SUSTAINABILITY • CONNECTION PARENTING • INTELLIGENT LIVING
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How to make
27 / Sept - Nov 2008
he mighty cup of tea is East, plays an important role in our
T something that has been
enjoyed across cultures
for many years. In China
tea has been used as a medicine to
promote a healthy mind and body
Drinking tea not only provides
a flavourful taste experience and a
means of relaxation, but also helps
to promote good health. Today,
for about 5000 years. In Japan, in scientific research has confirmed
the fifteenth century, this medicine what those in the East believed
grew into a beverage. Tea developed for many years—that the mighty
as a way of life—a path of practice tealeaf does have wide-ranging
in search of spiritual fulfilment. health benefits.
The tea ceremony, or Chanoyu,
was based on the notion that Types of tea
we can never attain inner peace ‘Tea’ technically only comes from
What’s in a without a deliberate effort to
free ourselves from the cares and
the camellia sinensis plant, and
includes green tea, black tea,
Cup of Tea worries of the world. Chanoyu was
a means to step beyond the daily
attachments and go inward.
oolong tea, and white tea. ‘Herbal
tea’ is actually a ‘tisane’—an
infusion made from anything other
Tea was introduced to the than the leaves of the tea plant.
Western world in the early Tisanes can be made with fresh or
seventeenth century. The afternoon dried flowers, leaves, seeds, fruits,
tea party, with the delicate clatter of and roots. Tea and tisanes are
By Sarita Merlo trays and saucers and the soft rustle generally made by pouring boiling
of feminine hospitality, has played water (or near-to-boiling water for
an important function in Western green and white tea) over the plant
society since then. In more recent parts, letting them steep for a few
years, there has been a resurgence minutes, straining, and serving.
of interest in tea, with many more While all teas come from the
teahouses popping up, and many one camellia sinensis plant, they
more varieties of teas to choose all exhibit different qualities that
from. There is no denying that this have been determined by the way
brown beverage, plucked from the the tealeaves have been processed.
54 K i n d r e d Vo l 2 7 • kindredmagazine.com.au
The tea-making process may involve full further oxidation before full drying takes conducted by Harvard University and
oxidation of the tealeaf, partial oxidation, place. the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Tea
or no oxidation before it is dried, and consumption was found to lead to an
it is this that will determine the colour, Health benefits of tea increase in the number of T-cells to help
flavour, and characteristics of the tea. In 1211, the Japanese monk Eisai the body fight infection.
White tea wrote: ‘Tea is a miraculous medicine Preventing cancer
White tea is derived from the young for the maintenance of health. Tea has Many studies have indicated that green
new leaves from the tea plant in early an extraordinary power to prolong life. tea may help protect against a range of
spring. They are young leaves that Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long cancers (including prostate, lung, and
contain no chlorophyll and still have life will follow. In ancient and modern breast cancer) as well as heart disease—
silvery-white ‘hairs’ indicating new times, tea is the elixir that creates the largely due to tea’s high antioxidant
growth—hence the name ‘white’ tea. mountain dwelling immortal.’ protection. Recent research shows that
The tightly-rolled buds of the white tea Back then, it was believed that its the catechins in tea inactivate oxidants
are immediately fired or steamed after taste and stimulative properties were before cell damage occurs, reduce
letting them wither (air-dry) for a period useful for treating tumours, abscesses, the number and size of tumours, and
of time, so that they do not go through bladder ailments, and lethargy, among inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
any oxidation. other conditions. The potential health
benefits of tea consumption have been Preventing heart disease
Green tea supported by numerous scientific studies Since free radicals are a major cause
The processing of green tea is similar to in more recent years, and whilst the vast of heart disease, tea that contains
white tea in that it does not go through majority of these studies have been of antioxidants may help to inhibit or
any oxidation. After the leaves are green tea, some studies have been made reduce the risk of heart attack and
plucked, they are sometimes laid out of the other types of tea derived from stroke. Furthermore, many studies have
to dry. Then in order to neutralise the the camellia sinsensis plant, such as white, also shown that both green tea and black
enzymes thus preventing oxidation, the oolong and black tea. Some potential tea help to lower blood cholesterol levels
leaves are steamed or pan-fried. Next health benefits of drinking tea are and lower blood platelet activation,
the leaves are rolled up in various ways discussed below. which is linked to blood clotting that
and tightness before further drying takes increases the risk of heart attack.
place. The flavonoids found in tea may
Tea contains an abundant source of also improve the integrity of the blood
Black tea natural plant-derived antioxidant vessels, thereby increasing coronary
The processing of black tea requires compounds called polyphenols. In this blood flow.
full oxidation of the leaves. After the broad polyphenol class of antioxidants
leaves are plucked, they are laid out are flavonoids and catechins, which can Increasing mental alertness and
to dry for up to 24 hours. The leaves provide protective antioxidant action reducing anxiety and stress
are then rolled to crack the surface, so against harmful free radicals that can L-theanine has been known to have a
that oxygen will react with the enzymes damage DNA, cell membranes, and profound effect on the nervous system.
