Tea, more than a stimulant

After water, tea is the most consumed beverage. Tea consists of the young leaves and buds of the tea bush – Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze – which is native to the Southeast Asian mountain country and has been cultivated in East Asia for more than 2000 years

History of tea

According to legend, the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung discovered the excellent properties of tea as a drink in 2737 BC when some of the tea sprigs used as fuel fell into the pot while boiling river water. But it was the Chinese scholar Kuo P’O, who in 350 AD. tea and its use for the first time.
Along with many other elements of Chinese culture, tea arrived around 600 AD. to Japan, where it has been intensively cultivated since the thirteenth century. Dutch merchants brought the first shipment of tea to Europe in 1610 and to North America around 1650. The transport with merchant ships, which lasted about six months, was not conducive to quality. Liselotte van der Pfaiz, who was introduced to the “frembt Zeug” tea at the French court, wrote in 1712 that “the” tasted like hay and manure and resembled a medicine. To no longer be dependent on Chinese tea supplies, the English started growing tea in India around 1830. The successful cultivation of the native Assam variety created the largest tea plantation area in the world in Northeast India. From 1880 onwards, coffee cultivation in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was replaced by tea cultivation, and the country is now the second largest producer of black tea. Tea plantations were also established in Indonesia (1878), the former Soviet Union (since 1892), Kenya (1925) and Argentina (1946), among others.

Unsuspected healing power

Green tea is obtained by heating the tea leaves and then drying them; Black tea is obtained by fermenting the withered and cut leaves at high humidity. Both teas contain caffeine; In addition, green tea contains large amounts of flavanols (catechins), flavonol glycosides and small amounts of both condensed and hydrolyzable tannins and saponins (soap substances). Black tea mainly contains tannin-like, colored oxidation products of the flavanols – in particular the chemically only partially known thearubigins; theaflavins and unchanged flavonol glycosides also occur. Both teas contain unusually high amounts of fluorides (good for healthy teeth).
Green and black tea and their ingredients have numerous properties that promote health. First of all, the inhibition of tumor formation should be mentioned, which has been proven in in vitro test systems and in laboratory animals, and which could be confirmed for some tumor types with epidemiological studies. In addition, virusstatic and bacteriostatic activities and inhibition of the HIV virus have been observed. Finally, the antioxidant properties of tea appear to have a beneficial effect on atherosclerotic (hardening of the arteries) processes. Green tea and the flavanols in it also have a blood pressure-lowering effect, inhibit blood clotting, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and appear to have a positive influence on coronary heart disease. What more do we need!

Medicinal herb and stimulant

Tea was initially used more for medicinal purposes and only later as a refreshing drink. In ancient China, an infusion of tea was recommended for tumors, abscesses, bladder diseases and lethargy, among other things. The current medicinal significance of Theae folium is limited. Monographs of the herb can only be found in older pharmacopoeias such as the Pharmacopée Frangaise VIII from 1965, the Pharmacopoea Helvetica V from 1933 or the Farmacopeia Portuguesa from 1935. However, black tea is still used as a home remedy for mild attacks of diarrhea and upset stomach.
On the other hand, the importance of tea as a stimulant has become immense, and nowadays tea is considered the most consumed drink after water. At the top of the tea drinkers are Kuwaitis with 5.23 kg per capita, and the British with 3.14 kg per head.
Just tea, an old medicine that became a pleasure drink and now seems to be becoming a healthy medicinal herb again.

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