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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese tea’

White Tea and Chronic Disease

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 7, 2009

Cancer Prevention

Flavonoids, which are a class of antioxidants that are found in white tea, can help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the development of new ones. With the protective power of flavonoids, white tea can be a potent preventative measure against different types of cancer, such as colon, prostate, and stomach cancers.

Strengthens Bones

Studies have found that people who drank tea regularly had greater bone density and strength than non-drinkers. Also, due to the potent cocktail of antioxidants found in white tea, it may also have beneficial effects for sufferers of arthritis and osteoporosis.

Decreases Blood Pressure

Studies show that white tea can thin the blood and improve artery function – this is mainly due to a combination of the various antioxidants found in white tea, which can neutralize free radicals that can damage the circulatory system. By promoting strong and healthy blood vessels, white tea can also guard against the ravages of strokes. Because white tea contains the vasodilator theobromine, it helps lower high blood pressure and maintains a healthy circulatory system.

Improves Cholesterol Profile

Catechins, another group of antioxidants, have been found to reduce cholesterol, and white tea is simply loaded with them. Cholesterol is a special type of fat and is necessary for health. There is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, and the catechins in white tea increases the good while decreasing the bad.

Heart Protection

Researchers have previously discovered that people who drink 2 or more cups of tea a day are almost 50% less likely to die after suffering a heart attack. Combined with its ability to improve cholesterol levels, white tea is truly a remarkable heart tonic.

Healthy Teeth and Gums

Amazingly, white tea contains small amounts of fluoride and other nutrients which keeps the teeth strong and healthy. Also, due to the anti-microbial effects of its antioxidants (see below), white tea also kills the bacterium which causes plaque, tooth decay, and bad breath. A 2004 study at Pace University concluded that fluoride-rich white tea helps prevent the growth of dental plaque, the chief cause of tooth decay.

Healthy Skin

If you’re stressed out, have a poor diet, or stay out in the sun too long, free radicals can greatly accumulate in your skin, damage it, and cause it to prematurely age! As you might have guessed, drinking white tea promotes healthy and radiant skin because it is chocked-full of many different types of antioxidants that scavenge these free radicals. Therefore, white tea can help protect your skin and helps to reverse some of the damage induced by free radicals.

Antibacterial & Antiviral

One of the most remarkable effects of white tea is that it is a natural killer of bacteria and viruses. Overall, the antioxidants in white tea are so abundant that they boost the entire immune system, providing protection against a variety of invaders. Need another reason to drink white tea? A 2004 study concluded that white tea can help your body’s immune system fight off viruses –  including the common cold and flu – and dangerous infection-causing bacteria.

Stress Relief and Other Health Benefits

If all that isn’t enough, white tea even reduces stress!  It has a higher concentration of the amino acid theanine (which has relaxing and mood enhancing properties) than either green tea or black tea!

Finally, one study examining the composition of brewed green and white teas found that white tea contained more gallic acid (a potent anti-oxidant with anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-cancer properties) and theobromine (an alkaloid that causes vasodilatation, or blood vessel widening, which can help increase circulation).

Clearly, with all of the aforementioned health benefits of drinking this brew, white tea is a potent addition to any health conscious consumer’s diet – moreover, all of the varieties of white tea have a sweet, silky flavour. In comparison to green tea, people that have tasted both teas note that white tea lacks a “grassy” aftertaste so often associated with green tea. Also, as we’ve already discovered, the antioxidant content of white tea far surpasses that of green tea. So, if you’re already a green tea devotee, or you’re just being introduced to the wonderful world of Camellia sinensis, then white tea is an extremely nourishing and tasty brew which is enormously beneficial to your health!

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Oolong Tea: Other Health Benefits

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 7, 2009

In addition to its weight loss benefits, oolong tea has gained immense popularity for its many health benefits – in fact, there are hundreds of studies done on the various benefits of oolong tea.

