Ayurveda, "the Science of Life': is a system of holistic healthcare which has evolved through some 4,500 years of time-tested experience in India. It uses a range of natural methods of health care including meditation, exercise, massage, dietary recommendations, as well as daily and seasonal disciplines.
By combining these methods, a state of physical and psychological well-being is promoted by balancing the mind, body and behaviour in harmony with nature and the surrounding environment. According to Ayurveda, good health depends on the balanced state of the human body, which consists of five elements: Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Aether (Spirit).
An imbalance, due to an abnormal increase or depletion of these elements causes ill-health. Under Ayurveda, all mental and physical functions of a human body are controlled by three "Doshas" or energies — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When these energies are working together in tandem, good health would be maintained. But, if they were not working in harmony, illness would result. These Ayurvedic Teas are especially formulated by Lochan Tea, Ltd. of India, according to Traditional Ayurvedic principles, to enhance the balances or correct the imbalances which afflict mankind due to the strains and stresses of living in the modern world.
Teabag tea is made with very small pieces of tea - called "Fannings & Dust." Because of their miniscule size, the tea pieces in a commercial teabag release all of their tannins and flavor at once. This can result in a bitter brew if allowed to steep for more than a minute or two. Conversely, Loose-Leaf Tea is made from either large pieces or whole-leaf teas. These allow the tannins and flavors to be released slowly, and in a controlled manner.
You can only get one cup (or pot) of tea from teabags, but you can get up to four cups (or pots) from an equal amount of loose tea. Loose tea is also more environmentally friendly - you don't have the box, the box liner, the paper or foil wrappers, the bag, string, staple & tag to dispose of. When you're finished brewing a pot of loose-leaf tea, you can take the spent leaves and dump them on your garden, yard, flower or herb pots, or compost heap. They bio-degrade and help to replenish the soil. Of course, if you don't have a garden, yard or flower pots, you can dump them down the drain, or dispose of them in the trash, where they will also bio-degrade.
And finally, when you factor in the fact that you're not paying for expensive packaging (it actually costs more than the tea!), and that you can get multiple cups or pots out of loose tea, it turns out that most Loose-Leaf teas are actually cheaper per serving than teabag teas!
Tea is rich in polyphenols, tannin, and flavanols (often termed catechins), fluoride, and vitamin C, P, K, and B. Although tea contains caffeine, the amounts are far less than those in coffee and produce a softer, beneficial effect. Studies suggest that as few as four servings of tea a day may have a positive impact on your health. Read on and continue sipping tea for your health and well-being.
Researchers have found that green tea was the best antioxidant scavenger of deadly free radicals. Free radicals are very powerful oxidants, which cause intense cell damage. When exposed to Oxygen, cell tissues are vulnerable to free radical attachment, causing an effect much like that of rust. Over time, this may lead to cancer or cardiovascular disease. The Antioxidants in tea are able to neutralize the damaging effects of oxygen and free radicals that are present in the body. Antioxidants slow or prevent cell damage from exposure to oxygen by creating a barrier around cell tissue.
(University of California, Berkeley)
Green Tea has been found to inhibit the growth of esophogeal and stomach tumors in mice. Green and black Tea could inhibit the development of pre-cancerous lesions as well.<
(Saitama Cancer Center and the Department of Biochemistry, Bunri Tokushima University)
A recent study showed that a compound in black tea called "TF-2" caused colorectal cancer cells to "commit suicide"; normal cells were unaffected.
Recent studies show that the polyphenols found in green tea appear in greater concentrations in white tea, helping to destroy bacteria and other organisms that cause disease.
(Pace University's Dyson College of Arts & Sciences)
A study undertaken found that, of 340 men and women who had suffered from heart attacks, those who drank a cup or more of black tea daily had a 44% lower risk of repeated heart attacks compared to non-tea drinkers. Flavonoids are theorized to improve the lining of blood vessels, accounting for the decrease.
