Tea Mail – April 2004
The Big Health News in March
There were more media reports concerning tea’s benefits for promoting weight loss and aiding sleep, but the most important findings of the month related to green tea and cancer. A study by researchers at Kyushu University in Japan, published in the April issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, identified a potential target for the antitumor action of EGCG, green tea’s powerful antioxidant, on human lung cancer cells that inhibited the cancer cells’ growth. The concentration of the antioxidant required to produce these anticancer effects was equivalent to those found in the body after drinking only two to three cups of green tea.
In the US, Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered that the ECGC in green tea also helps kill cells of CLL, the most common leukemia in the United States, by interrupting the communication signals they need to survive. This prompted leukemia cells to die in eight of 10 patient samples. The findings are reported in the journal Blood.
Green Tea Component Helps Kill Leukemia Cells
The leukemia cells studied were from patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) — most often diagnosed in patients in their mid-to-late 60s. Currently, there is no cure for CLL, though chemotherapy is administered in the most severe cases. The Mayo Clinic study, led by Neil E. Kay, M.D., shows that green tea’s EGCG interrupted survival signals, prompting leukemia cells to die in eight of 10 patient samples tested in the laboratory.
About the Leukemia called CLL
Significance of the Mayo Clinic Finding
Why Green Tea?
The Mayo Clinic research suggests EGCG works by inhibiting a pathway in the leukemia cells related to angiogenesis — the complex process that maintains nourishing blood flow to a biological structure, in this case a cancer cell.
More Reasons Brewing for Drinking Green Tea
Research at Rutgers University has confirmed that green tea has six times the antioxidant capability of fully fermented black teas, which seems to support what Eastern healers have known for centuries; green tea has extraordinary healing properties. Scientists around the world agree that drinking several cups of green tea each day can have a profound effect on your health.
“Our data suggests that a component of tea other than caffeine might have promoted preferential use of fat as an energy source,” says Beverly Clevidence, a coauthor of the study and head of the Diet and Human Performance Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Maryland. “The interesting part of our study, which agreed with findings from a similar study in England, was that when you drink tea you turn on the fat-burning spigot a little bit more than when you drink caffeinated water,” says Physiologist William Rumpler, also of the DHPL.
Antioxidant Slows Tumor Growth
In the study, published in the April issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, researchers identified a potential target for the antitumor action of EGCG on human lung cancer cells that inhibited the cancer cells’ growth. By learning more about this target, researchers may be able to develop new treatments that maximize green tea’s cancer-fighting potential.
Explaining Green Tea’s Anticancer Benefits
Researchers say the concentration of the antioxidant required to produce these anticancer effects was equivalent to those found in the body after drinking only two to three cups of green tea. Researchers say the results further the understanding of how antioxidants interact with cancer cells and may one day lead to more effective cancer therapies that use green tea as a dietary cancer treatment.
Black tea may lower heart disease risks
Antioxidants called flavonoids, found in both green and black teas, are thought to be potent weapons in the fight against heart disease. “Tea, the most widely consumed beverage in the world, is a rich source of (these) antioxidants,” explain researchers led by Dr. Iman A. Hakim of the University of Arizona in Tucson. They published their findings in the January issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.
Numerous studies have trumpeted the cardiovascular benefits of green tea, which is the beverage of choice in much of the Far East. But elsewhere in the world black tea reigns supreme, and fewer studies have examined its heart-healthy properties.
The researchers interviewed 3,430 Saudis ranging in age from 30 to 70. Study participants were quizzed on their dietary habits, history of smoking, coffee drinking, exercise and other factors. Just over 6% were diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Tea-drinking is a very social event in Saudi Arabia, and about 90% of those interviewed drank the beverage daily. Comparing heavy drinkers to non-drinkers, the researchers found that those who consumed more than 6 cups of tea per day (about 20% of those interviewed) had a 50% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not drink tea. In general, individuals with heart disease tended to drink less tea than healthier individuals–3.5 cups/day versus 4.5 cups/days, respectively.
How might tea drinking boost heart health? Studies have suggested that flavonoids in tea may lower blood pressure and reduce stroke risk by about 12% for those drinking 3 cups of tea per day. Flavonoids may also lower clotting risks and “hardening of the arteries,” and reduce levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol, the researchers suggest.
Whatever the reason, tea for two–or more–may be just the ticket for healthy tickers, the researchers conclude. “These findings support a potential protective effect of tea consumption in relation to coronary heart disease,” they say.
Tea’s Health Benefits
What can tea do for you?
Heart Disease – Several studies have found tea to be heart healthy. Tea is a rich source of dietary flavonoids, which have been shown to have a protective effect against heart disease. A Dutch study published in an April 2002 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that tea drinkers had a substantially lower risk of heart attacks than nondrinkers.
Heavy tea drinking could also reduce the risk of dying after a heart attack, according to a study published in a May 2002 issue of the journal Circulation. “The greatest benefits of tea consumption have been found among patients who already have cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, the study’s lead author.
Another study found that the average cup of tea brewed for two minutes contains about 172 milligrams of flavonoids. Drinking one cup could be expected to cause an immediate positive effect and about 3.5 cups could possibly produce a continuing effect.
