Tea Mail – August 2004
The Big Health News in July
The biggest health news in July (and to be honest, the only new health story this month) was the publication of a long-running blood pressure study in Taiwan . Researchers followed around 1500 adults over eight years and the results show that people who drank 120-599 milliliters of green or oolong tea a day for a year had a 46% decreased risk of developing hypertension, compared to those who did not drink tea regularly. People who consumed more than 600 milliliters a day saw even better results, reducing their risk by 65%. The findings held true even after researchers adjusted the data to take other factors into account, such as body mass index, cigarette smoking, and family history of the condition.
Elsewhere, the ABQ Journal talked to tea connoisseur Frank Murphy, who relayed the good news we already know, that all teas are beneficial to health . And on a quiet news day down under, news.com.au gave Australians advice on slimming, including the thermogenic properties of green tea .
A new study out of Taiwan suggests drinking tea may keep your blood pressure under control.
Researchers discovered people who drank between 120 milliliters and 599 milliliters of green or oolong tea a day for a year had a 46-percent decreased risk of developing hypertension than those who did not drink tea regularly. People who consumed more than 600 milliliters a day saw even better results. They reduced their risk of getting high blood pressure by 65 percent. The findings held true even after researchers adjusted the data to take other factors that could have led to high blood pressure into account, such as body mass index, cigarette smoking, and family history of the condition.
The study, which appears in this monthâ€™s Archives of Internal Medicine, was conducted with around 1,500 adults ages 20 or older who were free of high blood pressure when the study began in 1996. Six hundred of the participants were regular tea drinkers.
The investigators offer a couple of possible explanations as to how tea affects blood pressure. First, they point out tea contains theanine, a substance found to significantly reduce blood pressure in hypertensive rats. Second, they note tea also contains polyphenols, which are known to reduce oxidative stress and have beneficial effects on the vascular system.
Given the high number of people around the world who regularly drink tea — the beverage is second only to water in annual consumption — the researchers believe the findings in their study could have a significant public health benefit.
We all know that green tea is full of health-promoting antioxidants, but did you know that it also boosts your metabolic rate? A Swiss study found that green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation. Thermogenesis is the number of kilojoules the body burns while eating.
It also contains no stimulants, so instead of reaching for a strong black before bed, go green.
Tea connoisseur Frank Murphy says all teasâ€” white, yellow, oolong, green, black (which the Chinese call red) and Pu-erhâ€” have antioxidants. “They’re all detoxifers, all cholesterol-lowering, and they’re all digestive aids,” he explains.
But white tea is purported to have even more antioxidants than green tea. “The less a tea is manipulated by man, the more potent its healthful benefits and curative properties,” says Murphy.
White tea is the most natural form of tea, he says, as it’s picked and then sun-dried. “Green tea is picked, brought to the factory and thrown into a wok and pan-fried,” says Murphy, “to arrest the oxidation process to seal in the juices.”
Oolong teas are known more for being “fat-cutters,” as a dietary aid. “Pu-erhs are known specifically for their fat-cutting, cholesterol-lowering aspects and heavy digestive qualities,” he says.
It’s 100 years for iced tea, too
June is National Iced Tea Month, and this year, it’s turning 100. Back in 1904 at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, a plantation owner – steaming hot himself – poured the brewed beverage over some ice, creating a refreshing potable that would soon become a phenomenon.
Usually when we’re talking tea, China or England immediately come to mind. But in Europe’s early days, around 1635, Holland’s people were the first lips pursed before a steaming cup of tea. England was actually the last place on Earth to adopt the drink.
Whodathunk that the refreshing thirst quencher would rise to such ranks. More than 37 billion glasses of iced tea are consumed every year in the United States. Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world. (Water is the first.)
Besides being good, it’s good for you. Yes, that sounds cliched, but:
â€¢ Research has proved drinking tea has cardiovascular benefits.
â€¢ It’s said that tea can reduce certain cancer risks.