(Brigham and Young, Harvard Medical School)
Studies show that drinking black tea helps to prevent narrowed or clogged arteries that lead to ischemic heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
(Boston University School of Medicine; The Zutphen Study, Netherlands)
Black tea was shown to reduce LDL-cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") by 11.1% in three weeks. It was speculated that tea polyphenols might limit the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, thus reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood.
(U.S. Department of Agriculture)
In addition to reducing the "bad" cholesterol LDL deposits, tea elevates HDL, the "good" cholesterol. Green tea and oolong especially, could prevent arteriosclerosis.
(The University of California)
Studies show the tannin and fluoride content present in tea prevents tooth decay.
(American Dental Institutions)
The Flavonoids, mainly catechins, found in green tea have exhibited inhibitory effects on the growth of cariogenic bacteria by inhibiting the adherence and growth of plaque at the tooth surface.
(Sakanaka, et al 1990)
Polyphenols found in both green and black tea can block bacteria from producing foul-smelling compounds such as hydrogen sulfide in the mouth.
(American Society for Microbiology, Washington, DC)
Green tea was shown to inhibit the development of arthritis in mice. Mice given green tea polyphenols were significantly less likely to develop arthritis. The study was conducted on 36 mice. Of the 18 mice that received the green tea, only eight (44%) developed arthritis. Among the 18 mice that did not receive the green tea, all but one, or 94% developed arthritis.
(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, CWRU's School of Medicine)
It was found that green tea extract resulted in a significant increase in energy expenditure (a measure of metabolism), plus, it also had a significant effect on fat oxidation.
(American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
A recent study showed that green tea's antioxidant "EGCG" stimulates the body to burn calories, notably fat. In the study, a daily dose of 270 mg of EGCG (the amount in 2 to 3 cups of green tea) caused men to burn 4% more energy - about 80 extra calories a day.
(University of Geneva, Switzerland)
In a study of more than 81,000 women 40 to 65 years of age, it was concluded that 8 fluid ounces of tea consumed daily actually lowers the risk of developing kidney stones by 8%.
(The Third International Scientific Symposium on Tea & Human Health)
Furthermore, tea acts as a diuretic (stimulates the flow of urine), promoting better kidney function and aids digestion.
It has been shown that Green Tea reduces infection and the stresses of bacteria on the system thus significantly retarding the aging process.
(The Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Shizuoka, Japan)
Blood cells from tea drinkers respond 5 times faster to germs than those of coffee drinkers.
(Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA)
Pu-Erh has long been drunk for its health properties - namely known to eliminate cholesterol - and sipped after meals as a digestif.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an active ingredient in tea, has antiviral, antioxidant and antibacterial properties that are now being reported to inhibit the HIV virus.
(Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX)
The FDA has not approved or verified these statements. They are not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or medical condition. If you have any questions regarding Tea & Health, we suggest you ask your Doctor.
How the leaves are processed will determine their final classification as White, Green, Oolong or Black Tea. The main difference between the many tea varieties is how much oxygen the leaves are allowed to absorb during processing. Much oxygen produces dark-colored, black teas. A little oxygen results in green tea. Unprocessed leaves are called "white tea."
are produced on a very limited scale in China and India. They are the least processed of all teas. The new tea buds are plucked before they open and simply allowed to dry. The curled-up buds have a silvery appearance and produce a pale and very delicate cup of tea.
is often referred to as “unfermented" tea. The freshly picked leaves are allowed to dry, then they are heat-treated (steamed or fired) to stop any fermentation (also called oxidation). In China, traditional hand-making methods are still employed in many places, particularly in the manufacture of the fine green teas you'll find offered here.
is generally referred to as "semi-fermented" tea and is principally manufactured in China and Taiwan – often called Formosa, its old Dutch name. For the manufacture of Oolongs, the leaves are wilted in direct sunlight, then shaken in bamboo baskets to lightly bruise the edges. Next, the leaves are spread out to dry until the surface of the leaf turns slightly yellow. They are then usually smoked over pine charcoal, giving them their distinctive flavor and aroma. Oolongs are always whole leaf teas, never broken by rolling. The least fermented Oolong teas, almost green in appearance, are called "Pouchong."
