Chinese have been drinking tea for over 4000 years. Tea, to the Chinese, is considered absolutely indispensable to good living.
In 780 BC the first book of tea was written by Look Yi. About this time a physician by the name of Dr. Sun Noon began testing herbs. He ingested 14 herbs a day, many of them toxic which made him ill. He found that eating tea leaves made him feel better. He inferred that tea was capable of cleansing the body of toxins. Many modern studies support the cleansing properties of green tea and also tout it as an important part in the battle against cancer. One of these studies conducted by Swedish Professor Dr. Karolinska discovered that chemicals in green tea could prevent cancer cells from growing.
In addition to fighting cancer, green tea has many other health benefits: it is a mild stimulant yet it relaxes you and wards off nervous tension; it makes vision sharper; it makes thinking clearer; green tea wards off thirst by encouraging saliva and it cools the body down- especially in summer; it can protect against sun stroke(room temperature-hot tea is for winter only); it removes toxins out of the body(that’s why green tea is often called the ”second liver”); it aids digestion and settles the stomach; soothes hangovers; helps digest fat; reduces gas; prevents constipation; stops diarrhea; is good for the skin; mixed with other Chinese herbs, is a powerful remedy against colds and flu’s; makes strong teeth, fights cavities and is good for the gums; and reduces the chance for cancer. Green tea is advantageous for lengthening and improving ones quality of life.
The Chinese have a multitude of names, classes, grades and varieties of tea. This can be both confusing and fascinating. As a general rule there are five main types of tea:
1) Green tea which is non-fermented and non-oxidized. Six pounds of fresh Green tea leaves makes one pound of dry tea. The tea is usually dried by heating it in a large wok or by steaming or drying. Although green tea is not very complex in flavor and aroma, it is very beneficial to health.
2) White tea is picked earlier then green tea leaves and consists totally of young buds that are covered with white down. With a subtle light sweet taste, this rare tea consists of only singular tender buds picked in spring before they open and is laid out on mats and air dried. Teas brewed from these buds have a pale yellow hue with a light honey-sweet scent. Its taste is delicate with a clean mellow sweetness. The aftertaste is fresh and sweet. White tea appears to possibly have more potent anticancer qualities than green tea.
3) Oolong and Gunpowder teas are half-fermented or half-oxidized. Their richness and depth of color is contingent on the degree of oxidation or fermentation controlled by the amount of firing. These teas are rich and flavorful and range in taste from delicate to robust.
4) Red teas (also called black teas) are completely fermented or oxidized teas. These teas are fermented until they fall apart. They look yellow until they are dried when they become red or black. teas which have undergone this processing are highly favored in Europe and Hong Kong. They sooth the stomach and the throat and aid digestion. People who work hard benefit from the stimulant properties of red tea because it keeps them from getting tired.
5) Teas mixed with other substances result in hundreds of upon hundreds of varieties which promote health, healing and well-being. Jasmine flowers added to tea is enjoyed by millions of tea drinkers. In addition to its pleasant taste, jasmine is good for calming the stomach after over-eating. It is also good for the gums, throat and lungs. Chrysanthemum mixed with Oolong (Pu Li) is also delicious and healthful. It is considered a powerful prevention against the common cold. Green tea or oolong enriched with rose petals is wonderful for the skin and digestion and helps with weight loss. Combined with Chinese medicines, tea addresses and addresses an enormous range of medical problems. There are hundreds of these medicines designed to prevent or cure human maladies.
It is very important to make tea properly. Traditionally, four things are necessary for good tea: loose tea(or tea in bags), clean water, proper utensils, and fire. Follow the recommended quanties of high quality loose tea or tea bags. Use clean spring water if possible. Bottled water may be an adequate alternative. Most tap water is bad due to the chemicals. If you use tap water from municipal systems, let it sit for 12 hours in a porcelain, glass, or stainless steel container and then use only the top two-thirds of this water. In China, four large lakes have water that is famous for making tea. In time, you can discover the best local sources for tea water. Porcelain, glass, or stainless steel utensils are also essential. Aluminum and iron utensils should be avoided. In China, white tea cups and tea pots are considered the best. These utensils should be kept clean of course; fresh tea or hot water is better than using soap. Last, the water should be heated properly. It should be taken off the heat just after it begins to boil when the bubbles are very small. When you remove the water from the heat, wait ten to twenty seconds before pouring it over the tea in the tea pot. Putting tea into boiling water is bad because it makes the tea black and bitter. In Canton Province, this is called Kitchen’s God Tea because it is black like the Kitchen God’s face. When you pour the hot water, do so from a height of eight to twelve inches so it strikes the bottom of the pot and the tea with agitation. Let the tea seep from twenty seconds to one minute, pour the freshly brewed tea into warmed cups, and enjoy one of the least complicated, most healthful, inexpensive and satisfying pleasures in life.
Three or four cups of tea per day totaling not over ten grams should help keep you very healthy. Tea bags contain 2.5 to 3.5 grams of dry tea. Each bag will make two to three cups of tea. As with all things, tea should be used in moderation. Because it is a mild stimulant, tea should not be consumed immediately before retiring. Freshly brewed tea is best, but you may keep tea in the refrigerator by brewing it strong and adding water when you want to drink it.