inside and begin the oxidation process. other cell components. While most Theanine is absorbed by the small
The leaves are left to completely oxidise, fruits and vegetables contain natural intestine and crosses the blood–brain
thus turning them to a deep black antioxidants that help combat free barrier where it influences the ‘feel-good’
colour. radicals, it is the tealeaf that boasts one neurotransmitters of the brain (serotonin
of the highest total flavonoid contents and dopamine). This, in turn, increases
Oolong tea of all plants—at 15 per cent of its dry the alpha brain-wave activity and has the
The processing of oolong tea is the weight. Green and white tea are believed effect of producing a calmer, yet more
most difficult, as it is partially oxidised to have higher antioxidant levels than alert, state of mind.
—somewhere in between the amount both oolong and black tea, due to their Furthermore, tea drinkers have been
done for green and black tea. After the differing manufacturing processes. found in a UCLA study to have lower
leaves are plucked, they are laid out to stress hormone (cortisol) levels.
dry for up to 24 hours. The leaves are Increasing metabolism
The tealeaf contains vitamins C, K, B12,
then vigorously tossed about in baskets, B6, and E and trace amounts of calcium, Clinical trials conducted by the
in order to bruise the edges of the magnesium, manganese, and potassium. University of Geneva and the University
leaves. This bruising causes the leaves of Birmingham indicate that green
to only partially oxidise because only a Boosting immune system tea raises metabolic rates, speeds up
portion of the enzymes are exposed to Tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, fat oxidation, and improves insulin
air. The leaves are then steamed in order that has been found to strengthen sensitivity and glucose tolerance. In
to neutralise the enzymes and stop any the immune system in two studies addition to caffeine, green tea contains
56 K i n d r e d Vo l 2 7 • kindredmagazine.com.au
How to make the best
cup of tea
For the best brew in a medium teapot,
place 1 teaspoon of tea or herbal
tea per cup of boiling water (220ml)
into a teapot or infuser, infuse for 5–7
minutes, strain, and serve.
Use near-to-boiling water when brewing
green or white tea—not boiling water.
of leaves (or dust) that are susceptible to becoming
• The better tasting your water, the better tasting your stale faster than the loose-leaf variety.
tea. The best water is filtered (but not distilled). • Store tea in an airtight container of a material (not
• Pre-heat the teapot or teacup to prevent the plastic) that won’t impart its flavour to the tea and will
steeping water from dropping in temperature as soon limit exposure to oxygen and moisture.
as it is poured in. Before making your tea, add a little • If making tea from whole leaves, it can be enjoyable
boiling water to your teapot or the individual cups— to steep them in a French press and watch the
wherever the tea will be steeped. Cover the teapot colours radiate from the unfolding leaves.
with the lid and a cozy, if you have one. Let stand
until the vessel is warm, then pour out the water just • Descale your kettle often to remove mineral
before making your tea in it. deposits, using vinegar, lemon juice, and bicarbonate
of soda. Avoid toxic chemicals and rinse well when
• Use the best quality tea possible—most finished.
commercially-produced bags consist of small pieces
catechins that raise thermogenesis (the obvious impacts on our health: too not enough evidence to conclude that
rate at which calories are burned) and much sugar can lead to blood sugar adding milk to tea does actually reduce
hence increases energy expenditure. fluctuations (and diabetes), weight gain, the potential health benefits.
Tea catechins may also increase exercise and lowered immune system function,
endurance by improving fat metabolism. while too much saturated fat (contained Herbal teas (tisanes)
in milk and cream) can cause other Herbal teas or tisanes exhibit wide
Adding milk to tea problems. and varied health benefits that are
There are wide and varied health Research has also found that some distinct to those attributed to tea.
benefits from drinking tea, whether it of the health benefits of drinking tea, Some commonly-known tisanes are
be black tea, green, white, or oolong. discussed above, are eliminated when peppermint, which is both cooling
However, what happens to tea when milk is added. One study conducted by and invigorating, and chamomile,
we add milk? Traditionally, in the Berlin University showed that adding which is soothing and calming. We
East, green tea was always consumed milk to tea will block the effects of tea in can make tisanes from a wide array of
without milk. It was only in the early protecting against cardiovascular disease herbs, all of which can be used for their
seventeenth century when tea (mostly because the casein in the milk binds to various effects or to help treat various
black tea) was introduced to Europe that the catechins in the tea, inactivating conditions. By infusing the herbs in
cream, milk, and sugar were considered them. Other studies have shown milk boiling water, we can extract the active
to be a tasty addition to this wonderful has little or no deleterious effects on constituents that will have the desired
beverage. the observed increase in total plasma effect on the body. A tisane is simply
These additives have various antioxidant activity. There is probably an herbal medicine that is very safe
kindredmagazine.com.au • K i n d r e d Vo l 2 7 57
and effective and in a form that we can and heat, which age or oxidise the herb Resources
actually enjoy (as opposed to a herbal or tea, making it more beneficial to our Okakura, Kakuzo, The Book of Tea, 2005, Japan.