undergoes a full fermentation process composed of four basic steps - withering, rolling, fermenting, and firing. First, the plucked leaves are spread out to wither. The withered leaves are then rolled, in order to release the chemicals within the leaf that are essential to its final color and flavor. The rolled leaves are spread out once more to absorb oxygen (oxidize / ferment), causing the leaves to turn from green to coppery red. Finally, the oxidized leaves are fired in order to arrest fermentation, turning the leaf black and giving it the recognizable tea scent.
is a special kind of Tea which is made from green or black tea, fermented (using a secret process passed down for centuries), and pressed into cakes or bricks and stored for several years before being offered for sale. Aged Pu-Erh is also available as a loose tea. Like a fine wine, Pu-Erh's flavor mellows and improves over time – some highly prized (and very expensive!) Pu-Erh Cakes are over 30 years old!
include Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey and other Teas from India & Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in White, Green and Black versions. Chai (the Hindi word for Tea) is a blend of teas and spices. Indian Darjeeling & Assam Black Teas (or Chinese or Ceylonese Blacks) are blended with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, black pepper and other aromatic spices. Chai can also be made with Green Tea or Rooibos for reduced caffeine levels. Chai is usually served strong with Milk and Honey, although it is also wonderful all by itself!
White, Green and Black Teas are created when additional flavorings are mixed with the leaf as a final stage before the tea is packed. For Premium Jasmine tea, whole, fresh jasmine blossoms are added to the green tea during the drying process, new blossoms are added every night, and the old ones are removed.
This process is repeated for up to 10 nights. For other grades of Jasmine tea, the blossoms are added when the tea is packed. For other floral-scented or flavored teas, flower blossoms or petals may be added to the tea either during drying, or just prior to packing. Fruit and spice flavored teas are generally made by combining a fruit's or spice's essential oils, or actual pieces of the fruit or spice, with tea from China, India or Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
are not really teas. They are made from South African Herbs called "Rooibos" and "Honeybush." Both are naturally caffeine-free, with distinctive flavors and aromas. Rooibos' flavor is reminiscent of Chinese Black Tea, but somewhat milder and sweeter. Honeybush is a honey-scented flowering bush and creates an enticing, rich brew with sweet honey overtones. Rich in anti-oxidants, phytoestrogens and essential minerals, both of these organic South African herbals are delicious and healthy, and ARE naturally caffeine-free.
Another type of "Red" Tea is "Yerba Maté," a South American herb with a sweet, tea-like flavor, high antioxidant and mineral content and the stimulating properties of caffeine. Maté has great social significance in Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil, where people carry their Maté with them in a "gourda & bombilla" through which they sip all day long, adding water as they go. Maté is NOT caffeine-free!
are not "true teas" as they are not made with tea leaves. Herbal teas are made from flowers, herbs, spices and other botanicals, specially blended to be soothing and rejuvenating. These "teas" are naturally caffeine-free.
Our Decaffeinated Teas are decaffeinated using either a natural CO-2 process or a water process that allows the leaves to retain their delicate shape and flavor. Made from Ceylonese (Sri Lankan), Indian or Chinese Green and Black Teas, they come in several varieties and flavors.
The story of tea begins in ancient China over 5,000 years ago. According to legend, Shen Nung - an early emperor - was a skilled ruler, creative scientist and patron of the arts. His far-sighted edicts required, among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the boiling water and a brown liquid was infused into the water.
As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing and cleansing to the body's systems. And so, according to legend, tea was created. (This myth maintains such a practical narrative, that many mythologists believe it may relate closely to the actual events, now lost in ancient history.) In view of the Emperor's findings, tea was used as a medicinal beverage for thousands of years before becoming used as a social and refreshment beverage.
