Tea Education


 
    The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is native to the eastern and southern regions of Asia. It was in China that tea first became popular as a drink. By the 3rd century
B.C., tea consumption was widespread throughout China, and was slowly spreading to neighboring Asian countries. Tea was introduced to European countries in the 16th century A.D. as a drink for the upper classes. It was not until the 19th century A.D. that tea was consumed commonly by the average Westerner. Today, tea is second only to water as the most popular drink in the world. It is a vital drink in most cultures, offered at most gatherings and social occasions.



 
    While once grown only in China, tea is now cultivated in numerous countries around the world. China is still by far the world’s largest tea producer, with India a distant second. The prerequisite climatic requirements of year-round mild weather and ample rainfall eliminate many countries as potential tea producers, with the geographic band within the sub-tropic zone offering the ideal conditions for tea cultivation. The labor intensive cultivation process creates an additional challenge, discouraging tea cultivation in many developed countries with higher labor costs.



 
    As previously mentioned, tea is today the second most popular drink in the world, second only to water. Different types of tea are consumed in different parts of the world. In China and neighboring Asian countries, green and oolong teas are the preferred drinks. Heading west from India, preferences change towards black tea. In almost all Middle Eastern countries, black tea is an integral aspect of all social gatherings and is offered to guests at all occasions. 
European countries have predominantly consumed black tea as well, but green tea has gained in popularity in recent years as research has revealed the greater health benefits of green tea. Heading further west towards the United States and Canada, tea is mainly consumed in the form of iced tea. Here again, consumptions habits are changing in favor of green tea due to similar health concerns.




 
 
    At Lanna Tea, our motivation is to promote our teas and herbal infusions in order to support the good health of our customers. We forego pretentious sounding teas and exotic sounding blends, and choose instead to focus on sourcing high quality teas and developing well-known blends that make the drinking experience more enjoyable and healthful. Most people are now aware of the health benefits of the tea leaf. Very few people, however, are familiar with three other plants with similar benefits. Plants such as mulberry, jiaogulan, and banaba have only recently been recognized in the West for their numerous health benefits. People in the Far East have for centuries known of the beneficial effects of these plants and used their dried leaves for medicinal purposes.




 
 
    Tea (Camellia sinensis) has recently been recognized by Western countries as a potent herb with numerous health benefits. The
most commonly recognized benefit of tea is as a powerful antioxidant. Green tea has a higher concentration of antioxidants, especially when the hand-picked newly sprouted leaf is used. At Lanna Tea, we use only the hand-picked newly sprouted leaves in all our tea products. Antioxidants are essential in helping the body protect itself from the damaging effects of free radicals. It is believed that the consumption of 
antioxidants found in tea helps the body to fend off cardiovascular disease, cellular damage, and various forms of cancer.
 
    Studies have found that regular tea consumption helps to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The high concentration of flavonoids found in tea is also believed to improve the body’s natural immune system, thereby helping to prevent illness. Research has also shown tea to aid in weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolic rate while at the same time reducing fat absorption in the digestive system.
 
    Tea is also known for its calming effect. The presence of the amino acid L-Theanine impacts the central nervous system by promoting a sense of serenity and calm without diminishing alertness and focus.




 
 
    Known as the immortality drug by the Chinese, the jiaogulan herb (gynostemma pentaphyllum) has been used as a medicinal plant in the majority of East Asian countries. The benefits of jiaogulan are believed to include the following: powerful antioxidant, blood pressure regulator, improved immune response, tumor suppressant, and blood sugar control.
 
    The herb is touted as a powerful adaptogen due to its ability to help reduce damages to the body from environmental factors. Jiaogulan contains many of the same beneficial compounds found in ginseng, and is often used as an alternative to ginseng.
 
    Studies have shown that the use of jiaogulan increases the body’s endogenous cellular antioxidant levels. It also helps to improve the body’s natural immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells and killer cells, thereby helping to reduce illness and tumor growth.
 
    Research studies in China have shown jiaogulan’s effectiveness in controlling blood pressure. The plant was observed to reduce triglyceride and LDL (harmful) cholesterol levels, while at the same time raising HDL (beneficial) cholesterol levels.
 
    The plant is also useful in regulating blood pressure. It acts by stimulating the release of nitric oxide by heart cells, thereby helping to reduce blood pressure. Studies have shown jiaogulan to be more effective than ginseng in helping regulate blood pressure.
 
    Another benefit of the plant is in helping control blood sugar levels in people suffering from diabetes. Jiaogulan promotes the body’s natural glucose production and improves glucose tolerance. The naturally sweet taste of the plant also means that no sugar needs to be added when jiaogulan is consumed as an herbal infusion.
 
    For centuries, the Chinese have been using the leaves of the mulberry plant for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Mulberry leaf extract contains a compound known as corosolic acid, which aids in stimulating glucose transport into cells. Studies have also demonstrated that compounds in the mulberry leaf restrict the amount of sugar that passes from the intestines into the blood stream. By controlling sugar levels and insulin, the mulberry leaf also helps to promote weight loss without a change in diet habits.
 
    Further research studies have uncovered that the mulberry leaf has antioxidant behaviors and can help lower total cholesterol and LDL (harmful) cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (beneficial) cholesterol levels. In addition, the leaf has been shown to help suppress the buildup of plaque in the arteries.





 
 
    The banaba tree is native to Southeast Asia, where it has been used for centuries as a traditional herbal remedy to relieve abdominal pain, control blood sugar levels in diabetics, and as an anti-inflammatory agent. The banaba leaf has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and to moderate blood sugar levels by regulating glucose metabolism. Clinical trials have demonstrated the banaba leaf’s ability to reduce glucose levels in type II diabetes. Other potential benefits of the banaba leaf are the lowering of blood cholesterol levels as well as the cleansing of the liver. The leaf can also help to curb appetite, thus promoting weight loss. It also has antioxidant properties that help protect cells against damage from free radicals.