Friday, August 14, 2009

Tea for Pleasure and Medicinal Uses

Originally, tea came from China. Now, the Island of Ceylon produces most of the tea in the world, though China, India are major producers, too.

Basic Classifications of Tea

The are three basic classifications of tea: 1) black tea; 2) green tea; and 3) oolong tea. Black tea is considered by some to be the best quality tea. The dark color comes from oxidation. Black teas include Ceylon, Darjeeling, English Breakfast, and Lapsang and Souchong. Green teas are naturally green in color and have not been oxidized. The two main types of green teas are Basket Fired and Gunpowder. Oolong teas are partially oxidized, which makes the leaves a combination of green and brown. The two types of Oolong teas are Formosa Oolong and Jasmine.

Tea has been traditionally used as both refreshment and as medicine. Teas have been used in home remedies for everything from insect bites, to blisters, to burns, to weight loss. Unfortunately, there are some teas that are highly toxic and should not be used without medical supervision.

Toxic Teas

Toxic teas include: buckthorn, burdock, comfrey, foxglove, groundsel, hops, jimsonweed, kava-kava, mandrake, meliot, nutmeg, oliander, pokeweed, sassafras, senna, thorn apple, tonka bean, and woodruff. The physical effects of these teas run the gamut from causing diarrhea to causing liver problems to causing heart arrhythmias to causing hemorrhage to causing cancer. Again, not teas you should ever use without a competent medical professional's supervision.

Calming Teas

On the other side of that coin, many teas are relaxing, calming, and healthy for you. Tannins in green and black teas have been identified in helping prevent cancers due to the antioxidant polyphenols these teas contain. Chamomile tea is great for relaxing nerves, and will help calm over-stimulated children. Black tea, with about half the caffeine of coffee, is a refreshing drink anytime of the day.

Rosemary Gladstar's book of Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health has some great recipes for homemade herbal teas, and includes information about medicinal uses and doses for adults and children. Full color photographs help you identify herbs in the wild.

Hmmm, think I'll go set up my electric kettle and make a fresh cup of my favorite, Earl Grey.

Image credit: seriousfun

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