Tea time

Madison Cramer, Student writer

In the Western world, tea is seen primarily as a cultural part of England; however, studies show that the drink originated in China and eventually became part of the Indian way of life as cultivation of the plant increased on the peninsula. With the spreading of the British Empire across the globe, tea eventually became a staple of British (and, later, world) culture and cuisine. But why did society suddenly begin to crave this warm drink? The world has been constantly studying the history of tea, but what about its scientific and physical properties?

Tea has been found to reduce cancer the risk of cancer and heart disease; it also contributes to weight and cholesterol loss. The drink can serve as a warm, healthy, and mildly energizing alternative to coffee, which contains a greater (sometimes borderline dangerous) amount of caffeine. Hot or steeped teas are the best means of avoiding artificial sweeteners and empty calories often found in bottled teas.

The properties of tea vary greatly based on the sort and color of the drink. Due to the great amount of varieties of the drink, it is difficult to discuss each of them individually; nonetheless, the benefits of the most commonly drunk types of the beverage:

White Tea: “White tea helps keep your skin acne–free. The antioxidants in white and green tea may have an effect on acne, and in some cases have been shown to work as well as a 4% solution of the much more harsh benzoyl peroxide. White tea is widely used in beauty and cosmetic products, with the promise that its high antioxidant content will keep your skin looking young,” as said by the source. The source also says, “White tea can create a calmer but more alert state of mind. Studies have shown that the amino acid L–theanine found in the tea plant alters the attention networks in the brain and can have demonstrable effects on the brain waves. More simply, tea can help you relax and concentrate more fully on tasks. Buddhist monks drank white tea to keep them from falling asleep during meditation.”

Green Tea: “By some accounts, the history of green tea goes back as far as 2737 BC. In the 15th century, Chinese seamen were given green tea to prevent scurvy, which would take the lives of many of their European counterparts more than 100 years later. Every year scientists are finding more and more health benefits in green tea.15 to 20% of dried green tea is made up of catechins. Catechins have very potent antimicrobial actions. Dr. Yukihiko Hara stated in an interview in the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, ‘The anti–flu virus actions of those tea catechins are just phenomenal.’ In addition, catechins have been proven to lower cholesterol and inhibit the increase of blood pressure. In the dental field, green tea has been shown to suppress the process by which cariogenic bacteria create glucan, thus suppressing the formation of plaque on teeth and preventing cavities.”

Black Tea: “Black tea is known to banish fatigue, stimulate mental alertness, and raise energy levels. It has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels and acts as a nerve sedative, frequently relieving headaches,” as said by the source. It also contains a number of vitamins, and help with dementia and aging.

Mint Tea: “Mint aids in digestion, relieves nausea, even reduces flatulence, but there are a few benefits most don’t know about. Peppermint teas can help to alleviate the pain of headaches associated with menstrual cramps. It can also help those with breathing troubles, like asthma. The smell of mint opens blocked breathing passages. It works as a great way to wake up in the morning – even though it is completely caffeine free. Spearmint tea is more mild in flavor and less stimulating.”

Taking into account these incredible properties listed above, teas, in their many varieties, can be very beneficial to one’s health. If a warm drink or a means of relaxation and comfort is ever needed, tea is the way to go.

More information about tea can be found here and here.