What’s in A Cup of Tea?
Tea means many things to different people in different places with different tea practices. The taste, the culture, the varietal, the pluck, the source, the steeping method, the stories…it all differs from cup to cup. One thing that we can say for certain is that for millennia tea has been utilized as a medicine.
Tea has been part of holistic advancement of well-being and counteraction of illness since it was first discovered 5000 years ago. Did you know that there used to be doctors who worked with only the tea plant as their preferred form of treatment?
Recent scientific and technological abilities to isolate constituents and explain molecular level mechanics of ancient and traditional knowledge systems can testify to the positive effects of a daily steep. Here are some of what we consider to be the top three benefits shared among all teas (and yes, when we say tea we are referring to the one and only tea plant, Camellia sinensis!)
1. Antioxidants, Vitamins + Minerals
All teas (black, green, oolong, pu-erh, and white) contain powerful phyto-nutrients which are completely unique to the tea plant. Tea is an easily absorbed source of essential vitamins and minerals. As well, antioxidants are abundant in the tea leaf in the form of polyphenols. Incredible findings show tea can both prevent and treat a myriad of health conditions. Some of the most well-known benefits of tea include anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-oxidation, anti-inflammatory properties.
2. L-Theanine: What truly sets the tea plant apart!
All traditional teas naturally contain caffeine however, unlike other caffeine-containing plants, tea is balanced by a unique amino-acid that increases relaxation called L-theanine. The tea plant is the only plant known to contain L-theanine! When working together, caffeine + L-theanine produce a gently sustained ‘relaxed alertness’ which can improve focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and uplift mood. Some studies have even found L-theanine to be immune boosting and improve sleep.
3. Mental Health & Tea Meditation
We all know the value in pausing for a 'breather' to help our interconnected mental and physical well-being. Drinking loose tea offers a simple way to incorporate mindfulness into the everyday. By drawing upon ancient origin stories of tea as a sort of moving meditation to engage the senses and open the heart, we can find more moments of comfort, presence, and peace.
No matter what type of tea, there are medicinal qualities to be found. However, as is true for all plant medicines higher quality, organically grown, as close to whole plant as possible, well stored, and fresher teas will contain more medicine.
Although the tea experience may appear very different all around the world, tea is a wonderful example of how we can bring together well-established findings of peer-reviewed scientific publications with millennia of traditional medicine systems around the world to support the shared well-being of both humans and nature.