Firstly, oolong tea promotes general health and well-being since it contains a large quantitiy of polymerized polyphenols which have been shown to:

• promote strong, healthy teeth;
• improve cognitive functioning and mental well-being;
• prevent eczema, allergies;
• clarify skin aberrations, giving it a healthy, radiant look
• strengthen immune system

Cancer Prevention
Again, oolong tea has long been consumed in Chinese society for centuries, and has been consumed for its many health benefits – nowadays, many recent studies have shown that oolong tea can help reduce the risk of cancer, and in some cases it has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

In one study, researchers found that oolong tea polyphenol extract (OTPE) induced apoptosis (programmed cell-death) in human stomach cancer cells – this means that the OTPE was able to trigger a genetic program in these stomach cancer cells which caused them to die. Moreover, another study found that oolong tea contains the compound chafuroside, which is a new flavone derivative – chafuroside has been found to be a strong anti-inflammatory compound, and the same study found that chafuroside from oolong tea maybe a good chemopreventive agent against colon cancer.

Anti-aging
Not so surprisingly, there are numerous studies that demonstrate the anti-aging benefits of oolong tea. In fact, one study performed on older Chinese adults found that regular consumption of oolong tea is associated with lowered risk of age-related cognitive impairment and decline. The study involved 2501 subjects over 55 years old, and they found that total oolong tea intake was significantly associated with a lower prevalence of cognitive impairment.

A 2001 Japanese study found that drinking 1 litre of wulong tea a day can take 2 years off the internal organ ‘age’. To point out the weight loss benefits of oolong tea, researchers also reported that out of the 11 participants, 9 experienced 2 centimetres reduction in their waist size and 8 experienced 2 centimetres reduction in their upper arms. Finally, they also observed lower bad cholesterols levels (LDL levels).

Antioxidants
Oolong tea also contains high concentrations of antioxidants which are beneficial for your health. Here’s a list of all the wonderful things antioxidants do for your body:

– Helps inhibit growth of cancer cells
– Reduce high blood pressure.
– Protection against getting a stroke.
– Improved blood flow to the heart.
– Reduce cholesterol.
– Helps inhibit the formation of blood clots in artery walls.
– Maintains even blood sugar levels.
– Lowers the risk for osteoporosis.
– Enhances immune function and helps fight infections.
– Inhibits the growth of bacteria that can cause gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.

Reduces Blood Pressure
Oolong tea has also been shown in studies to reduce the risk of hypertension – in fact, many of these studies come from Chinese research done on various segments of the Chinese tea drinking population. One study measured the risk of newly diagnosed hypertension in 1507 subjects aged 20 years and older. In this study, researchers found that the risk of developing hypertension was reduced by 46% for subjects who drank 120 to 599ml of oolong tea per day – staggeringly, for subjects who drank more than 600ml of tea, the risk of hypertension was reduced by 65%.

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Oolong Tea and Weight Loss

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 7, 2009

Even in traditional tea drinking countries like China and Japan, oolong tea has a well-known and lasting reputation for helping people to keep slim. Overall, oolong tea promotes weight loss through three different mechanisms, as seen below:

–         Increasing basal metabolic rate

–         Burning fat (through a process called lipolysis)

–         Blocking dietary fat absorption

Again, the Chinese have long believed that oolong tea is beneficial in reducing and maintaining weight. In fact, a 1998 Chinese study involving 102 females showed that continuous consumption of oolong tea for six weeks resulted in a reduction of body weight – of course, this study spurred further research.

Subsequently, Dr. William Rumpler, a physiologist at the US Agriculture Research Services’ Diet and Human Laboratory, investigated the ancient Chinese belief that oolong tea is effective in controlling body weight. The 2001 study measured how oolong tea influences energy expenditure (EE) and included 12 male volunteers who were given 4 separate beverage formulas over three consecutive days. The four beverage formulas were:  1) full strength oolong tea, 2) caffeinated water with caffeine equal to full strength oolong tea, 3) half strength oolong tea and 4) non caffeinated water.

After twenty-four hours, the energy expenditure (EE) of the participants was measured and resulted in:

EE levels of about 3% higher when they drank either the full strength oolong tea or the caffeinated water versus the non caffeinated water.
Participants burned an average of 67 more calories per day when drinking the full strength oolong tea.
Participants increased fat oxidation (‘lipolysis’ or fat burning) by a whopping 12% after consuming the full strength oolong tea versus the caffeinated water.
This data confirms that a component other than caffeine is responsible for promoting the preferential use of fat as an energy source.

The increase in fat oxidation in this study is amazing! Drinking oolong tea can actually tell your body to burn fat as an energy source!

