History of Tea

 

Part 1 

Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after water.
The history of tea is long and convoluted, starting in China and working its way around the world causing revolutions in taste, lifestyle and politics.The discovery of tea actually influenced world history.

So where did tea originate? Who discovered tea? The honest answer is no one knows for sure. The most popular legend, however, takes us back to the year 2737 B.C. Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was a gifted herbalist and scientist. He was smart enough to insist that all drinking water be boiled for the sake of hygiene. One day, the Emperor and his servants stopped to rest and boil some water when they were out for a walk. Some dried leaves from a nearby tea bush blew into the water and the water turned brown. The emperor tasted the water, for scientific purposes, and exclaimed, “This is delicious”. According to legend, this is how tea was born.

Tea consumption spread throughout China and by the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), tea was the national drink in China. In 780 AD, a famous Chinese scholar by the name of Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea called the Cha Ching. He wrote about tea cultivation and preparation in ancient China.

Interestingly, even at that early time, additives were added to tea to create different flavours.  The ancient Chinese added, ginger, orange peel or peppermint as flavourings. It was also a custom to boil tea with onions. Lu Yu recommended that people always add salt to their tea, which we would consider strange today. Lu Yu also said that tea should always be consumed in an atmosphere of tranquility, so you shouldn’t make tea when you’re fighting with someone.

With the advent of Lu Yu’s book, tea became extremely popular in China and in 800 AD; tea began to be commercially cultivated.

In 1191, a Zen Buddhist missionary – Priest Yeisei, bought tea seeds from China to Japan, and he thought that the preparation of tea would enhance religious meditation. So tea in Japan instantly got approval from the royal family and monasteries, and spread throughout Japanese society. In Japan, the preparation of tea was elevated to an art form. The “Japanese Tea Ceremony” actually originated in China, but it died out there and was continued in Japan. It actually takes years to master the Tea Ceremony which is very complicated. Later, tea houses in which Japanese Hostesses, “the geisha” practiced the tea ceremony became very popular.

Another missionary, a Portuguese Jesuit Priest was the first European to try tea and he brought it back to Lisbon in 1560. It was the Portuguese and Dutch traders who first imported tea to Europe. In 1602 the Dutch East India Trading Company was formed and by 1610, regular shipments were going to France, Holland, and the Baltic countries.

Tea first came to Russia in 1618 when the Chinese embassy presented tea to the Czar. The Czar refused it as being a useless beverage, nevertheless tea eventually grew popular in Russia. In the late 1600′s, caravan trading began between China & Russia. Russians would trade their furs for Chinese tea. The horse and camel caravan journey took about a year and it was here that tea would be infused at night with smoke from the camp fires – so smoky teas like Lapsang Souchong and Russian Caravan were born. They are very strong teas with a strong smoke fragrance and flavours.

Tea became very fashionable in Holland, but because it was terribly expensive – over $100 per pound in the early 1600′s – it was only available to the wealthy. By 1675, the prices came down a bit, but it was still a luxury item. In Holland, tavern owners had to have a license to sell tea and got into the habit of serving teas outdoors in their gardens on portable tea sets with a heating unit, so people could enjoy tea outside in the tavern’s garden.

to be continued….

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



Health Benefits of Tea

Part 6 0f 6 

White Tea Boosts Stimulating Brain Waves
Even though white tea has the lowest level of caffeine of all the teas, it has the highest amount of L-theanine, an amino acid that perks you up naturally. L-theanine stimulates the production of alpha brain waves that makes you more focused and mentally alert.

Green Tea Protects Your Eyes
A study in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” says that Green Tea Protects your eyes. The Antioxidants in tea are absorbed by eye tissue helping to protect against glaucoma and other degenerative eye diseases. Since green tea has been proven to protect your heart and help prevent cancer, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is now testing green tea’s ability to fight Parkinson’s disease.

Black Tea Absorbs Heavy Metals
Fish is healthy and full of important omega – 3 fatty acids which help with everything from arthritis, to heart disease, to dementia. Were advised to eat fish twice a week but the problem is fish is also a source of mercury and other unhealthy heavy metals which are bad for the heart and blood vessels. Researchers at Perdue University did studies on tea and its ability to bind heavy metals like iron, lead and mercury. They found that the best inhibitor of mercury absorption in the stomach was BLACK TEA. Drinking Black Tea while you’re eating the fish  will help prevent up to 92% of mercury from entering your bloodstream.

Tea Tips 
The University of Iowa says that you can double the concentration of antioxidants if you dunk the tea bag up and down a few times instead fo letting it steep slowly. By the way, tea bags usually release more antioxidants than loose tea because the leaves are chopped up and there is more surface exposed to the water.

Never put milk in green tea. Green tea contains an antioxidant, EGCG and the casein protein in milk will bind with that and make it less effective. You can use soy or almond milk in tea which does not have casein.

The best thing to add to all teas is citrus. Squeezing lemon, lime or orange into tea increases the absorption of catechins by up to 80 %. Catechins are antioxidants that have lots of health benefits like shrinking belly-fat cells. The vitamin C in citrus stabilizes these antioxidants until they’re properly absorbed.

