Tea has been used in China as a medicinal beverage to promote health in mind and body for about 5000 years. The earliest known reference to tea as a health aid dates back to 2737 B.C. Green tea has been the beverage of choice among the Chinese elite intellects and bureaucrats who usually have the means to maintain an affluent dining habit. Historically, freshly plucked tea leaves were used directly for tea brewing or lightly heat-processed for preservation of the “health ingredients” if not consumed immediately. The word “tea” always means green tea in the “Middle Kingdom”.
Tea was an expensive beverage in ancient China. Its use was confined to the wealthy segments of the population. Only in Ming dynasty after the fall of the Mongolian empire in 1368 A.D., tea drinking spread from the elite to the populace.
When China was the sea power of the world (1405-1433), tea was among the indispensable supplies for the seamen. The amount of vitamin C in the tea drink consumed by the seafarers at that time was enough to prevent scurvy which would kill many European sailors more than 100 years later, but was essentially unknown to the medical officers assigned to the fleet of more than 27,000 men on their round voyage from China to Africa.
In a famous painting titled “Drinking Tea” (a poor English translation of the original elegant title in Chinese, meaning “Tea Tending Event”), which is now on display in the Palace Museum, Beijing, the most admired and envied painter of Ming dynasty, Tang Yin (1470-1523), recorded the traditional method for tea preparation at the time when China was the most prosperous nation on earth. As described in the poem written on the painting, an affluent intellect actually plucked fresh leaves from the tea trees growing on the southern hillside below his house to brew tea. This document recorded the fact that fresh or non-oxidized tea leaves, i.e., green tea, were used in the prosperous Chinese society at least until the latter part of Ming dynasty.
Oolong and black teas emerged as prosperity in China declined Oolong and black teas are processed from oxidized tea leaves with some added aroma not present in fresh tea leaves. In ancient China, these teas were produced sporadically, by frying at high temperature the partially degraded oxidized tea leaves which could not meet the stringent timing requirement for green tea production.
Black tea has dark brown color, just like that brown color forming on the cut surface of the head of a fresh lettuce after exposure to atmospheric oxygen. In black tea, most of the antioxidants are polymerized and inactivated, but the caffeine in the tea leaves is preserved. Therefore, the caffeine contents in black tea are higher than in green tea by weight. Black tea was primarily consumed by the minorities living in the northern and the western peripheral territories of the empire where preservation of the quality of green tea was difficult due to the long transportation time required to reach the market and where dairy products constituted a significant part of the regular diet of the populace. Oolong and black teas were first produced in significant quantities and oolong tea became the preferred beverage in southern China around 1650 A.D. when the hungry laborers there recognized that green tea depleted the body fat reserves badly needed for survival
in the years of social turmoil. Subsequently black tea is also produced for export to please the taste buds of the Europeans who like to add sugar and dairy products into their tea drinks. To date, most Chinese living in southern China and in Hong Kong and most Chinese Americans of southern China origin still shun green tea.
As part of our commitment to public education, Fleminger, Inc. has compiled a library of recent scientific publications on absorption of fats in experimental animals and increase in fat oxidation in humans. If you are interested in reading more about the currently available scientific literature on these conditions, please visit www.greenteahaus.com.
The Introductory period of tea drinking in the West The first shipment of tea to Europe in 1606 by the Dutch East India Company was green tea. Even to this date, the words “Orange Pekoe” printed on the tea bags served in many American and European hotels bears evidence to this fact although these same words are now being used for marketing a high-grade black tea produced in Sri Lanka and in India. In truth, the word “Orange” is the name of the Dutch royal family which had the monopoly in tea trading with China in the early 17th century. The word “Pekoe” is a phonetic spelling of the words “white fine hair” in the Amoy dialect that was used and is still used to describe a physical appearance of a high-grade green tea containing many young leaf buds. “Orange Pekoe” literally has nothing to do with black tea. Black tea does not have “white fine hair” appearance at all.
