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Part 1: How I lost 40 pounds - Pu Erh Tea and My Weight Loss Journey by Johnny Shieh

This is the first part of Johnny’s Weight Loss Journey with Pu Erh Tea

                Part 1: The Start & The Journey

                Part 2: Final Thoughts on What works and what doesn’t

My name is Johnny Shieh.  I occasionally teach Pu Erh tea classes in the local Pittsburgh community and help put out blog content for this site.  I have debated many times if I should put myself out there regarding my Pu Erh tea drinking experience and my weight loss journey.  The main concern is probably how “weight-loss-tea” is easily a very scammy topic and it’s hard to anticipate how people will react to my experience. 

However, I do in fact drink tea every weekday and on most weekends.  I try to walk my talk.  This is my most sincere and genuine way of sharing a very intimate experience that I worked really hard for.  You can decide if it’s the same walk you want to participate in. 

This post will be my attempt to answer the billion dollar question: Does Pu Erh tea really help with increasing metabolism and burning fat?

**Side note, Tim Ferris – author of four books: The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, The 4-Hour Chef, and Tools of Titans has also put out a video blog including Pu Erh tea as an ingredient for energy boost & fat loss:


How it started

I come from a very traditional Asian family, with a very boring diet.  At home, we use very little oil and nothing is fried (less than 8 oz of oil used a year).  I grew up without candy, chocolate, and soda.  Most of mom’s cooking were water boiled (veggies and meat), with some soy sauce as condiments.  I was sent off to college here in the US with a rather fit body type. 

College welcomed me with the Freshman 15 – Gaining 15 pounds the first year of study.  My goodness!  Free soda refills, all-you-can-eat-buffets with tons of fried chicken, and even make-your-own-burgers at Read Hall cafeteria.  My friend and I coined the term penta-burger, where we would stack 5 layers of beef patty and Swiss cheese.  It was really, really good. 


**The trick to eating it was you had to take a bit of the top half first, then the bottom half.  Don’t try to bite from top to bottom the same time because 1. It’s humongous.  2. The inside pressure from biting causes the burger to fall apart outward…

Unfortunately, there was something I wasn’t told about college.  Freshman 15 was not the end…  What was to follow was the Sophomore 15, the Junior 15, and even the Senior 15. 

By the time I graduated college and went back home…  Mom barely recognized me. 

My first job out of college was in Shanghai.  By this time, I was not the athletic martial artist I once was.  Instead of referring to me by my name, my coworkers simply called me that fat guy.  So much for a respectable work place…  Yeah, that sucked.  It needed to stop.


What I did / What mom did

Mom made Pu Erh tea for me every morning and every night (yeah I lived at home…).  32 oz in the morning and 32 oz at night.  I drank Pu Erh tea every single day when I worked in Shanghai (2008 - 2010). 

Asides from drinking tea, I also made a lot of other changes to my life:

  • Exercised at least 5 hours a week
  • Tracked ALL my calories intake in a spreadsheet (till this day, I still do)
  • Setup weight loss goals, tracked them weekly and measured my progress
  • HIIT (High Intensive Interval Training) workout 3 times a week

Over 18 months, I lost about 40 pounds. 



 **That Fat Guy (2008) vs. Normal Guy (2016)

There are a few things I want to point out. 

It is very possible tea had nothing to do with my weight loss.  My research on the internet shows that any “one” of my changes could have led to weight loss.  It is also very possible that everything was bogus, and none of the above helped me lose my weight.  Maybe instead, I got hit by lightning in my sleep and my body actually changed materially.  The lightning strike turned me into a mini-version of The Flash with extremely fast metabolic rates. 

To be clear, my approach was not to find the best way to lose weight, or isolate which method of losing weight was more effective.  My goal was to just lose weight, and not be referred to as “that fat guy anymore.”  I researched “weight loss” extensively and gathered all the themes that reoccurred the most.  Then, I did ALL OF THEM.  I did all of them for 18 months.  And I lost 40 pounds. 

Read Part 2 of this journey for Johnny's final thoughts on Pu Erh tea and weight loss.  

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