Weight Loss
Finally, one last tip… one very effective way to cut down on cravings for fattening desserts is to drink a tea similar to the taste you are craving. Everything from chocolate teas, to licorice, to vanilla hazelnut, to coconut cinnamon teas are available. If you explore a bit in ethnic area stores or European supermarkets, you’ll find a vast array of exotic flavours. Now if you drink a hazelnut or chocolate tea and add a bit of 5% cream to make it thicker, like a chocolate tea milkshake, it will probably cut your dessert cravings down with minimal calories and lots of health benefits.

In conclusion, I just want to encourage you to drink as much tea as possible…whether you like black, green, white or oolong…and be creative with your tea… add citrus peels, orange, lime, lemon juices and peel will add to your body’s absorption of healthy enzymes from the teas. Throw a bunch of fresh mint leaves into your hot or cold green or white teas, or add fresh sage leaves into your hot tea. Have fun and be creative!

Join us for our traditional high tea and enjoy a cup of your favourite tea!



Health Benefits of Tea

Part 5 0f 6 

Diabetes
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research centre has found that drinking black, green and particularly oolong tea improves blood glucose control both in diabetics and people without the disease. If you stir a half teaspoon of cinnamon into your tea, the combination significantly boosts the effectiveness of insulin to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high.

Food Poisoning
If you suspect food poisoning, couple black tea with a few pieces of burned toast, says the National Institute of Whole Health. The tannic acid in tea and charcoal in the toast will neutralize the toxins and help you get much better very quickly.

Heart Disease
Harvard University studies have shown that black tea drinkers have a 44% reduced risk of having a heart attack compared to non-tea drinkers. Research at the University of North Carolina confirmed that 12 different studies looking at tea consumption in a quarter million people found that those who drank tea have less incidence of heart attack. Tea appears to act on LDL, which is bad cholesterol by keeping cholesterol from being metabolized in a way that would clog the arteries and cause stoke.

Immune Strength
Pace University in New York found that all teas, even commercial ice teas like Snapple, Nestea & Arizona killed or inactivated certain viruses on contact. Their research showed that black tea can kill human viruses including cold, flu, and herpes simplex 1 and 2.

Kidney Stones
Investigators at China’s Sichuan University found that a compound in green tea binds with calcium oxalate to help prevent and reduce the size of painful kidney stones.

Stress
When you are under stress, your adrenal glands produce a hormone called “Cortisol”. Cortisol increases blood sugar and fat formation especially belly fat which is the most dangerous type of fat. Cortisol also suppresses your immune system. According to a new University College study from London, England, cortisol levels of regular black tea drinkers fell 47% within one hour after completing a stressful task.

Weight Loss
If you want to loose weight, studies have shown that 5 cups of tea a day boosts metabolism by up to 5%, and it’s not the caffeine that’s doing it – it’s the catechins and polyphenols in tea. One study showed that green tea may reduce fat absorption from your diet by as much as 30%. Japan’s University of Tokushima reported that people who drank oolong tea had a fat burning rate that was 12% higher than people who didn’t drink oolong. 

to be continued… in the mean time join us for a cup of your favourite tea!



Health Benefits of Tea

Part 4 0f 6 

Alzheimer’s Disease
Newcastle University in England looked at green and black tea in a series of laboratory experiments. The results showed that both types of tea inhibited the activity of Enzymes associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, tea appears to affect the brain in a similar way as prescription drugs for Alzheimer’s, however, tea doesn’t have the side effects that the drugs do. According to the scientists, black and green tea fight enzymes that destroy chemical messengers in the brain. 

Arthritis
Scientists at Case Western University in Cleveland took two groups of mice and gave them injections of a substance that causes immune reactions similar to those due to rheumatoid arthritis. One group had regular water to drink and the other got water laced with polyphenols, chemicals found in green tea and, to a lessar extent black tea. Nearly all the mice that drank regular water got arthritis-like symptoms, compared to less than half of the treated mice. Green tea and its polyphenols are great for controlling arthritis, it has an antioxidant called EGCG that blocks enzymes from breaking down cartilage.

Bone Strength
Tea flavonoids may be bone builders and fight Osteoporosis. A report in the archives of internal Medicine looked at about 500 chinese men and women who regularly drank black, green, or oolong tea for more than 10 years. Compared with non-habitual tea drinkers, tea regulars had higher bone mineral densities, even after exercise and calcium were taken into account. A British University study found that drinking one cup a day was linked to a 5% higher bone mineral density in senior citizens. A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea drinkers had bones that were 3% thicker than non-tea drinkers

Breath
Coffee can give you bad breath, but polyphenols found in both black and green tea can stop the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath. Black tea also suppresses the growth of bacteria in dental plaque and rinsing with black tea reduces plaque formation and the production of acids that cause tooth decay. Japanese researchers also found that green tea helped patients with gingivitis and more advanced gum disease. 

