Wouldn’t you love a magical elixir? A miracle formula to make you healthier, smarter, slimmer and younger? Something that would fight stress while alleviating depression? Something that would energize you and relax you- at the same time? You’re in luck. Turns out such jewel of a tonic is not otherworldly at all. In fact, it has been around for thousands of years.
The magic of tea was discovered about 5000 years ago in China. The ancient Chinese teahouse radiated an atmosphere conducive to creativity and collaboration. Tea was for self-cultivation, for unifying the body and mind and for developing deep spiritual insight. Associated with the philosophies of Taoism, Buddhism, Zen and Confucianism, tea was closely intertwined with the culture, with the spirit and soul and with physical healing.
Traditionally symbolic of status, education, morality, and principles, tea making and consumption has evolved over the millennia from a philosophy to an art. Tea is the national drink of China and for good reason. With it’s origins in ancient Chinese medicine, tea is still considered highly therapeutic and science backs the claim.
Made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, tea is not to be confused with herbal or spiced infusions. Nevertheless, tea is often combined with herbs or spices to make herbal teas such as chamomile or ginger. However, true tea naturally results in many flavors and varieties. Differences in color and taste arise from varying tea growing, harvesting and processing methods. But, don’t let the many varieties confuse you. Whether Black, Green, White or Oolong- as you will see, tea is very good for you.
Tea improves cognition. Tea is a natural source of caffeine which of course is known for promoting energy, concentration and attention. Per cup, White tea contains about 15 mg of caffeine, Green tea about 25 mg, Oolong around 30 mg and Black tea about 40 mg. Unlike coffee, which increases beta brainwave activity, tea elevates alpha activity in the brain, meaning that tea provides a relaxing energy boost. For this reason, tea is less likely than coffee to keep one awake at night.
Additionally, tea contains powerful flavonoids. These antioxidants enhance energy and focus, improve short-term memory and can encourage the production of new brain cells. Also, tea has been shown effective in reducing neurodegeneration, minimizing the risks of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and possibly even schizophrenia.
Tea alleviates anxiety and depression. Tea is the only natural source of an amino acid called theanine. Theanine lessens both physical and mental stress by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, and dopamine. Theanine also boosts alpha brainwaves- enhancing mental clarity, promoting relaxation and aiding in healthy sleep.
Tea can aid in weight loss. A naturally calorie-free source of caffeine and catechins, Green tea has been considered effective in raising rate of metabolism, which of course results in burning extra calories. Also, antioxidants found in both Green and Oolong teas decrease dietary fat found in fat cells (triglycerides).
Tea helps protect against cancer, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. All types of teas are high in antioxidants called polyphenols, shown effective in protecting cells against DNA damage linked to cancer and other diseases. The catechins found in Green tea have been determined beneficial in fighting both cancer and heart disease. Research also shows White tea effective in minimizing the risks of both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Also, theaflavins and thearubigins found in Black tea have proven useful in lowing cholesterols levels.
Tea offers a variety of other health benefits. Green tea could help boost the immune system. Tea is also being looked at as a source of protection against osteoporosis. Tea may even guard against cavities and tooth loss.
Health benefits are just part of the allure.
Tea consumption is about much more than mere sustenance. It’s about building harmonious relationships, savoring a break from a hectic world and delighting in all things good that this earth has to offer. From the tranquil tearooms of lush Japan to the shaded front porches of sultry Louisiana, serving and sipping tea is a custom that has endured the test of time.
Citrus, floral, woodsy… classy and quirky… both modern and traditional. Tea offers gourmet sophistication paired with an honest and quaint charm. Tea is so simple yet so diverse and so incredibly good for you. Take time from each busy day to appreciate it’s Zen-inspired relaxing pep!