Moreover, a 2003 Japanese study went one step further by comparing the benefits of oolong tea and green tea regarding weight reduction. In this well controlled study, eleven healthy young female student participants received three different beverage formulas: 1) oolong tea, 2) powdered green tea leaves and 3) water.

After all of the measurements were taken, the results determined that:

Oolong tea had higher energy expenditure (EE) levels from beginning to end and at intervals of 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes.
EE levels peaked at 90 minutes for both oolong and green tea and remained at their respective levels until 120 minutes.
These results indicate that for up to two hours after consuming oolong tea, you will expend more energy than if you were to drink green tea or water.

Additionally, the concentrations of caffeine, catechins, and other polyphenols were measured producing these intriguing findings;

The caffeine content was much higher in the green tea versus the oolong tea.
The concentration of polymerized polyphenols was significantly higher in the oolong tea versus the green tea.

These findings show that it’s the polymerized polyphenols that link tea to burning fat, not just the caffeine – again, the concentrations of polymerized polyphenols are highest in oolong tea. Furthermore, the rest of the chemical compounds compared in the oolong and green teas were similar or equal to one another with no marked differences – this reinforces the result that the polymerized polyphenols principally contributed to the lipolytic effect of oolong tea.

Finally, oolong tea’s effect on blocking the absorption of fats and carbohydrates is thought to play a key role in its weight reducing benefits – in fact, oolong tea is a popular accompaniment for greasy food in Asia for that very same reason. Now, scientists have proven that it is an effective fat blocker. A study conducted by the University of Tokushima found that drinking oolong tea can double the amount of fat being excreted. During the study, tweleve young Japanese adults participated in the 17-day program, consisting of 10 days of washout (drinking nothing but water) and 7 days of treatment (drinking oolong tea). The scientists found that fat excretion was twice as high for those who consumed oolong tea compared to the placebo.

Overall, oolong tea promotes weight loss through increasing basal metabolic rate (energy expenditure), increasing lipolysis, and blocking the dietary absorption of fat. Just by drinking this tasty brew, you can help yourself on the way to a healthier, slimmer you!

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Matcha Tea: Cancer Prevention

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 7, 2009

Again, antioxidants are found in many foods including fruits and vegetables – however, not all antioxidants are created equal.

The class of antioxidants known as catechins are only found in green tea, and they are easily among the most potent. Of the catechins themselves, EGCg (epicgallocatechin gallate) is the catechin with broadest and most potent cancer-fighting properties – numerous studies have shown that it’s free radical neutralizing power is able to help prevent various types of cancer, including pancreatic, stomach, kidney, and liver cancers.

Sixty percent of the catechin content of matcha tea is EGCg – overall, one gram of matcha contains 105 mg of total catechin content, roughly 61% of which is EGCg!

Energy, Relaxation, and Focus:

Much like coffee, matcha can give you an energy boost – that is, without any jittery side effects. However, unlike caffeine from coffee, matcha contains a mild stimulant known as theophylline – unlike the caffeine found in coffee, drinking matcha releases smaller dosages of theophylline over a much longer period of time. Actually, this slower release is caused by matcha containing an abundance of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals – this slows the absorption of theophylline into the blood stream, allowing for a continual release of energy over a period of 3 to 6 hours.

Moreover, the amino acids called theanines found in matcha are found virtually exclusive to green tea. Interestingly, research now suggests that the consumption of theanines may help to produce more alpha waves in the brain – briefly, alpha waves are the same brain waves that are created when you have a massage or relax in a hot bath. Overall, theanines trigger the brain to feel more relaxed and to reduce the feeling of stress.

Finally, many people comment on matcha’s ability to help provide sustained focus and feelings of lucidness – intriguingly, the Buddhist monks were the first to harness the power of matcha for this reason. For example, Buddhist monks often meditate for 3 to 6 hours at a time – after drinking matcha, the mild stimulation from theophylline keeps them awake and alert, while the theanines allowed the monks to focus, relax and concentrate on their training.

Detoxifying Agent

Over many years, numerous scientific studies have shown that chlorophyll, the pigment which gives leaves their green color, helps to remove poisonous heavy metals and various chemical toxins from the body.

Again, unlike tea leaves which are infused then discarded, and matcha powdered tea is fully ingested when consumed – since matcha is shade grown, a process which greatly increases the chlorophyll content in the leaves, matcha is an extremely chlorophyll-rich food.

