Everywhere you turn these days, it seems as if researchers are uncovering more and more health benefits of tea. Are these benefits merely hype, or do they hint at a future where better health may be found among the tea leaves? LoveToKnow spoke with Dave De Candia, Tea Buyer, Master Tea Blender and Senior Manager of Tea at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®. Before joining The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Dave was Director of Aid for AidLankaKids.org. He's a regular speaker at the World Tea Expo and a writer for the trade journal, Tea & Coffee. Dave has worked for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for over 11 years. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is the oldest and largest privately held chain of specialty coffee and tea stores in the United States. You can also find their stores worldwide, from California to China.
What Does a Master Tea Blender Do?
As a master tea blender, I am responsible for buying and developing teas for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf as well as educating the community on all tea has to offer. That includes the health benefits of tea. I create tea and herbal blends, and I am also responsible for creating social programs in the origin countries our teas come from.
How Does One Become a Master Tea Blender?
It is important to have a passion for tea. Taking courses on tea and traveling to tea origins has been very useful throughout the years. Tasting is also key in developing a strong palate in tea. In addition, knowing the characteristics of different types of tea ingredients makes my job of creating blends more successful.
Health Benefits of Tea
There are many different types of tea on the market: black, white, and green, to name but a few. These three types come from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, and provide different flavors and colors based on the point during the plant's growth cycle the leaves and shoots are picked, as well as how the leaves are processed. If you are curious whether or not different teas have different health benefits, you'll appreciate Dave's thoughts on the benefits of each type of tea.
What Are the Main Health Benefits of Tea?
There's a lot of research to support the notion that tea provides many health benefits. Many tests demonstrate that tea catechins (ECGC) exert a hypocholesterolemic effect. This means that they can reduce cholesterol, possibly by reducing the absorption of cholesterol by the small intestine.
There's also compelling evidence that tea polyphenols may prevent carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis is the process by which cells become cancerous. Various experiments using different carcinogens, in different routes and in varying amounts, have been conducted to study the effect of catechin administration in mice or rats. Tea catechins have been proven to be effective in suppressing the development of tumors in the digestive tract, skin and other organs. The results aren't in yet for humans, but the initial round of research is very promising.
What Are the Health Benefits of Specific Teas?
Black tea provides many benefits. It's antibacterial and anti-flu. It's also anticarious. That means it prevents or inhibits dental caries, or cavities. Green tea contains a concentration of polyphenols, or catechins. Polyphenols act as a body deodorant, stop oxidation in the body and maintain freshness in beverages.
White tea, which is the other category of tea mentioned, is still being studied. There are very few long-term studies on the health benefits of white tea. Most of the health claims made about white tea are based on the fact that the tea is made from a very young bud, and so some health claims are extrapolated from health benefits of young buds. However, there's little science to back it up.
Are There Health Benefits in Other Types of Tea?
Oolong tea is worth mentioning. It's party oxidized, and contains a lesser amount of catechines and theaflavins than black tea, but some people prefer the taste.
What Research Supports the Health Benefits of Tea?
There's quite a number of studies that support the health benefits of tea, particularly green tea and extracts made from green tea. For example, human trials were conducted to confirm the effect of catechins on 21 volunteers. They received a total of 500 mg of tea catechins (in capsule form) a day, administered twice daily after breakfast and lunch, for 12 weeks. The results showed the administration of catechins lowered blood pressure significantly for both the systolic and the diastolic. This study is reported in Green Tea: Health Benefits and Applications by Yukihiko Hara.
Another study conducted in Japan found that green tea extracts could also lower blood pressure and reduce body weight, body mass index, and fat composition.
What Special Teas Does The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Company Offer?
We offer many great teas, but for health benefits I recommend green teas like our Lung Ching Dragonwell. It's revered by the Chinese for its delicate flavor and beautiful jade green color. We make it the traditional way, by pan firing the tea. It's a great way to enjoy the health benefits of green tea and it tastes wonderful.
A second tea I like to recommend for those who don't care for green tea or who simply prefer a black tea is Bogawantalawa Ceylon. Bogawantalawa Ceylon is a type of tea we buy from an estate in Sri Lanka. Because we personally go on site to the estate, we know exactly how this tea is grown. We make sure the quality meets our standards.
What Makes These Teas Special?
All of the teas at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Company are special. We visit the origin of the tea - the places where the teas are actually grown and harvested. We ensure that all of our teas meet a high standard of quality. The teas themselves contain many healthful properties. Lung Ching Dragonwell, for example, contains catechins, polyphenols and vitamin C. Bogwantalawa Ceylon is a black tea, with a high amount of catechins and polyphenols. Because of the care we take in growing, selecting, harvesting and processing the teas, they both taste fantastic.
What's the Optimal Way to Make Tea?
Start with cool, filtered water. Never reheat the water, as this can affect the taste. The best water temperature to make the perfect cup of tea is 180 degrees Fahrenheit for green tea, 185 for oolong, and 190 for black.Add one teaspoon of tea to 12 ounces of water. Green teas should steep for three minutes. Black and oolong tea should steep for about five minutes, while herbal and fruit teas and tisanes should steep for seven minutes.
Don't rush your tea. Allow it to steep for the recommended number of minutes to ensure you get the full flavor.
Does Adding Milk, Sugar or Both Reduce the Health Benefits?
Milk and sugar added to tea doesn't detract from the tea's innate benefits, but it does add unhealthy sugar and calories from both the milk and sugar. If you can adjust to the taste, it's better to leave them out.
Do the Health Benefits of Tea Change if You Make Iced Tea?
As long as you brew the tea as suggested, and don't add sugar or other additives, the health benefits of iced and hot tea are about the same. The change in temperature doesn't affect the health benefits.
What Else Would You Like to Share About the Health Benefits of Tea?
Tea is just packed with antioxidants! Two cups of regular green tea contains approximately twice the antioxidants of red wine, without the alcohol or calories. Those same two cups of green tea also have seven times the antioxidants of orange juice, and 20 times the oxidant power of apple juice. That's a lot of health benefits packed into two cups of tea!
To learn more about The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, as well as places to find their teas, please visit their website at CoffeeBean.com