Tea consumption spread throughout the Chinese culture reaching into every aspect of the society. In 800 A.D. Lu Yu wrote the first definitive book on tea, the "Cha Jing." This amazing man was orphaned as a child and raised by scholarly Buddhist monks in one of China's finest monasteries. However, as a young man, he rebelled against the discipline of priestly training which had made him a skilled observer. His fame as a performer increased with each year, but he felt his life lacked meaning. Finally, in mid-life, he retired for five years into seclusion.
Drawing from his vast memory of observed events and places, he codified the various methods of tea cultivation and preparation in ancient China. The vast definitive nature of his work projected him into near sainthood within his own lifetime. Patronized by the Emperor himself, his work clearly showed the Zen Buddhist philosophy to which he was exposed as a child. It was this form of tea service that Zen Buddhist missionaries would later introduce to imperial Japan.
The first tea seeds were brought to Japan by the returning Buddhist priest Yeisei, who had seen the value of tea in China in enhancing religious mediation. As a result, he is known as the "Father of Tea" in Japan. Because of this early association, tea in Japan has always been associated with Zen Buddhism. Tea received almost instant imperial sponsorship and spread rapidly from the royal court and monasteries to the other sections of Japanese society. Tea was elevated to an art form resulting in the creation of the Japanese Tea Ceremony ("Cha-no-yu" or "the hot water for tea").
The best description of this complex art form was probably written by the Irish-Greek journalist-historian Lafcadio Hearn, one of the few foreigners ever to be granted Japanese citizenship during this era. He wrote from personal observation, "The Tea ceremony requires years of training and practice to graduate in art...yet the whole of this art, as to its detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible".
Such purity of form, of expression, prompted the creation of supportive arts and services. A special form of architecture (chaseki) developed for "tea houses", based on the duplication of the simplicity of a forest cottage. The cultural/artistic hostesses of Japan, the Geishi, began to specialize in the presentation of the tea ceremony. As more and more people became involved in the excitement surrounding tea, the purity of the original Zen concept was lost. The tea ceremony became corrupted, boisterous and highly embellished. "Tea Tournaments" were held among the wealthy where nobles competed among each other for rich prizes in naming various tea blends. Rewarding winners with gifts of silk, armor, and jewelry was totally alien to the original Zen attitude of the ceremony. Three great Zen priests restored tea to its original place in Japanese society:
Ikkyu (1394-1481)– a prince who became a priest and was successful in guiding the nobles away from their corruption of the tea ceremony.
Murata Shuko (1422-1502) – the student of Ikkyu and very influential in re-introducing the Tea ceremony into Japanese society.
Sen-no Rikkyu (1521-1591) – priest who set the rigid standards for the ceremony, largely used intact today. Rikyo was successful in influencing the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who became Japan's greatest patron of the "art of tea". A brilliant general, strategist, poet, and artist, this unique leader facilitated the final and complete integration of tea into the pattern of Japanese life. So complete was this acceptance, that tea was viewed as the ultimate gift, and warlords paused for tea before battles.
While tea was at this high level of development in both Japan and China, information concerning this then unknown beverage began to filter back to Europe. Earlier caravan leaders had mentioned it, but were unclear as to its service format or appearance. (One reference suggests the leaves be boiled, salted, buttered, and eaten!) The first European to personally encounter tea and write about it was the Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz in 1560. Portugal, with her technologically advanced navy, had been successful in gaining the first right of trade with China. It was as a missionary on that first commercial mission that Father de Cruz had tasted tea four years before. The Portuguese developed a trade route by which they shipped their tea to Lisbon, and then Dutch ships transported it to France, Holland, and the Baltic countries. (At that time Holland was politically affiliated with Portugal. When this alliance was altered in 1602, Holland, with her excellent navy, entered into full Pacific trade in her own right.)
