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Fu Cha – called Mongolian Diet Tea and said to be a cholesterol and blood sugar inhibitor. Fact or fiction?

 [ IMAGE Stack of different Fuzhuan teas ] Together with pu-erh tea, Fu Cha belongs to the class of ‘hei cha’ (or Dark Tea). Probably due to the greater interest in pu-erh tea and its general absence from tea shops in the West, Fu Cha has attracted very little attention in the western world so far. But for indigenous people in Tibet, Mongolia and North-West China, Fu Cha is an important part of the diet. These people generally live on a high protein/high fat diet due to the scarcity of fresh fruit and vegetables and they believe in Fu Cha as a digestive aid, source of minerals and vitamins as well as general health promoter. Recent research found Fu Cha to be beneficial for the digestion of starch and protein and supports the longstanding beliefs of Fu Cha being effective to control blood sugar levels for diabetics and acting as a digestive aid.

 [ IMAGE Golden Flower fungus in Fu Cha ] While Fu Cha is classified together with pu-erh as Dark Tea, there are some fundamental differences between the two. Both teas go through a secondary fermentation process, but the unique feature of Fu Cha is its fungal fermentation phase during which the beneficial fungus Jin Hua or ‘Golden Flower’ (Eurotium Cristatum) is formed.
Fu Cha is also known as Fuzhuan Cha (literally: Fu Brick Tea) since it normally comes compressed into brick shape. Originally known as Hu Cha (it is produced in China’s Hunan province), the name was later changed to Fu Cha, reflecting the tradition of processing this tea during the Fu days (the hottest days of summer). The process of making Fu Cha involves a short steaming (or pan firing) of the fresh leaves, sun-drying and then piling the leaves for up to 1 year under controlled conditions, then compression into bricks, fungal fermentation and final drying. During the process of fungal fermentation, the ‘Golden Flower’ is formed and its quantity is a measure for the quality of Fu Cha. To grow abundant ‘Golden Flower’, several factors are important: the compression of the brick can’t be too high nor too loose and the temperature and moisture of the fermentation room has to provide the perfect conditions for the fungus to grow.

 [ IMAGE Fu Cha with Eurotium Cristatum ] In a study published last month, Wu et al. (2010) investigated the impact of Fu Cha on digestion by surveying the main chemical components at the different stages of Fu Cha manufacture and testing their effect on digestive enzymes. The scientists detected great changes of the main components during the fungal fermentation phase, notably a pronounced increase in organic acids. The tea was then tested for its effects on pancreatic enzymes activity (Note: the pancreas is the main digestive gland in the human body). The researchers tested its effect on three pancreatic enzymes: amylase (breaks down starch into sugar), protease (breaks down protein) and lipase (important in fat digestion). They found promotional effects on amylase and protease, but no effect on lipase. In conclusion, the researchers suggest Fu Cha as a digestive aid for starch and protein digestion.
This result is very interesting, since Fu Cha has long been regarded as a beneficial supplement for diabetics to regulate blood sugar. Its effect the enzyme amylase can explain that phenomenon.

Fu Cha, together with the other Dark Teas like pu-erh, has a range of further health benefits:

  • Rich in nutrients: most notably vitamins and minerals, plus protein and amino acids
  • Antibacterial: inhibits the growth of several common bacteria
  • Anti-aging: rich in antioxidants and trace elements
  • Weight loss, cardiovascular disease: helps to reduce blood fat

In fact, Fu Cha’s antibacterial properties are so pronounced, that a study by Mo et al. (2008) investigated the use of extracts from Fu Cha and pu-erh tea as natural food preservatives. The researchers found that extracts from these teas were very effective to inhibit the growth of various food-borne pathogen and spoilage bacteria.

2009 Fu Cha Brick, $38.60 / 200g (If you would like to buy some, please visit our ordering page)

Sources:
Wu, Y.Y., Ding, L., Xia, H.L. and Tu, Y.Y. (2010). Analysis of the major chemical compositions in Fuzhuan brick-tea and its effect on activities of pancreatic enzymes in vitro. African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 9 (40), pp. 6748-6754

Mo, H.,  Zhu, Y. and Chen, Z. (2008). Microbial fermented tea – a potential source of natural food preservatives. Trends in Food Science and Technology 19, pp.124-130

[techtags: fu cha, diabetes, hei cha, dark tea, blood sugar, mongolian diet tea, golden flower fungus, Eurotium Cristatum]

8 Responses to Fu Cha – called Mongolian Diet Tea and said to be a cholesterol and blood sugar inhibitor. Fact or fiction? »»


Comments

  1. Comment by Craig | 2010/12/07 at 21:00:31

    I recall coming across this type of tea on another online vendor but had little idea as to what it was exactly. At any rate it didn’t mention any particular fungus.

    Is this the same tea that Tibetan monks boil up with salt and Yak butter?
    Also how does the taste compare to Pu-erh tea?

    Cheers.

  2. Jo
    Comment by Jo | 2010/12/08 at 16:47:35

    Hi Craig,
    as far as I know, the Tibetan monks usually use pu-erh for their yak-butter tea.
    The golden flower fungus is specific to Fu Cha and it wouldn’t be classified as such if it lacks the fungus (the fungal fermentation phase, when it is grown, sets it apart from other dark teas). The taste is reminiscent of pu-erh (due to the fermentation), but generally less ‘harsh’ than many raw pu-erhs of similar young age. Fu Cha is often aged, just like pu-erh, but a large quantity is consumed young. The fungus brings a unique flavour/aroma combination to Fu Cha that is often described as fungal-floral. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t tasted it. My guess is, that if you enjoy sheng pu-erh, you’ll enjoy fu cha.

  3. Comment by k.sureshbabu | 2011/06/07 at 06:01:47

    Hello Sir,
    i saw your hu cha tea is it possible to get sample in my country.In INDIA we are some slimming tea’s .but in your tea it has quality of diabetic control too it is good .In india you can make good money.

    Thanking You

    K.Sureshbabu

  4. Jo
    Comment by Jo | 2011/06/07 at 07:54:28

    Hi K.,
    thanks for your interest. I’ve sent you a personal email about sampling Fu Cha.

  5. Comment by Ainee Beland | 2011/09/06 at 07:54:01

    Hi,

    I am avid tea drinker, green teas to be specific. I have been researching teas this past year and have found that I like some of the other teas that I have encountered and as I visit tea shops and obtain samples or make purchases when able, I do report my tasting on Steepster.com; tea community.

    Might it be possible to obtain a sample of this Fu Cha Mongolian Diet Tea?

    I have experience Numi Teas for Pu-erh blended tea bags and they are quite nice. I prefer tea bags as opposed to loose leaf tea; but I have tried a few types. Pu-erh seems very complex tea in the making; not easy to use it seems since it involves a process and at times seemingly complex.

    I thank you in advance; if you are familiar with Steespter.com please comment me in (seule771). Best,

    Ainee Beland

  6. Comment by Sarah | 2013/05/30 at 04:08:36

    Nice post which The researchers tested its effect on three pancreatic enzymes: amylase , protease and lipase. They found promotional effects on amylase and protease, but no effect on lipase. In conclusion, the researchers suggest Fu Cha as a digestive aid for starch and protein digestion. Thanks a lot for posting.


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