Wishing you all a peaceful and joyous Ramadan.

Makings of a cup of tea

(Picture courtesy of Caroline at flickr.com.)

After doing a lot of discussing last Sunday of coffee, it’s only fair that this week I put up a chance to talk about tea. There are times when tea is perfect, and I particularly like the herbal teas.

Some of us have our tea with milk, others with lemon, and many sweeten it. Iced tea is a southern institution, as well. In some countries, the making and serving of tea are associated with elaborate ceremonies, and High Tea is a lovely practice that demands special finger foods to accompany the late day drink.

Tea has much to recommend it, and has a lot of good health benefits.

Tea originated in China as a medicinal drink.[6] It was first introduced to Portuguese priests and merchants in China during the 16th century.[7]Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the 17th century. The British introduced it to India, in order to compete with the Chinese monopoly on the product.[8]

Tea has long been promoted for having a variety of positive health benefits. Recent studies suggest that green tea may help reduce the risk ofcardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, promote oral health, reduce blood pressure, help with weight control, improve antibacterial and antivirasic activity, provide protection from solar ultraviolet light,[9] and increase bone mineral density. Green tea is also said to have “anti-fibrotic properties, and neuroprotective power.”[10] Additional research is needed to “fully understand its contributions to human health, and advise its regular consumption in Western diets.”[10]

Tea catechins have known anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, help regulate food intake, and have an affinity for cannabinoid receptors, which may suppress pain and nausea and provide calming effects.[11]

Consumption of green tea is associated with a lower risk of diseases that cause functional disability, such as “stroke, cognitive impairment, and osteoporosis” in the elderly.[12][13]

Tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid whose consumption is mildly associated with a calm but alert and focused, relatively productive (alpha wave-dominant) mental state in humans. This mental state is also common to meditative practice.[14]

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Tea contains a large number of possibly bioactive chemicals, including flavonoidsamino acidsvitamins, caffeine and several polysaccharides, and a variety of health effects have been proposed and investigated.[22] It has been suggested that green and black tea may protect against cancer,[45]though the catechins found in green tea are thought to be more effective in preventing certain obesity-related cancers such as liver and colorectal cancer,[46] while both green and black teas may protect against cardiovascular disease.[45]

Negative effects of tea drinking are centered around the consumption of sugar used to sweeten the tea. Those who consume very large quantities ofbrick tea may experience fluorosis.[47]

Numerous recent epidemiological studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of green tea consumption on the incidence of human cancers. These studies suggest significant protective effects of green tea against oral, pharyngeal, oesophageal, prostate, digestive, urinary tract, pancreatic, bladder, skin, lung, colon, breast, and liver cancers, and lower risk for cancer metastasis and recurrence.[45]

A chamomile tea will soothe you through troubled times, and mint tea can be good enough for a dessert.