When the Emperor (and doctor) Shen Nung accidentally discovered tea (according to the legend in 2737 before JC) he had already written a first essay on herbalism. He quickly added tea to the list of beneficial plants. Many doctors praise the benefits of tea consumption: particularly teas composed of young leaves which contain some very interesting elements. This is where the consumption of quality teas becomes important.


The primary components of tea

Theine: this is the same alkaloid as caffeine but contrary to coffee, the « caffeine » in the tea does not give an immediate effect, but acts over time to arouse the spirit. Tea stimulates and does not excite. It also eliminates tiredness and increases concentration. The theine content in a tea depends on the amount of shoots in the tea (initial leaves) and the time of harvest. Teas harvested in the spring generally contain more theine.

Tannins: the famous anti-oxidants (fight free radicals which are partially responsible for cellular ageing) are contained in the tannins.

Tea also contains certain nutriments:
> amino acids, one of which is the theanine
> aromatic compounds
> chlorophyll
> vitamins (A, B, E, P, K)
> minerals: potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, fluorine and hardly any calories (1 to 2 per cup)

Iron: Tea can slow down iron absorption by the organism. If you are lacking iron, tea consumption should be limited to in-between meals.


The benefist of tea

Many studies have been done on the influence of tea on the health of an individual. One should be cautious as to the interpretation of the results. In certain cases the following benefits have been observed:

> Reduction of arterial hypertension; reduction  of cholesterol
> Decrease of toxins, by slowing the assimilation of fats and sugar
> Increase in blood circulation, more elastic blood vessels and improved heartbeat

But, these observation are isolated cases and do not permit a general conclusion. These results are linked to an important consumption of tea which, as any infusion, will have an important vasodilator effect, which helps digestion and has a strong diuretic effect. Whatever the case may be, tea often goes together with good health and remains a drink associated with pleasure, sharing and hospitality.