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Health The Tea Way

Tea & Cardiac Ailments: The natural oxidant properties of tea may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. The polyphenols in tea have beneficial effect on two long established heart disease risk factors- High Cholesterol - High Blood Pressure .To quote Dr Simon Maxwell, Clinical Pharmacologist, Edinburgh University, " Dietary flavonoids may play in reducing the risk of circulatory diseases".

Tea & Cancer: Researchers from the National Center for Toxicological Research in the United States, demonstrated that the flavins and polyphenols significantly inhibited the growth of human pancreatic and prostrate tumor cells . Their research also indicated that tea could have a role to play in changing the genes involved in the process of causing cancer. Another study published in the International Journal of Cancer indicated that men who drink between 2 and 3 cups of tea per day might reduce their risk of developing prostrate cancer by up to 30% compared to the non tea drinkers.

Tea & Oral Health :Tea is one of the few natural sources of fluoride and has been shown to have positive effect on preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Scientists believe that drinking tea improves oral health by helping prevent dental caries, by minimizing the possibility of dental plaques, the scale caused by mouth bacteria that leads to gum disease.

Tea and other Biochemical factors

Tea is a rich source of 2 minerals essential for health :

Manganese : Tea is one of the richest source of manganese in our diet , with 5-6 cups of tea providing 45% of our daily requirement.

Potassium : Potassium is vital for maintaining heart beat. Deficiency leads to erratic heart beat and fatigue. Tea is a rich source of potassium . 5-6 cups provides nearly ¾ of the recommended daily intake for an adult.

The Magic of Green Tea

Green tea, with its sweet aroma and eternally fresh taste has been approved and drunk since its introduction to Japan centuries ago. Modern research has finally put up why as a functional food Green tea is indispensable and should prove a popular beverage for the health conscious generation. It is indeed as researchers say " A miraculous medicine with an extraordinary power to prolong".

The Healthy effects of Green Tea :

Green Tea has the following components :

1) Catechins: Reduces incidence of cancer, Reduces tumors, Reduces mutations, Reduces oxidation by active oxygen, Lowers blood cholesterol, Inhibits increase of blood pressure, increase of blood sugar, Kills bacteria, influenza virus, Fights carcinogenic bacteria, Prevents halitosis

2) Caffeine: Acts as diuretics 

3) Vitamin C: Reduces stress Prevents flu, 

4) Theanine ( a kind of amino acid ): Gives green tea its delicious taste

5) Vitamin B Complex: Aids carbohydrate metabolism.


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. 


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.


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.


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.

It’s one of the few sectors, which is completely dominated by private players. Over the years companies like Duncan’s, Tata Tea, Williamson Magor and HILL have led the business. “Now there are new challenges ahead,” says Dr Bhaskar Banerjee, Sr. MD, Duncan’s Industries. “ The task before the industry is to find new avenues of marketing. We should stop selling and start marketing. Tea is a lifestyle product and should be sold as such. It caters to every taste and every pocket and in that sense is a leveler. We at Goodricke for instance try and emphasise the quality of good life associated with tea. The packaging and branding and product quality is all tailored together to reflect this graciousness,” says K.S. David, managing director of Goodricke, the Indian arm of the world’s largest tea producing group – The Lawrie Group Plc. Another aspect, which concerns the industry, is branding. “Branding is a must for value addition. Packet tea is not only convenient but also ensures that chances of adding spurious elements are negated. Moreover, brands can be created to suit particular taste as well. However, companies must ensure that brands are built around quality and standards are maintained. The shift to packet tea would greatly benefit the industry,” say Roshan Lal Joseph, director, Eveready Industries. The industry has played a major role in the welfare of a large workforce. “We must understand that a happy workforce is a must for the improvement of the industry. To this end we have to plough back a substantial part of our earnings to create a good working environment in the gardens,” says Vinay Goenka, chairman, Warren Tea. The government too has a role to play. Tea attracts the highest slab of taxation, and it’s time the government decided to do something about it. Because otherwise the goose that lays the golden egg may well be in trouble. Finally, tea may well achieve another first. It’s just getting round to be the conduit to improving relations with Pakistan. The recent ITA delegation’s visit to Pakistan has created the climate; it’s for the political forces to take the next round of talks over a cup of tea.

T E A – F A C T S

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.


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.

Courtesy: India Today


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