Legend has it that one day in 2737 BC,Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was boiling drinking water over an open fire when leaves from a nearby tea plant fell into the pot. The emperor drank the water and declared that it gave him vigour,contentment of mind and determination of purpose.
Today that beverage consumed throughout the world is second only to water. Tea is believed to have been introduced to India around 500 AD by Prince Siddhartha,better known as Buddha. He found that tea kept him alert during meditation,so he brought the seeds to be planted in India.
In 1610 in Europe,tea was initially introduced as a medicinal brew. By the 1700s,the Dukes wife began the tradition of afternoon tea to ward off hunger pangs between lunch and dinner. Asians used it for years together as a warm welcoming beverage for guests. Before long,it became the most popular beverage,both for pleasure and medicinal purposes.
Tea contains significant amounts of folic acid,which helps reduce risk of heart diseases and cancer. A person could obtain upto 25 per cent of RDA for folic acid by drinking five cups of tea per day. Tea is also rich in fluorine,which is useful for preventing tooth decay.
Tea can be grouped into three main types,black,oolong,and green tea. Coming from the same plant,the difference between green and black tea lies in the extent of fermentation and oxidation.
Several studies have suggested that drinking either green or black tea may lower blood cholesterol concentration,blood pressure and inhibit clotting of blood.
Studies have shown that catechins in green tea are believed to be anti-oxidative,anti-inflammatory,anti-carcinogenic,anti-arteriosclerotic and induce anti-bacterial effects. Theanine,another polyphenol in green tea,is believed to help reduce stress.
A new addition to the range of teas is herbal tea. It is now available in the market and contains dried leaves of various plants other than tea. Herbal teas contain no caffeine but often have substances with soothing,stimulating or euphoric effects.
Long -term use of ginseng may produce hypertension,nervousness,sleeplessness and edema.
Ishi khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being,one should integrate physical,mental and spiritual health. According to her: To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all.