Cancer
“Tea is one of the single best cancer fighters you can put in your body,” according to Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of medical oncology at the world-renowned Strong Cancer Prevention Center in New York CIty. Studies have shown that both green and black teas kept healthy cells from turning malignant after exposure to cancer-causing compounds. John Hopkins University studies showed that drinking 2 to 3 cups of tea daily reduced the risk of developing urinary tract cancer by 60%, and digestive tract cancer by 32%.

Cholesterol
New research confirms that extracts of black tea can help reduce cholesterol. Researchers at Vanderbilt University tested 240 people with mild to moderately high cholesterol who were on a low-fat diet. Half took a daily black tea extract with polyphenols (equal to 7 cups of tea); the other half took a placebo. After 12 weeks, those on tea cut their LDL by 16%. “Over time that could translate into a 16 to 24% reduction in risk of heart attack and stroke” says Dr. David Maron, MD, cardiologist and lead researcher.

to be continued… in the mean time join us for a cup of your favourite tea!



Health Benefits of Tea

Part 3 0f 6 

Herbals are a whole other ball game and if you do drink a lot of herbal teas, I’d advise getting a handbook about herbal teas or look them up on the internet. Generally herbals are safe and have good health beenfits, but sometimes people can have allergic reactions to certain plants and flowers, so if you have sensitivities, it’s a good idea to read the ingredients in herbal tea blends.

Just to give you an idea: Some examples of popular herbal tea benefits are:

PEPPERMINT TEA is great for soothing an upset stomach and helping digestion. It is also good for killing mouth bacteria and giving you good breath.

GINGER TEA is great for aiding with nausea, motion-sickness, as well as digestion.

DANDELION TEA  is a great diuretic and also detoxifies the liver.

LICORICE TEA  contains valuable iron salts and is a good laxative. It is also said to fight stress and fatigue. It may not be good for people with high blood pressure.

CHAMOMILE TEA is supposed to help with insomnia. The natural mineral phosphates in chamomile tea help calm nervous energy. People also bathe in chamomile tea if they have a sunburn or rinse their hair with it if they are blonde…it’s supposed to give blonde hair a shine.

However, be careful with some of these herbal teas if you have plant allergies…chamomile is a relative of the ragweed plant and if you suffer from allergies, you could have an unpleasant reaction from some herbals.

Okay, real tea… the Camellia Sinensis plant. There are so many benefits, I’m going to list them alphabetically.

AGING – Mice which were fed tea displayed fewer signs of ageing than mice that were fed water.  This ageing experiment was conducted jointly by scientists in America, Taiwan, and Tokushima University in japan. It was testing both green and oolong tea. Groups of mice that were genetically altered to age twice as fast as ordinary mice, were observed over a 16-week period. They were checked for hair loss, age spots, bags under their eyes, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. The mice that were fed tea displayed fewer signs of ageing than mice that were fed water, with oolong tea showing significantly better results than green tea.

to be continued… in the mean time join us for a cup of your favourite tea!



Health Benefits of Tea

Part 2 0f 6 

Tea comes from the leaves of a flowering evergreen plant called Camelia Sinensis. There are four principal types of tea – black, green, white and oolong. All are from the same plant but the leaves are processed differently.

Tea contains enzymes that interact with the oxygen in the air when a leaf is broken or crushed. This reaction is called oxidation or fermentation, and it causes the leaf to darken and increases its caffeine level. Once the leaf is heated and dried the oxidation process stops.

BLACK TEA – is fully oxidized and dried and has a smooth taste. Most of the teas on the market use black tea such as Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, English Breakfast etc. Generally you would add milk or lemon and a sweetener (sugar/honey) to black tea.

GREEN TEA – is unfermented tea. The leaves are quickly dried then heated and rolled, so it is not as processed as black tea. There is a great variety of green teas – some are light and mild tasting while others are grassy and vegetable tasting. You would not add milk to green tea. Green teas generally come from China or Japan.

OOLONG TEA – is a hybrid between black and green tea and is popular in China. The leaves are partly oxidized and some Oolongs are less fermented and more closely resemble green tea; other Oolongs are more fully oxidized and come closer to black tea. Generally you would not drink Oolong with milk or sugar – it has a strong flavour that holds its own.

WHITE TEA – has only recently become widely available and it is possibly the healthiest of all teas because it is the least processed. It’s picked before the leaf buds fully open, then it’s air dried or gently dried by steaming and that’s it. The buds are covered with fine white hair which gives the tea it’s white look. Like green tea, it is not fermented. White tea often has such a gentle flavour that it’s like drinking water. Now it is often blended with vanilla, spices and fruit flavours.

There are other teas on the market called herbal teas. Herbal teas are not made from the tea plant, so they’re really NOT TEA. These are TISANES or infusions of other plants, herbs, flowers, spices, roots and flavourings, for example; Peppermint, Chamomile, Rooibus (ROY-BOSS) or red tea, and different blends

to be continued… in the mean time join us for a cup of your favourite tea!