Cancer – Could tea really act as a cancer-prevention measure? Tea drinkers in a study conducted in Shanghai, China, were about half as likely to develop cancer of the stomach or esophagus as non-tea drinkers. The results of the study were presented to an April 2002 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The researchers found that people in which certain chemicals, called polyphenols, were present had a lower risk of gastric and esophageal cancer.
Green tea contains the most helpful polyphenols, followed by oolong and black teas. Read more about the study. An Oregon scientist found that white tea, too, may help prevent cancer. “He found that the white tea he gave to mice, it prevented formation of cancerous polyps. The other interesting thing about white tea is that it has the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea beverage in the world,” said tea expert Kyle Stewart.
Dental Health – Surveys have found that people who drink tea may have fewer cavities than those who don’t. This is attributed to the high levels of fluoride in tea plants. Also, components of tea such as catechins, caffeine and tocopherol have been shown to be effective in increasing the acid resistance of tooth enamel. And flavonoids — mainly catechins — have been shown to inhibit bacterial growth on teeth.
Stroke – The flavonoids in tea may also protect against stroke. A 1996 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that men aged 50-69 who drank 4-5 cups of tea a day had a 69 percent reduced risk of stroke.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – According to a study published in the January 2002 issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, women who drank three or more cups of tea each day were less likely to develop arthritis than those who didn’t drink tea. The study didn’t indicate what kind of tea.
Weight Loss – Green tea may be able to help dieters. In November 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, in which researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo.
For a Health Boost from Tea, Experts And Studies Say Drink Up
“People should drink tea all day long. It’s now 2:10 p.m. and I’m on my fourth mug,” Weisburger said. Black tea is Weisburger’s usual choice, but he said both green and black tea have been shown to discourage the formation of cell mutations that can lead to certain cancers.
There is no single, widespread recommendation on amounts of tea to drink for possible health advantage. In assorted studies, various amounts have appeared to have an effect. For example, in one study, cholesterol levels improved in people who drank five cups of black tea a day for three weeks. In another study, heart disease was significantly lower in people who drank three cups a day than in those who drank none.
Studies continue and there is not yet a final word on tea regarding its potential health benefits or how much of it to drink. But research, joined by tea’s status as the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water, indicates it is safe to drink in substantial quantities.
Congratulations to Zhu Ping and Austin on the birth of Julian Alexander!On the 26th March (a couple of weeks late, and the day before our big Take Me 2 Tea Expo appearance!) our President, Austin, and his wife Zhu Ping (our resident tea master) announced the safe arrival of Julian Alexander, weighing in at a healthy 8lbs 11oz. Baby Julian and his mom are doing fine, and are pictured below with pop and granny. Congratulations all!
What’s next? Exclusive teas from the original tea farm in China!
Thanks to our unique personal relationships with some of the most respected and knowledgeable tea growers in China, we have been able to sign exclusive deals for teas from the world’s most famous tea farms. So far we have teas from the farm that originally produced white tea, which is also the home of the oldest white tea bush, and the legendary Lapsang farm, the home of the original smoky Lapsang Souchong, plus a selection of the finest black teas and WuYi Mountain oolongs.
Our latest deal is perhaps even more exciting! We are now the proud exclusive importers of the first ever Meng Ding Mountain teas to reach North America. Meng Ding, in Szechwan Province, was the first place that tea was ever cultivated 2000 years ago – the original tea farm! Prior to that, wild tea trees were harvested (which usually resulted in the tall, spindly wild trees being felled to gain access to the leaves). Those visiting the tea expo in Las Vegas (see below) had a sneak preview of our new Meng Ding teas, all of which were harvested only three weeks previously – the samples were flown over especially for the show. The Sweet Dew, Green Bamboo and amazing, rare Yellow Buds varieties went down extremely well with the most critical tea experts at the show, and for many people they were simply the best teas they’d ever tasted. We’re expecting the first delivery for general sale in the next few weeks. Check the tea selection pages to see if they’re ready…
Take Me 2 Tea Expo in Las Vegas a great success
The arrival of baby Julian nearly put paid to the Green Dragon Enterprises appearance at the Take Me 2 Tea Expo at the Hilton in Las Vegas, but Zhu Ping persuaded Austin to leave his new son, ‘keep a clear mind’ and lead the team at the show. So a big hello and thank you to all those who visited our booth. We really enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many knowledgeable, like-minded tea enthusiasts. It was apparent that there is now a real interest being generated in tea, and in particular the type of high quality, loose-leaf teas that are represented by the Seven Cups range. It was particularly gratifying for us that, after tasting several varieties, so many of the people we really respect in the tea industry commented that we had the best tea at the show. How great! We’ll be in touch with all of our new friends that requested more information about our wholesale products as soon as possible.
The Seven Cups Tea House is nearing completion
March was a crazy month here at Seven Cups, and the slightly late arrival of little Julian Alexander meant that the opening of our first tea house in our home town of Tucson, Arizona will now be in April or May. Everything about the tea house will be authentically Chinese, from the best tea available anywhere in the world, prepared by genuine experts and tea-lovers, to the exquisite Chinese furniture, fixtures and fittings.
We’ll bring you news of our imminent opening here in the newsletter, and for those interested in visiting the tea house, it’s just a few minutes from downtown Tucson and the University district, opposite the Rincon Market on East 6th Street. We look forward to seeing you there! Austin says the Seven Cups tea house will be only the second authentic Chinese tea house in the entire US…