â€¢ Scientists believe tea helps build strong bones – just like milk – plus, it is an oral-health benefit. Studies show that certain compounds in tea may inhibit bacteria that cause bad breath, and its fluoride content supports healthy tooth enamel.
â€¢ L-theanine, an element in black tea, may aid in the resistance to infections or tumors.
â€¢ Green and black tea both have flavonoids – a certain type of antioxidant also found in grapes, onions, citrus and soy.
Plus, tea is calorie-free, fat-free, and sodium free – and has more antioxidants in an 8-ounce serving than some fruits and vegetables. Tea flavors extend beyond the traditional orange pekoe. Consumers can select from black tea, green tea, red, white and herbal teas, with fruit and spice blends. Their antioxidant qualities vary depending on the “color” of tea, but all, except herbal teas, have polyphenols – antioxidants.
Pass the tea; hold the cola
Soft drinks may increase cancer risk, while green tea is protective
Dr. Mohandas Mallath, head of the digestive diseases department at Tata Memorial Hospital in India, says the incidence of esophageal cancer has been rising in Western countries along with an increase in soft drink consumption.
He and his colleagues used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to look at dietary changes over the past 50 years and found that per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the U.S. rose by more than 450 per cent. During roughly the same time period, the incidence of esophageal cancer shot up more than 570 per cent among white males and continues to increase. In contrast, countries with a low consumption of soft drinks — such as Japan, China and India — have had little increase in the incidence of esophageal cancer.
Mallath says soft drinks trigger acid “reflux” from the stomach that damages the esophagus over time. The damage can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, a change in the lining of the esophagus that can increase the risk of cancer.
Meanwhile, researchers at Harvard University in Boston say a chemical in green tea can block the growth of cancers associated with Barrett’s esophagus. “Our results suggest that extracts in green tea may help to lower the prevalence of esophageal (cancer). I think the results are pretty exciting,” says Dr. Howard Chang, the lead investigator. “Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in Western countries, and unfortunately our treatment options are pretty limited and long-term outcomes are very poor.”
The researchers studied the green tea chemical in cancer cells in the laboratory, but Chang says two cups per day of green tea may achieve similar effects, depending on the concentration of the tea.
White Tea Has It
A healthy infusion is good for what ails you inside and out
It’s gaining traction in the tearoom as a result. â€œIt’s pretty rare, but it’s becoming more available because it’s getting more awareness,â€ said Joe Simrany, president of the Tea Council of the U.S.A., a New York-based organization that speaks for the industry.
A couple of weeks ago, a microbiologist from Pace University in New York shared results of a study that demonstrated that white tea was more effective than green tea in killing bacteria and viruses grown in a lab dish.
â€œPast studies have shown that green tea stimulates the immune system to fight disease,â€ said Milton Schiffenbauer, a professor of biology at Pace University and the study’s lead investigator.
â€œOur research shows that white tea extract can destroy in vitro the organisms that cause disease. Study after study with tea extract proves that it has many healing properties. This is not an old wives’ tale. It’s a fact.â€
This isn’t the first time white tea has performed under scrutiny. Last year, researchers from the University Hospitals of Cleveland tested a cream containing white tea extract on the skin of a group of subjects to see how it might affect the immune functioning of skin cells. That would have important ramifications for cancer and other damage from sun exposure.
They found that skin cells, normally easily damaged by sunshine, were not affected by the sun, provided they were covered by the white tea extract. When applied to skin after it had been exposed to the sun, the tea-containing cream restored the cells’ immunity.
Although white tea now is harvested in Sri Lanka, India and China, its roots run deep in a single Chinese province, according to Simrany of the tea council. White tea is harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant, the same source of black and green and oolong teas.
The critical difference is that black and green teas are processed from the two or three top leaves on each branch, while white tea is made from a tiny unfurled bud at the tip of the leaf. They can be gathered for only about three weeks a year, he said. Because they are so tiny, and because it takes so much longer to gather a pound of them, white tea costs a bit more.
