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Health The Tea Way
TEA – TIME TALES
At the Tearoom of the Ritz in London’s upper class Mayfair, the watercress sandwiches must be water thin. Not because thickness has anything to do with improving gastronomic satisfaction levels but because it enhances the taste of Darjeeling’s finest – the outstanding orange pekoe. The service needless to say, is the best Wedge-wood can offer. Cut to a typical Sunday morning in steamy Kolkata. An overcrowded sidewalk café dishing out double-half cha to a motley group, busy in saving the universe. The – that wonder drink – has its own connectivity syndrome. The world of tea is seamless. It blends the booming canons in an 18th century Boston harbour with the quiet and elaborate ritual of an afternoon in Japan with effortless ease. It also has a resilience seldom talked about. In 1992, the redoubtable Coca-Cola came calling on the Indian shores. Pepsi Co had already found a toehold in the beverage market. With Coke’s calling card in place, the marketing experts were busy forecasting a shift in beverage habits of the common man. After all, the entire tea industry in the country was only a fragment of revenues earned by Coke and PepsiCo. The ad budget of Coca-Cola in India was more than the turnover of most medium tea companies. However, 10 years down the line, tea continues to be the beverage of the nation and per capita consumption of carbonated drinks continues to languish at three bottles per year. The new millennium has brought a new threat: coffee. With the Yankees firmly in command over the world, coffee is ready to rule the waves. Tea needs a new makeover. But let’s start the tea tale at the beginning.
Tea is a Ritual Enjoyed for nearly 5,000 years. The origin of tea is attributed to many a legend but one, which has stood the test of time, is that tea originated in China. There is a story of a saint who, while meditating, fell asleep. On waking he decided to punish himself by cutting off his eyelids. The place where his eyelids fell to the earth a strange plant grew. The leaves of this plant if brewed could banish sleep. These leaves were later to be identified as tea. According to available sources the first Book of Tea was written by Lu Yu in 780 A.D. and the green, black and Oolong teas made their first appearance under the Ming Dynasty circa 14th century. The Chinese were sole suppliers of tea to the world till the Japanese broke their stranglehold in the 9th century and the first business rivalry was kicked off. Teatime for India and indeed the rest of the western world began with the advent of the British. R.S. Jhawar, chairman of The Indian Tea Association, in his exhaustive treatise Tea-the Universal Health Drink traces the growth of Darjeeling tea as follows: “The seeds of Darjeeling tea – of ten called the champagne of teas – were planted in 1841. But commercial production began only in 1852.” The second half of the 19th century saw a massive expansion in tea cultivation in India. And, the industry has never looked back. India today is the dominant force in the global tea market and produces more than 31 per cent of the world’s total tea output.
BUSINESS @ SPEED OF THOUGHT may be the order of the day but with it comes the stress of forever keeping the body going. Diets are the first casualty and the clock takes its toll. Tea should be drunk because it’s healthy. As simple as that. Antioxidants or free radical scavengers from five or six cups of tea a day will go a long way in keeping your cholesterol level down, lessen chances of a heart or cancer attack. It’s good for your eyes, teeth and plenty else. In the earliest treatise on tea called Cha Chung Chinese scholar Lu Yu says, “When feeling hot, thirsty, depressed, suffering from headache, eye ache, fatigue of the four limbs or pains in the joints, one should only drink four or five times a day. Tea tempers the spirit, harmonises the mind, dispels lassitude, relieves fatigue, awakens thought, prevents drowsiness and refreshes the body and mind.” The pre-Confucian scholars were united in extolling the virtues of tea as a health drink over wine and water.
THE BEAUTY FACTOR
FOR THE BEAUTY CONSCIOUS, tea helps reduce skin damage and certainly unlike coffee, which has considerably high caffeine content Tea does not lead to stress. In fact it is a stress reliever. And, it is a known fact the major brands like Tropical Paradise, Michael Jordan cologne, Elizabeth Arden and Calvin Klein’s CK-One use tea infused fragrances.
THE PROPAH CUPPA
HERE’S THE SET OF GOLDEN RULES for the golden brew: Different type of tea needs different water temperatures and different infusion times. Use only good quality tea. One small teaspoon of tea per person is a rough guide, though more or less can be added to suit personal taste. Use only fresh boiled water to pour over the tealeaves and infuse for about three minutes. Add milk or sugar to taste. One wood of advice, the crockery should be good to give a touch of class.