Herb Palace, History of Herbal Medicine,
tablet or tincture). health, compared to its smaller-sized
counterpart. In Pursuit of Tea, ‘About Tea’,
Quality of tea and tisanes Whether you choose tea or tisanes www.inpursuitoftea.com , 2007
as your preferred brew, I can assure that BBC News, ‘Tea, a Healthier drink than Water?’,
The quality of tea and tisanes can vary, www.news.bbc.co.uk, 2006.
depending on the climate, location, and you will benefit from the wide-ranging Davis, Jeanie, ‘The Health Benefits of Tea’,
type of processing that the ingredients health benefits that these wonderful www.medicinenet.com, 2007.
have been through. Tealeaves are plants can offer us. Nothing But Tea, ‘Health Benefits of Tea’,
separated into the following grades: Enjoy your brew! Imperial Tea Garden, ‘Health Benefits of Tea’,
‘whole leaf ’, ‘broken leaf ’, ‘fannings’, www.imperialteagarden.com, 2003
Driven by a natural curiosity of the human body and Better Health, ‘Tea Leaves and Health’,
and ‘dust’. The tea’s taste, body, and
wholistic health, Sarita Merlo completed her studies www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au. 2007.
health properties will vary depending on at the Melbourne College of Natural Medicine in Tea Association of Canada, ‘Tea—A Healthy
the leaf size. Dust is the smallest grade 2000. Her passionate appreciation for medicinal herbs Beverage Choice’, www.tea.ca, 2006
of tea and is used in mass-marketed and their healing abilities has been the leading force
behind the creation of Byron Bay Tea Company,
teabags. Drinking whole leaf tea and
tisanes allows you to experience a wider
range of complex flavours. Being larger
in size, there is less exposure to air, light,
Kindred Partner PERSPECTIVE
the benefits come
How to make organic, from 20 per cent of
local food affordable? the purchases. Think
about what your family
eats the most of, then
As energy and food prices continue to rise, people are
go from there. If for
asking how to affordably put healthy food on their table.
example your family
With a little bit of outside-the-box thinking, and some
drinks four litres of
planning ahead, there are several ways to cut costs and
milk each week, better to go for buying the organic milk,
increase your value for money.
than the organic peanut butter. Also, if you have to choose for
One of the quickest ways to reduce your organic grocery
only certain organic items, then choose the fresh fruits and
costs by as much as 15–20 per cent is to buy in bulk. Buying
vegetables, and of course, reduce your meat intake.
from bulk bins at your local health food shop or co-op is only
Buy fruits and vegetables in season and focus on what’s
one way. But this is only part of the picture, as typically the
easily available, says Barbara Houmann, spokeswoman for the
bulk foods available are limited (ie, cereals, beans, nuts). You
Organic Trade Association. That way, she said, you may find
can also ask your local grocer or natural food shop to special-
that the prices are just about comparable with nonorganic fruits
order bulk items for you. Usually they are more than happy
to do this as for them it means they can sell many of the same
And finally, global experts predict that micro-farming will
item in one order, rather than just one. For example, instead of
boom over the next few years. New trends in urban farming,
buying just one package of Fair Trade organic coffee, you can
like vertical gardening (making use of the space created
special-order the same item in bulk, buying a 12-pack box for a
by vertical areas in gardens, using vines, trellises, etc), and
backyard chickens, can help feed households in an economical
Think about it: most of the time that you grocery shop,
and earth friendly way. There’s always enough space to grow a
you are buying the same thing over and over. So this week,
little something of your own.
make a list of all things your family purchases on a regular
basis. Then take that list to your grocer and/or health food
John Dolman is the managing director of Santos whole foods, a
shop and see what you can work out.
Kindred magazine partner and sponsor of Sustenance.
Or, form a buying club. If a bunch of people pool their
02 6684 2419 www.santostrading.com.au
grocery lists, they can often special-order directly with the store,
which can lead to much lower costs. Resources
And remember, not every single thing in your pantry Olson, Ruth. ‘How to Shop for Organic Foods Without Breaking Your
needs to be organic. ‘Pick your battles,’ says Sarah Bratnober, Budget’, Newsweek, June 14, 2007
‘Micro Generation and Micro Farming: Combating High Energy Prices, High
communications director at the Organic Valley Family of Food Prices, and Tyranny’, George Washington’s Blog, July 16, 2008
Farms. She advises following the 80/20 rule—80 per cent of
58 K i n d r e d Vo l 2 7 • kindredmagazine.com.au
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y • C O N N E C T I O N PA R E N T I N G • INTELLIGENT LIVING
Kindred o n e f a m i l y, o n e w o r l d
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