s nutty and a little earthy. Eun Jeong makes it very light, Asian style. Pu-erh is very expensive, but thankfully, only a dab’ll do ya.

To prepare a gallon pot of tea, Eun Jeong just uses a half teaspoonful — yes, half a teaspoonful — of caked black tea leaves. The leaves should smell burned. She just boils a big ass teapot of water, steeps the tea, and refrigerates the tea in pitchers.

To make a cup of Pu-erh tea, use only a pinch per cup.

Since it is fermented, Pu-erh tea has a long, long shelf life. So a $50 cake of Pu-erh will last you maybe a few years. It’s worth the investment.

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