Tea and Health

Tea and Health:
Tea’s health benefits have long been known and acknowledged. High levels of antioxidants called flavonoids, along with fluoride, manganese, potassium, vitamin B6, carotene, vitamin C, and folic acid, to name a few, are found in tea.

tencha matchaEach week it seems as if we hear about a new study touting the numerous health benefits of tea. Among the various recent studies conducted on tea, some of the most promising findings include:

  • Tea has been shown in studies to fight and prevent the growth of cancer cells
  • Tea boosts the body?s immune system and helps fight cold, flu, and other viruses because of the effects of tea on the body’s T cells
  • Tea has been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack and lower blood pressure by drinking at least 8 oz. of tea a day
  • Drinking 3-4 cups of tea daily has been shown to improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Tea flavonoids may be bone builders
  • Tea stops the growth of bacteria that causes bad breath
  • Green tea appears to accelerate calorie burning, including fat calories
  • Tea can lower “bad” cholesterol levels

About Tea:
True tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

In fine teas, only the top two leaves and bud are hand-picked to be processed. The production of tea is truly a labor intensive process: up to 80,000 hand-picked shoots are needed to produce a pound of top-quality tea.

There are literally thousands of varieties of teas, but the way a tea is processed determines its classification:

  • Black teas are the most processed among the varieties. Freshly plucked leaves are laid out to dry, and are then rolled in order to lightly bruise the leaves, which encourages them to release their juices. The leaves are then laid out in a cool, humid room to absorb oxygen. The leaf color changes from green to a coppery red, and is what gives black tea its distinctive liquor. The fermentation is then stopped, and the leaves are heat fired and dried.
  • Oolong teas are semi-oxidized before being heat fired. Oolongs can be deeply or lightly oxidized, resulting in some oolongs that are either very green or closer to a black tea. Oolongs are prized for their complex, floral and fruity characteristics.
  • Green teas are not oxidized at all, but rather are simply withered and pan fired or steamed and dried. Fresh green tea might taste slightly sweet, vegetal, nutty, and/or grassy, but shouldn?t be bitter if prepared properly.
  • White teas are the least processed of all. Only the youngest leaves and buds are picked, still covered with down, and are steamed and dried. White tea produces a fragrant, sweet tasting brew.

Making a great cup of tea is a result of three major factors:

  1. Water, freshly drawn, filtered or soft, and heated to the proper temperature
  2. High quality tea, measured out correctly
  3. Correct infusion time, by removing your brew from its leaves when ready