Significant sources indicate that tea as a drink is the most consumed beverage worldwide after water. Drinking a cup of tea can help men and women to maintain health as part of a healthy lifestyle. The antioxidant, hydrating properties, alkaloid thein, alkaloid caffeine, and fluoride found in tea suggest that a person need never feel embarrassed about reaching for the teapot. In this article, the facts about tea as related to the name, the history, the types, the preparations, the nutritional values, along with the quotations in favor of tea, and a few notes in regard to the research findings on the healthy benefits of tea will be studied and reviewed.
THE NAME:The tea plant scientifically is named as Camellia sinensis and the leaves from this plant are the sources of all nonherbal teas. The name used for tea in different languages around the world is either derived from Te or Cha used originally in Chinese. The same English term of Tea is used in Hungarian language and the terms used to name tea in some other languages can be listed as follows: Persian, Pashto, Hindi, Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian: Chai/ Italian: Te or The/ French: The/ Scots: Ti/ Irish: Tae/ Swedish, Armenian, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Spanish, Welsh: Te/ German, Finish: Tee/ Dutch: Thee and Arabic: Shay.
THE HISTORY:2700 BC: Chinese Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea.
725 BC: Tea became a part of daily life in China.
805 AD: Dengo Daishi introduced tea plantations in Japan.
1191: After centuries of neglect, the cultivation of tea in Japan was revived by the Buddhist Abbot Yesai, who subsequently published the first Japanese tea book.
1500: The first teapots were made at a place near Shanghai, which is currently the largest city in China in terms of population and it is also famous for its clays.
1610: Tea reached Europe for the first time, carried by the Dutch from a trading station in Bantam, Java. They purchased tea from Chinese merchants, who spoke the Amoy dialect and therefore referred to the product as "Tea".
1657: Garway's Coffee House in London held the first public sale of tea, and became the first London Tea House (LTH). In the same year, LTH started to advertise the "Virtues of the leaf tea".
1680: Marguerite de la Sabliere, aka Madame Sabliere, friend and patron of the famous French poet La Fontaine, introduced the custom of drinking tea with milk to French people.
1773: On 16 December 1773, at the Boston Tea Party, American colonists dumped the entire Boston consignment of the John Company's tea into the harbor in protest of the exorbitant tea tax.
1856: The first tea was planted in the Darjeeling District of Northern India. India was under British rule at the time.
1900: The last camel caravan carrying tea departed Peking (the capital city of China) for Russia. During the same year, the last link of the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed.
1902: In Iran, the first tea plantation was set up in Lahijan, a region in Northern Province of Gilan, by Mirza Mohammad Kashefolsaltaneh (MMK). View an article written by this author about MMK and on the History of Tea Industry in Iran.
THE TYPES & THE PREPARATIONS:Manufacturers process the tea leaves in three different ways to produce the three major classes of teas known as green, black, and oolong. In fact, to achieve a variety of taste profiles, manufacturers carefully control whether, and for a certain period of time, tea leaves are exposed to air, a process called fermentation. When fermentation is completely arrested, the tea stays "green" or yellowish brown. When fermentation time is long, the leaves darken and become "black" tea. Somewhere in between these two extremes, "oolong" tea is created. Tea may be prepared as blended, decaffeinated, brewed, or iced.
THE NUTRITIONAL VALUES:1. Tea is a natural source of fluoride and drinking four cups makes a significant contribution to the daily intake of this element.
2. Tea with milk provides 21 per cent of daily calcium requirement in 4 cups.
3. Tea without milk has no calories. Using semi-skimmed milk adds around 13 calories per cup, but a person also benefits from valuable minerals and calcium.
4. Tea with milk contains Vitamin B6, Riboflavin B2 and Thiamin B1.
5. Tea is a source of the minerals Manganese (Mn), and Potassium (K). Mn is essential for bone growth and body development, and K is vital for maintaining body fluid levels.
6. Tea contains some mineral Zinc (Zn) and Folic Acid (a vitamin B).
7. The average cup of tea contains less than half the level of caffeine than coffee. One cup contains only 50 mg per 190 ml cup.
8. Tea is known to be a good source of the flavonoids, aka bioflavonoids, which are polyphenol antioxidants. Researchers from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted that flavonoid concentrations differ in tea beverages, depending on the various sorts of preparation used. Milk proteins, for example, when added to tea, possibly bind to flavonoids, and therefore reduce the tea flavonoid concentrations.
THE QUOTATIONS IN FAVOR OF TEA:"Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world": Chinese Philosopher and Tea Enthusiast T'ien Yiheng.
"There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea": American Philosopher and Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).
"Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage": Author and Writer Catherine Douzel.
"Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary": Chinese Proverb.
"Oolong tea is effective in controlling body weight": An Ancient Chinese Belief.
"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea": Philosopher Bernard-Paul Heroux.
"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you": British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898).
"Not for all the tea in China": A phrase originated in early 20th century. It means that we would not do something even if we were offered a fortune; it is an expression to indicate "Not at any price".
"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea"! British Writer Sydney Smith (1771-1845).
"A good woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water": The First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945 Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962).
"Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things": American Author Chaim Potok (1929-2002).
"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life": Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Nat Hahn (born 1926).
THE RESEARCH FINDINGS ON THE HEALTHY BENFITS OF TEA:1. Research works have revealed that tea drinking may be associated with cell-mediated immune function of the human body.
2. Tea plays an important role in improving beneficial intestinal micro-flora, as well as providing immunity against intestinal disorders and in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage.
3. Tea prevents dental caries due to the presence of fluoride.
4. The role of tea has been well established in normalizing blood pressure.
5. Tea possesses germicidal and germ-static activities against various gram-positive and gram-negative human pathogenic bacteria.
6. Tea helps the iron absorption.
7. Tea raises metabolic rates and increases fat oxidation rates, which are two factors that are predictive of weight loss.
8. Drinking black tea along with following a prudent diet moderately low in fat, cholesterol, and saturated fatty acids, reduces total and LDL cholesterol by significant amounts and may, therefore, reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD).
9. In Experimental Nutrition, it was found that regularly brewed tea, when added to the fat cells of laboratory rats, could increase insulin activity by more than 15 times. Conformational studies in humans are however required before the beneficial role of tea in enhancing insulin activity can be applied to people.
10. Nearly 95 percent of tea's polyphenol compounds are flavonoids (like Catechins in green tea and Thearubigins and Theaflavins in black tea). Some polyphenols have recently been determined, in test tube studies, to be more potent antioxidants than the well-known vitamins A, C, and E. And again, the results from those studies cannot be applied to humans.
11. Researchers from Japan suggest that the antioxidants in green tea may be responsible for the protective effects of green tea against gum disease.
12. On 4 May 2009, the University of Copenhagen (UC) in Denmark reported online that, 'Researchers at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UC, are attempting, with the help of a special African tea, to develop a new treatment for type-2 diabetics. The tea is used as a treatment in traditional Nigerian medicine and is produced from the extract of Rauvolfia vomitoria leaves and the fruit of Citrus aurantium. The scientists have recently tested the tea on patients with type-2 diabetes and the results are promising".
EPILOGUE:Catherine Douzel (See above) was not probably the only one who was quoted as "Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage". The late Iranian poet Kazem Pezeshki Shirazi, also used to repeatedly read these two lines of his poem that, "Have some tea and cake with your own true friends and dear pals. Imagine then you are in India where you can watch an elephant, the largest of all animals" (in Persian: Chai-o Shirini Beh Khor Baa Doostaan. Yaad Kon as Feel Dar Hindustan)!
It should be also noted that long before the cultivation of tea in Iran in 1902, the coffee was popular in Iran and there were many Coffee Houses (in Persian: Ghahveh Khaaneh) in the cities and along the roads connecting different places in the country. As tea was produced and marketed in Iran, brewed tea replaced coffee in most of those houses. But the old name of the house or Ghahveh Khaaneh remained the same.
Well, may be it is time now to put the kettle on for tea and wait for its familiar whistle!
Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD
Kushiyama, M., Shimazaki, Y., Murakami, M., and Y. Yamashita (2009): Relationship between Intake of Green Tea and Periodontal Disease, Journal of Periodontology Vol. 80, No. 3, Pages 372-377.
Quote Garden Website (2009): Online Quotations about Tea.
Saadat Noury, M. (2009): Online Articles on Science.
Saadat Noury, M. (2009): Online Article on First Iranian who Set Up the First Tea Plantations in Iran.
Saadat Noury, M. (1982): Principles of Human Nutrition in Health and Disease (in Persian), ed., Tehran, Iran.
Saadat Noury, M. (1976): Principles of Experimental Nutrition, ed., (in Persian), Tehran University Publications, Tehran, Iran.
Saadat Noury, M. (2009): Various Notes and Articles on Iranian Poets and Persian Poetry.
Tea Land Website (2009): Online Note on Tea History.
UC Website (2009): Online News on Tea for the Treatment of Type-2 Diabetes.
USDA Website (2009): Online Article on "Brewing Up the Latest Tea Research".
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2009): Online Article on Tea.
View the Moments in the Nutritional Department on the MISSING MOMENTS
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