Habitat & Cultivation : Cultivated principally in India, Sri Lanka and China, tea has been grown since the earliest times.
Parts Used : Leaves, buds.
Constituents : Tea contains xanthines, caffeine (1-5%), theobromine, tannins including polyphenols, flavonoids, fats and vitamin C. Green tea contains significant levels of polyphenols; black tea, which is produced by a process of fermentation, has lower levels.
History & Folklore : In China and Japan many rituals have developed around tea drinking. Significantly it is mostly green tea that is drunk in this way.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : The astringent properties of tea make it valuable in addressing digestive infections by tightening the mucous membranes of the gut and reducing looseness. A concentrated tea infusion can be applied to alleviate irritated eyelids, insect stings, swellings, and sunburn. In emergency situations, when alternative remedies are unavailable, tea serves as a practical treatment for minor burns. Within Ayurvedic medicine, tea is regarded as both astringent and a nerve tonic. The caffeine content in tea may offer relief from headaches, although its efficacy is somewhat less than that of coffee. Notably, research highlights the health benefits of green tea over black tea.
Research : The robust antioxidant activity of green tea can be attributed to its polyphenols, which contribute to its potential as a preventive measure against cancer. The widespread consumption of green tea in China and Japan is believed to play a role in the relatively low incidence of cancer in these regions. Clinical trials suggest that green tea may aid in weight loss, be beneficial in treating hepatitis, and potentially contribute to preventing tooth decay. Recent research also indicates a genoprotective action of green tea, helping to forestall degenerative changes in the body and potentially slowing the aging process. In a 2013 clinical trial, it was observed that green tea extract, taken by women for four months, successfully reduced the size of uterine fibroids.