Musings on Tea & Health Benefits

One of my fundamental stand is that I sell tea not health benefits. Of course I believe there are health implications to drinking tea- both good and bad- and that I am bothered by the health implications of them doesn’t mean that I care any less about the taste and quality of the tea I consume.

Is it a hallmark of a true tea drinker to be hedonistic to the point of martyrdom- he died from over-consumption of tea, what a way to go!

Perhaps it’s age, perhaps it’s having a child to care for, I examine the health implications of everything I consume- including tea. Tea is an excellent choice for me because it doesn’t force me to choose between health and gastronomic delight. That doesn’t mean if today there was irrefutable evidence that rooibos (yes I am aware its not true tea i.e. camellia sinensis) would enable to live forever and be a fountain of youth and what not, I would say

“I’m in no way interested in immortality but only in the taste of tea”

Yet because I drink so much tea- on average 1-2 litres of tea- per day, I do care a lot about the implications. Often its a matter of observing certain consumption habits:

i) Don’t consume tea that has cooled- ‘chilling’ in TCM nomenclature and damaging to stomach

ii) Don’t consume tea half an hour before and after tea- hinders iron absorption

iii) No more than 15 g of tea per day

and so forth.

At the same time, being a recent convert to Traditional Chinese Medicine, I try to keep in mind balance and the TCM nature of teas. My choice of tea often is influenced by my constitution which is heaty in TCM nomenclature and I often try to include green/white/yellow tea in my daily consumption.

Suffice it to say, I believe that different teas have different health implications.

At the same time I don’t advocate that anyone should drink any particular type of tea for its health benefits alone. This implies that these teas are not worthy of appreciation on their own gastronomic merits which is ludicrous.

Some advocate green/white for antioxidants, oolong/puer for weight loss which seems to imply only black tea is worthy of consumption for taste reasons alone- an assertion that is about as far from the truth as you can get.

Unfortunately many low quality varieties of the aforementioned categories of tea flood the market which frankly are no worse than bad black teas except it is ‘socially acceptable’ to mask bad black teas with milk and sugar.

A decent quality green tea is sweet and refreshing, a white is subtler but also sweet, a puer is  smooth while a decent oolong is fragrant, delightfully pleasing in so many different ways depending on which style it is.

None of them are in any way less pleasing to the palate than black tea.

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2 Responses to Musings on Tea & Health Benefits

  1. nwwuwotea says:

    Your perspective is so interesting (and has such a rich history)! I’m used to the American claims/alarms about the properties of tea on health. It’s nice to hear the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. Thank you.

  2. Steph W says:

    PS – that – that last post was really from me. (Steph)

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