Though concerned over developments in America, English tea interests still centered on the product's source-the Orient. There the trading of tea had become a way of life, developing its own language known as "Pidgin English". Created solely to facilitate commerce, the language was composed of English, Portuguese, and Indian words all pronounced in Chinese. Indeed, the word "Pidgin" is a corrupted form of the Chinese word for "do business". So dominant was the tea culture within the English speaking cultures that many of these words came to hold a permanent place in our language:
"Mandarin" (from the Portuguese "mandar" meaning to order) - the court official empowered by the emperor to trade tea.
"Cash" (from the Portuguese "caixa" meaning case or money box)-the currency of tea transactions.
"Caddy" (from the Chinese word for one pound weight)-the standard tea trade container.
"Chow" (from the Indian word for food cargo)-slang for food.
By the 1800s, much of the world was drinking tea and it almost all came from China, with a small amount exported from Japan and Indonesia. No doubt Britain would have gone on trading silver for tea with China if it had not been for two facts. China was not easy to deal with, and for some time Britain had been considering the possibility of producing her own tea elsewhere. Not only was language a problem, but so was the currency. Vast sums of money were spent on tea. To take such large amounts of money physically out of England would have financially collapsed the country and been impossible to transport safely half way around the world.
With plantations in newly occupied India, the John Company saw a solution. In India they could grow the inexpensive crop of opium and use it as a means of exchange. Because of its addictive nature, the demand for the drug would be lifelong, insuring an unending market. By clever dealing through middlemen, the British found a way of exporting opium to China, making a great deal of money in the process. The Chinese got their opium, and no blame could be directly pinned on Britain. The money that was earned from the Chinese opium dealers was paid straight back for tea supplies.
The Chinese emperors tried to maintain the forced distance between the Chinese people and the "devils," but disorder in the Chinese culture and foreign military might prevented it. The deals continued until the Chinese government took a stand and confiscated imports, prompting Britain to declare war in 1840. Tea was no longer allowed to leave China for London's docks. The Opium Wars broke out with the English ready to go to war for free trade (their right to sell opium). By 1842 England had gained enough military advantages to enable her to sell opium in China undisturbed until 1908.
This episode could have spelled disaster for tea drinkers in Britain and elsewhere, but fortunately tea had already been found growing wild in Assam in north-eastern India. By 1823, the first plantations had been established and in 1838 the first India tea was shipped to Britain. Soon tea was being cultivated in other parts of north-east India, in the Kangra valley in the north west and in Travancore and Nilgiris in the south. Ceylon's plantations were developed by British planters in the 1870s but, although the export of China tea had been re-established by this time, the quantities traded with Britain were never as high as they had been before the opium wars.
The first three American millionaires - T. H. Perkins of Boston, Stephen Girard of Philadelphia, and John Jacob Astor of New York - all made their fortunes in the China trade. America began direct trade with China soon after the Revolution was over in 1789. America's newer, faster clipper ships out-sailed the slower, heavier English "tea wagons" that had until then dominated the trade. This forced the English navy to update their fleet, a fact America would have to address in the War of 1812.
The new American ships established sailing records that still stand for speed and distance. John Jacob Astor began his tea trading in 1800. He required a minimum profit on each venture of 50% and often made 100%. Stephen Girard of Philadelphia was known as the "gentle tea merchant." His critical loans to the young (and still weak) American government enabled the nation to re-arm for the War of 1812. The orphanage founded by him still perpetuates his good name. Thomas Perkins was from one of Boston's oldest sailing families.
The Chinese trust in him as a gentleman of his word enabled him to conduct enormous transactions half way around the world without a single written contract. His word and his handshake were enough - so great was his honor in the eyes of the Chinese. It is to their everlasting credit that none of these men ever paid for tea with opium. America was able to break the English tea monopoly because its ships were faster and America paid in gold.
The trading of tea become much quicker and easier in the 1790s after the launch of the first clippers. These sleek, stable and incredibly fast ships knocked between five and seven months off the time it took to sail from China to Europe or North America. The clipper races that ended in the port of London after a round trip of only seven or eight months made headline news and added a premium to the first tea home. By the mid-1800's the world was involved in a global clipper race as nations competed with each other to claim the fastest ships.
