A Tea Addict's Journal

Stomach problems

May 8, 2008 · 14 Comments

I had a maocha from Beijing today. It’s been almost two years since I bought it, and it’s showing the first signs of age. However, it’s still very young, and in case the taste wasn’t obvious enough, my stomach protested.

My stomach doesn’t like young puerh very much. It never really has. These days, however, I can’t drink it more than two days in a row, or in some cases, even one day, without it protesting that I’m doing it eternal harm.

The tea people I associate with in Hong Kong (and pretty much any other Chinese tea drinker in Southern China) believe that young puerh isn’t very good for you. It’s harsh, and it can damage your stomach, at the very least. It’s also supposed to be bad for your kidney, but I think that’s more a Chinese medicine thing and longer term. You don’t always see the immediate consequences for that, but you definitely see immediate consequences for drinking too much young puerh. Tiffany, of Best Tea House, has long complained of having a weak stomach, especially after so many years of drinking too much tea. These days if you give her a cup of young puerh or green oolong, she’ll sip it very slowly, trying to basically not drink any of it (or at most, for a taste to see how the tea is). The same problem doesn’t really apply when it’s heavy roasted tea or an aged tea.

I find myself more or less in the same boat these days. I didn’t drink a young puerh yesterday, but the day before I did. It shows immediately. It’s just a mild stomach discomfort today, but it can become a full blown stomach ache if, say, I drink more young stuff tomorrow. It doesn’t really matter what kind of young puerh it is — the result is more or less the same.

These things are obviously also affected by your diet, etc, but that’s why you don’t see me talking much about young puerh these days, and if you’ve sent me a sample of something (especially those under 5 years of age) and I haven’t gotten to it yet — please forgive me for being slow 🙂

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14 responses so far ↓

  • Anonymous // May 8, 2008 at 1:30 am | Reply

    Yeah – I find that it doesn’t agree with mine either, and I definitely rarely drink it more than a day or two in a row. Roasted or aged teas are definitely a lot easier on my system, usually, and often even seem to be good for the stomach.

    Frustrating, because if you’re trying to get a sense of how good a tea is and how it’s going to age, you’ve got to at least try it, even if you can’t be sure of correctly predicting how it will end up – and I just can’t drink that much of the really green stuff.

  • Anonymous // May 8, 2008 at 1:40 am | Reply

    ps – I think pu’erh is supposed to have a lot of hot qi too, and I definitely notice that – sometimes it will give me canker sores or exacerbate existing ones.

    Some teas really seem to have much more of an effect on my body than others. Sometimes I wonder if bad effects from a tea could be due to contaminants rather than due to the tea itself.

  • mulcahyfeldman // May 8, 2008 at 9:26 am | Reply

    Forgive me for prying but when you refer to a stomachache, do you mean actual pain in the stomach? the upper left quadrant? Or do you mean intestinal distress? I thought true puerh was like having yogurt, friendly bacteria for your gut. Enlighten me please unless the matter is too private. Thanks. Eileen

  • MarshalN // May 8, 2008 at 10:59 am | Reply

    Will: I too think that perhaps it has something to do with pesticides, or just some other junk that makes its way into the tea, but I have no way of confirming that. Besdies… even for teas that I know are old tree, etc, if it’s young puerh, it will get me a little unwell

    Eileen: Stomach, yes. Not intestinal distress. If anything, wet stored puerh has laxative effects sometimes….

  • Anonymous // May 8, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Reply

    I think these problems are made by caffeine in young pu erh. Because caffeine makes your stomach produce more digestive juices. But surely some other things in young tea (some fluorine etc.) can make this problems too.

    I don’t think that this is because of pesticides because you can try some organic cakes and I don’t think cooked pu erh and roasted oolonges include less pesticides than uncooked pu erh 😉

    Hope you’ll understand my post 🙂

  • Anonymous // May 8, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Reply

    I always found it a little odd that much of the online tea world seems to be obsessed with drinking pretty much the only tea that comes out of China not yet ready for consumption.
    Perhaps your body has more of an aversion to young sheng after subjecting it to such a sustained onslaught of the stuff over the last year or so, I’m sure there’s a few posts on young sheng around here somewhere.
    Everything in moderation and whatnot.

  • MarshalN // May 8, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Reply

    Heh, I’ve never been a huge fan, actually, but I decided that since I was in China, it would be the best time for me to get a taste of a wide array of young sheng — I wouldn’t be able to taste that much variety otherwise.

    Now that I’m back on this side of the big pond, there’s no reason to subject myself to a lot of that anymore….

  • shichangpu // May 9, 2008 at 1:11 am | Reply

    thanks for bringing up the subject once again, marshaln. i’ll try to refrain from a lengthy chinese medicine diatribe, but yes, young sheng is problematic–and it’s not the caffeine, the adulterants (well, the adulterants aren’t good, but…), etc. it’s the cold/yin property of the tea. these things are felt less when folks eat high fat diets, but over time there will be a depleting effect–stomach, kidneys, etc. it’s all a question of diet, constitution, age, etc.

    (personally, im having trouble with even moderately aged sheng these days–10 years or less is no good for my system.)

  • davelcorp // May 9, 2008 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    A TCM doc may suggest that over-thinking can contribute to the detrimental effect.

  • mulcahyfeldman // May 10, 2008 at 1:28 am | Reply


  • Anonymous // May 10, 2008 at 3:33 am | Reply

    I’m surprised that there seems to be so much of a consensus about this topic.  Similar comments were posted in a thread in the puerh community a month or so ago as well.  I believe that I’ve consumed a fair amount of young sheng and, thus far, I’ve never experienced any ill effects (with the exception of some awful astringent flavors in undesirable young sheng).  For the amount of sheng purchased online and the vast amount of general discussion/tastings of sheng, it’s amazing to hear all of the general dislike and concern.

    As for adulterants/pesticides, how would sheng puerh differ from any other type of tea? Even the term “organic” has seemingly been infiltrated with the same marketing (re: unreliable) sensibilities, as “wild arbor tree” puerh.  If it were adulterants upsetting your stomach, it could easily be surmised that other teas would have the same effect.  Just my two cents.

  • Philip // December 16, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Reply

    So, I bought a whole bushel full of sheng samples from Yunnan Sourcing and was excited to try them before buying. But after a week, there is no doubt that it messed with my stomach. I had to stop drinking the shengs altogether, and moved to aged/roasted oolongs for a day or two. Presto change-o and my stomach was fine. Back to the sheng and the stomach as instantly a mess. &, in general, I do not have a sensitive stomach.

    So, I suppose I’ll have to work through my samples at a more leisurely pace.

  • Norita // January 16, 2019 at 6:34 pm | Reply

    1/16/2019 Norita
    I really enjoy the taste of the ‘early green tea.’ However overt the last 2 weeks I have experienced some very distressing stomachs and intestinal discomfort ,so much so, iI needed to see an MD. who had no explanation for my troubles. After reading all the above , I think I have found the answer. Thank you all !

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