All teas from the Camellia sinensis plant are proving to have health benefits because of their high concentrations of flavonoids, a family of powerful antioxidants. It’s thought that the baby buds that make white tea have an even higher concentration of the compounds.
Finally, our fully secure on-line shopping cart is live and accepting credit cards!
It’s taken a lot longer than we had planned, but we are now taking your orders on-line through our certified, encrypted, fully secure on-line shopping cart. As you will see, the store front has been completely reorganized, and many new varieties have been added. We accept all major credit cards, as well as still accepting payments via PayPal. Shipping is still with UPS, but can now be tracked through our tracking facility.
Latest additions take our inventory to 53 different fine Chinese teas
Our puer cake selection has been increased to 13, including several more round cakes, new square and oblong bricks, and Mini Tuo Cha – tiny and fun, but made from seriously good tea! We’ve also introduced our first Tea Sampler – six 10g sample packs of different teas, presented in a beautiful Chinese tea caddy. This is a great way to try out new varieties without having to make a major commitment, and they also make the perfect gift for avid tea-drinkers.
Take a leisurely stroll around our on-line store.
Legendary 1st generation WuYi Mtn Rock Oolongs won’t be around for long!
We’ve kept the build up to the arrival of these teas deliberately low key (just in case something happened on the way!) but now they are here and we can hardly believe it: we have very limited quantities of four of the rarest, finest, most sought-after teas in the world – first generation Legendary WuYi Rock Oolongs.
‘First generation’ refers to the origin of the bushes that produce the teas – direct cuttings from the famous, revered tea bushes in question. For example, our Da Hong Pao, also known as Big Red Robe, comes from the first generation of the four original bushes, which are still celebrated every year in a ceremony that involves a huge banquet, Daoist priests and government officials in ancient dress. The original bushes have produced only about a pound of tea a year since records began in 1839 – the first generation, of which we have a small quantity for our on-line customers, produces around 1000 kilos. It is offered strictly on a first come, first served basis.
Even rarer, we have secured a small amount of the renowned Bai Ji Guan (White Rooster Crest) WuYi Rock Oolong. Just 100 kilos of this first generation tea is produced a year, so don’t hesitate if you want to make the most of the unique opportunity to try this or our other legendary rock oolongs – Shui Jin Gui (Golden Water Turtle) and Tie Luo Han (Iron Buddha).
Our Tea House in Tucson gets more and more local press
Our tea house in Tucson, Arizona is getting busier every day, especially with the amount of local press we’ve had recently. We are going to be featured in Arizona Gourmet magazine next month. Last week the tea house appeared in the Arizona Daily Star’s Caliente supplement, and on their website – click here for the full article (which was accompanied by the image below.)
There was an excellent piece in the Tucson Citizen as well, right at the end of the month. See the full article here – more details next month.
We now offer Chinese cultural and tea classes, hosted by our resident Tea Master, Zhu Ping. There are six classes in all, and each will deal with the history and health benefits of a different type of tea (green tea, black tea, etc), plus how it is traditionally presented in China, from the ceremony to the style of tea wares used. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunity to taste the teas and try your hand at steeping and presenting. Spaces are limited. For more details, contact Austin at (520) 881-4072.
More opinion on Michael Barbee’s book
In our May newsletter we mentioned a book called “Politically Incorrect Nutrition: Finding Reality in the Mire of Food Industry Propagandaâ€ by Michael Barbee. In our newsletter we try to supply tea news and research related to tea that is released during the month, and Mr. Barbeeâ€™s book came up in our review. At the time we knew very little about Mr. Barbee and his opinions. We say ‘opinions’ because, according to a number of our readers, his research is questionable. We have not read his book, and we certainly donâ€™t endorse it. Our history as a company has been centered around organics, and we certainly take issue with his assertion that green tea is not safe! There is no credible research to indicate this is even remotely true. We will continue to report the news, and we are always looking for books relating to tea, but because we report it, it doesn’t mean that we endorse it!