Like wine, cheese, and possibly you (if you drink enough antioxidant-rich pu-erh), some teas get better with age. Nearly 2,000 years ago, horses and mules would transport large quantities of Camellia sinensis plant down the “Tea Horse Roads” and stop in China’s Pu-erh village. Chinese emperors favored this tea’s strong, musky flavor. Today studies show pu-erh’s health benefits also may be richer than those provided by black, white, green, and oolong varieties of tea. While all true tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, pu-erh’s process is unique in that it involves fermentation rather than oxidation (the process that creates regular black tea). After the plant’s leaves are picked, dampened, and put in a dark, dry space, they’re left to age for months, sometimes years. Finally, the tea is dried and classified by year and region like wine. The result? A rich, antioxidant-rich beverage that may be more effective in fighting cancer and heart disease than other tea types, according to research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. When picking your tea, remember that age truly is an asset: Statins (which help lower cholesterol), total polyphenol content, and free-radical fighting ability increase the longer the tea is fermented.

Try:

Numi Organic Emperor’s Pu-erh

Rishi Ancient Pu-erh Palace

Golden Moon Pu-erh Chai