England and America were the leading rivals. Each year the tall ships would race from China to the Tea Exchange in London to bring in the first tea for auction. Though beginning half way around the world, the mastery of the crews was such that the great ships often raced up the Thames separated only by minutes. But the romance of the tea clipper era ended with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. By 1871 the newer steamships began to replace the great clipper ships, and today only the Cutty Sark sits in stately fashion by the River Thames at Greenwich as a last reminder of the excitement of those days.
The Scottish botanist/adventurer Robert Fortune, who spoke fluent Chinese, was able to sneak into mainland China the first year after the Opium War. He obtained some of the closely guarded tea seeds and made notes on tea cultivation. With support from the Crown, various experiments in growing tea in India were attempted. Many of these failed due to bad soil selection and incorrect planting techniques, ruining many a younger son of a noble family. Through each failure, however, the technology was perfected.
Finally, after years of trial and error, fortunes made and lost, the English tea plantations in India and other parts of Asia flourished. The great English tea marketing companies were founded and production was mechanized as the world industrialized in the late 1880s. By the turn of the century, annual tea consumption in Britain alone was approximately 115,200 tons - about 6 pounds 2 ounces per person. As consumption grew, so too did the industry, and at the end of the nineteenth century the first plantings of tea had been made in Africa. By the 1940s, major plantations had been set up in Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The first tea from Kenya was sold in London in 1928 and today that country ranks third in world production.
America stabilized her government, strengthened her economy, and expanded her borders and interests. By 1904 the United States was ready for the world to see her development at the St. Louis World's Fair. Trade exhibitors from around the world brought their products to America's first World's Fair. One such merchant was Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner. Originally, he had planned to give away free samples of hot tea to fair visitors. But when a heat wave hit, no one was interested. To save his investment of time and travel, he dumped a load of ice into the brewed tea and served the first "iced tea". It was (along with the Egyptian fan dancer) the hit of the Fair. Four years later, Thomas Sullivan of New York developed the concept of "bagged tea". As a tea merchant, he carefully wrapped each sample delivered to restaurants for their consideration. He recognized a natural marketing opportunity when he realized the restaurants were brewing the samples "in the bags" to avoid the mess of tea leaves in the kitchens. Thus was born the Teabag!
Beginning in the late 1880s in both America and England, fine hotels began to offer tea service in tea rooms and tea courts. Served in the late afternoon, Victorian ladies (and their gentlemen friends) could meet for tea and conversation. Many of these tea services became the hallmark of the elegance of the hotel, such as the tea services at the Ritz (Boston) and the Plaza (New York). By 1910 hotels began to host afternoon tea dances as dance craze after dance craze swept the United States and England. Often considered wasteful by older people, they provided a place for the new "working girl" to meet men in a city, far from home and family. (Indeed, the editor of Vogue once fired a large number of female secretarial workers for "wasting their time at tea dances").
Tea is more popular than ever in America today. Currently, there is a re-awakening of interest in tea as many Americans seek a more positive, healthy lifestyle. Fine hotels throughout the United States are re-establishing or planning for the first time afternoon tea services.
Myriad tea shops and salons are opening across the country, serving everything from "Tea and Biscuits" to full-blown Victorian-style Afternoon Teas with scones, tea-sandwiches, soups and sweets.
On-line merchants offer a vast array of loose and bagged teas, specialty shops offer exotic, rare and hard-to-fine loose teas from around the world, and the range of bottled, ready-to-drink teas seems to be expanding daily.
Many teas that were unknown to the US just a few years ago are now being offered for sale. Certified Organic teas are increasing in numbers and popularity, as are Certified Fair-Trade teas. Gardens that, just a few years ago, were on the verge of bankruptcy and failure have become re-vitalized and are increasing production and sales.
All-in-all, this is a great time for tea!