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Health Benefits of Matcha

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 6, 2009

Put bluntly, the health benefits of Matcha are extensive – by and large, Matcha is disproportionately healthier than all teas, including regular green teas. Intriguingly, the amazing health benefits of matcha are derived by the virtue of how it is consumed; unlike steeped teas, where the nutrients are dissolved into the water and then the leaves are removed, drinking matcha tea requires that one consumes the ground leaves whole. Overall, when it comes to steeped teas, only between 5% and 15% of its original dry weight in nutrients is consumed – however, when drinking matcha tea, one consumes 100% of it.

tea cupsOne cup of matcha tea is the equivalent of 10 to 15 cups of green tea in terms of both its nutritional value and antioxidant content (depending on quality). I’m sure that you’re familiar with the antioxidant properties of many different foods, including orange juice – however, by comparison, matcha contains approximately 70 times the antioxidants found in orange juice!

In addition to being loaded with antioxidants, matcha tea is also extremely nutritious – it contains iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a host of other minerals. As for vitamins, the matcha contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin U (S-Methylmethionine), Vitamin P (Bioflavonoids) as well as others like thiamine (Vitamin B1) and folate (Vitamin B9).

I’m sure you’ve at least heard about the amazing health benefits of green tea – this includes its apparent ability to mitigate some symptoms of cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and the role of its antioxidants in preventative medicine. However, the vast majority of these studies are predicated on subjects consuming between 5 to 10 cups of fresh green tea a day! For most North Americans, this amount is unfeasible to achieve at best – on the other hand, given that one cup of matcha equals roughly between 10 to 15 cups of regular green tea, this condition is satisfied in one cup!

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Matcha Preparation

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 6, 2009

japan tea gardenIn general, there are two ways to prepare matcha:

  1. Usucha (‘thin tea’): is prepared with half a teaspoon of matcha and about 2.5 oz of fresh hot water which can be whisked for frothiness. Usucha is lighter and slightly more bitter.
  2. Koicha (‘thick tea’): requires as many as 6 teaspoons of matcha powder and 3/4 cup water. Koicha requires a slower stirring motion which does not produce the foam. Koicha is a sweeter tea.

To prepare a standard serving of matcha, put two tea scoops (approx. 1.25g to 2g) or ½ a level teaspoon of matcha tea into a bowl – afterwards, take between 1 to 6 oz of hot water (depending on preference) that was once boiled and now cooled to 80 oC, and pour it into the bowl. Now, take a bamboo whisk and gently whisk the tea until a fine froth develops on the surface.

For those that do not have access to a bamboo whisk, the process is a bit more involved; you must add a droplet of water into the bowl with the tea to make a thick paste first, and then slowly add water while stirring to eventually dilute the tea to one’s preference.

Overall, determine the sweetness and general flavour of the matcha will depend on when the leaves are harvested – generally, matcha that was harvested later in the year will have less flavour and sweetness as opposed to matcha harvested earlier in the year (which is considered the highest grade).

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History of Matcha

Posted by Susan Lutfallah on June 6, 2009

Broadly speaking, all Japanese teas are green – matcha is green tea leaves that have been ground to a fine powder, hence the translation ma (ground) cha (tea). However, since matcha drinkers consume the entire leaf, rather than steeping the tea and throwing out the leaves, they truly secure its energy and health benefits – actually, drinking the entire ground leaf makes it possible for one cup of matcha tea to equal 10 cups of regular green tea!

Historically, matcha tea was first introduced in the Song Dynasty of Southern China – in 1191, matcha was brought to Japan by a Zen Buddhist monk named Eisai. Intriguingly, due to the Mongol invasions of the Song, the powdered style of drinking green tea was lost in China – however, Japan, whose forces were successful at repelling the Mongol invasions of the time, managed to hold onto the matcha tradition. Indeed, matcha tea and its consumption has changed very little since the days of Eisai, which reflects a nearly thousand-year-old tradition that is now making its way into North America.

Although matcha is popular in all of Japan, it is primarily grown in three major areas: Aichi, Kyoto and Shizuoka – however, Aichi is Japan’s principal production region for premium matcha. Interestingly, the city of Nishio in the Aichi region is located far from the major urban centers – many matcha enthusiasts in Japan argue that this allows for the clean air and mountain waters to create the highest quality tea plants.

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