Mass production of black tea in Sri Lanka began in 1869. The global black tea traders simply transposed an established designation for a high-grade green tea to their new products being sold to the unquestioning public. Black tea became popular in Europe since the 19th century and now constitutes about 80% of the tea products sold in the Western world.
Tea drinking was introduced into the USA from Europe as part of the global tea trade and via the Chinese restaurants operated by the Chinese American immigrants from southern China before 1945. As a result, most Americans are more familiar with black tea in tea bags for convenience or oolong (half-black) tea commonly served in the Chinese restaurants.
The love for green tea is an acquired taste. Based on the 5000 years of tea civilization and the most recent molecular biology research, a health-conscious person should cultivate the taste for green tea in pursuing a healthy diet and life style provided the food calorie intake is more than adequate.
A legend tells how a Chinese emperor of a minority origin was converted from a black tea drinker to a green tea drinker to become one of the longest reigning rulers in the history of China. The Story of the Emperor and Green Tea Emperor Chien-lung of the Ching Dynasty who reigned from 1736 to 1796 A.D. disguised himself as a commoner, traveling with two cabinet ministers incognito to the countryside. Since the Manchu Imperial family originally came from a northern minority,
Chien-lung was used to drinking black tea only. When his entourage was passing a tea plantation in south-central China, the servants offered him a cup of choice green tea. After a few sips, the emperor commented: “Too bland. Tasteless,” and continued his journey on horseback. Riding about half of a mile later, the emperor turned to his ministers and said, “Good tea.” The perceptive king suddenly realized that the characteristic soothing savory sweet tea-taste of a choice green tea only comes a few minutes after the sip. Since then, green tea was introduced to the Manchu ruling family as the beverage of choice and a special misty hillside in Zhejiang Province was designated as the Imperial Tea Plantation.
A global green tea movement in the 21st century. Unless you are living in a society where there is a shortage of food or are under the threat of starvation, you should seriously consider drinking green tea as your primary beverage. The affluent educated public living in this age of information explosion will soon demand the tea merchants to supply a grade of green tea good enough to maintain or to enhance their health in mind and body. The educated consumers want a green tea with no carcinogenic pesticides, with no heavy metal contaminations and containing a level of “active ingredients” sufficient for maintaining a healthy immune system and for reducing free radical damage in the body. Dr. Lee’s TeaForHealth™ has set an example for other tea companies to follow. In working with collaborating tea plantations, it has been shown to be possible to avoid using chemically synthesized insecticides in cultivating tea by restricting the tea harvesting events to early spring or in late fall of the year when all the leaf-eating insects are not active.
The tea plantation should be located in an area remote from industrial pollutants or heavy automobile exhaustion discharges because tea leaves are strong absorbents of environmental chemicals. The freshly plucked tea leaves should be heat-processed immediately and properly vacuum-packed with nitrogen flushing.
The (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) contents as well as the pesticide and heavy metal residues in the dry tea leaves must be analyzed by an independent laboratory and certified to meet a set of minimum standards before release for marketing. In other words, green tea is a soothing beverage with health-protecting functions and should be treated as such in a serious manner. When using a dry green tea containing at least 7%, preferably 9-10%, EGCG (for example, the High-Antioxidant Green Tea as defined in this website), a daily consumption of 9 to 30 grams of tea leaves brewed properly in a total volume of 1,200 ml of hot water would be adequate for the purpose of maintaining a healthy immune system and for reducing free radical damage in the body. A global green tea movement has begun as a continuation of the tea civilization initiated 5000 years ago in China.
For more information, please refer to the Library at http://www.greenteahaus.com
Submitted by Derrick Walker
Derrick Walker is an advocate of holistic health and believes in cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Derrick has spent the past twenty years managing and connecting disparate systems and building comunity on the internet. He has consulted to, such giants of these industries as: I.B.M.; Syntel, Ford ; Yamaha; Intuit Software; Warner Bros, Universal Studios, and Siebel to name just a few. Derrick currently manages an internet media consultancy and produces health and technology events.