WHAT YOU MISS OUT ON IF YOU ARE NOT A TEA FAN
Tea has a lot going for it
and if you are not a convert, it’s time you become one. “Tea is a healthy
drink with a lot of style about it. It can well set the pace for the day
and unlike carbonated drinks does not leave a damaging impact on your
body,” says Naba Kumar Das, chairman of the Tea Board. “The pity is over
the years the youngsters in the family have been told that tea is not
good for them. Now research shows findings quite to the contrary. The
industry’s aim is to make the younger generation aware of the fun potential
of tea and break the staid and old fuddy dubby image of the beverage,”
he says. One of the great aspects of tea is the rituals and stories associated
with it. For instance tea is a perfect drink for all hours. It’s light
and refreshing and there is an element of style in the service of it.
The whole process adds to the grace of the occasion.
Among the 3,000 different types of teas, some are:
Black Tea: Preferred in India, Pakistan, US, Russia and UK, these teas include the Assam, Darjeeling, Sri Lankan and Kenyan varieties. Fresh leaves are allowed to wither and darken to take a characteristic blackish-brown colour.
Green Tea: Consumed in Japan and China, tealeaves are lightly dried to produce these teas, which should be taken without adding milk or sugar.
Oolong Tea: China consumes oolong tea, which has partially withered and oxidized dry leaves.
Flavoured Tea: Since tealeaves readily absorb flavours, it is possible to infuse it with flavours of rose, jasmine and orange.
Tisanes: These so-called herbal teas are strictly not teas at all since they do not have any tealeaves. They are more accurately infusions of water and herbs.
Unilever has always invested in research and their findings provide a clear idea of the healthy nature of tea. Tea has come a long way from being a refreshing and reviving drink to a health beverage. There is a growing interest in the health benefits of tea due to the bioavailability of its flavonoids (Tea antioxidants). It has been found that the human body rapidly absorbs tea antioxidants and that the addition of milk and lemon does not impair the bioavailability. Antioxidants or free radical scavengers have been shown to provide protection against certain types of cancer, heart disease and cataract. One major new study conducted in the US has found that drinking tea is associated with lower risk of heart attack. Men and women who drank one or more cups of tea daily had a 44 per cent reduction in risk of heart attack compared to those who did not drink tea. Studies have also indicated that tea flavonoids possess anticarcinogenic properties. The bulk of evidence available on this research till date is from studies conducted on experimental animals. A consensus is emerging that potent tea antioxidants exhibits chemo preventive qualities suggesting that similar process is also active in humans. Further research results are awaited to corroborate these findings in human beings. Another research conducted by Unilever Research Laboratories under the leadership of Dr. Paul Quilan indicated a strong positive link between drinking tea and an increase in memory, alertness, reaction time and a positive result on other mental and physical attributes. In this study, tea consumption was associated with a slightly higher critical flicker fusion threshold, which is a measure of a person’s ability to distinguish discrete sensory data Black tea rapidly revives by improving and maintaining mental alertness and its regular consumption throughout the day definitely helps to reduce feelings of fatigue. Scientific research is currently exploring tea’s ability to relax and restore body and mind and so helps maintain a sense of “balance”. Tea is the only beverage that can revive and relax thus helping you lead a healthier life. India now has to its credit the first Tea and Health Information Centre in Asia. The Brook Bond Tea and Health Information Centre set up in Bangalore by Hindustan Lever Ltd, the largest tea company in the world. The BBTHIC gathers latest information on internationally proven scientific research data related to tea and health and disseminates it to consumers and media like you. For further information on how to keep healthy with this beverage write to Brook Bond Tea & Information Centre P.O. Box 3788, Bangalore-560037.
As research into tea intensifies across the world, more and more scientists are reporting the benefits of drinking tea apart from the enjoyment and relaxation that every cup contains. The following provides a bird’s eye view of constituents of the tender tealeaves that make it a unique tasty and healthy drink at the same time:
Flavonoids: These are substances that reduce high blood pressure and harmful cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardio-vascular disease.
Tannin: Adds flavour, astringency and punch to tea and has a soothing effect on the stomach helps prevent inflammation and nervous disorders.
Epigallocatechingallate: An organic compound effective in fighting viruses that causes common cold and flu.
Saponins: These are substances that prevent fats from entering the blood stream.
Fluroide: A key element in promoting dental health, vital for healthy teeth and gums.
Thiamine: A key vitamin B that helps build concentration levels.
Caffeine: A mild stimulant found in tea
Vitamin C: This helps prevent gum infection and acts as a resistance builder.
Minerals: Tea contains crucial minerals such an Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.
R E S E A R C H ON T E A
The subject of tea and human
health has attracted so much of interest in the recent past that several
research scientists and various research institutes are engaged all over
the world in more and more study of this beverage. Dr. Hasan Mukhtar,
Professor & research director, department of dermatology, Case Western
Reserve University, Dr John Weisenberg, director emeritus, American Health
Foundation, Dr Chang S. Yang, professor, College of Pharmacy Rutgers University
College of Pharmacy, US, have done extensive research study on this subject.
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