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What is Tea?
A Brief History of Tea
What Tea to Serve
Caffeine Info
Nutritional Info
Yerba Mate


What is Tea?

Tea is a natural plant called Camellia sinensis, which is an evergreen plant of the Camellia family. It has smooth, shiny pointed leaves, and the flowers, which resemble the buttercup in shape, are white. The plant looks similar to the privet hedge leaf that can be found in British gardens. Camellia sinensis is indigenous to China and India, but there are more than 1,500 teas to choose from and tea is grown in more than 30 countries. It differs in taste and character due to the region in which it is grown, type of soil of the region, type of climate conditions in the region, the processing methods utilized and the additions (i.e., flowers, fruit, oils, herbs and/or spices). Altitude also plays a factor in taste and character, the higher the altitude the slower the crop grows, but the quality will generally be better. Only the bud and the 2 top leaves from the stalk are picked for processing. It takes 4.5 kilos (approximately 10 1/2 lbs) of green leaf to make 1 kilo (approximately 2 lbs) of black or green tea.

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A Brief History of Tea

The origin of tea has several versions

Chinese Version:
According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 BC the legendary Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was strolling through his garden, as his servant heated water for his customary cup of boiled water. A leaf from a nearby bush drifted into the water. Rather than take it out, Shen Nung left the leaf in the water and watched with fascination as it tinted his clear water. He tasted the brown colored liquid and found it refreshing. Emperor Shen Nung was a scholar and herbalist and he experimented with tea, eventually declaring it a medicinal drink.

India Version:
A Chinese scholar named Gan Lu, who lived during the Later Han Dynasty (A.D. 25 - 221), went to India to study Buddhism. When he returned to China, he brought back him newfound belief in Buddhism and tea.

Japanese Version:
In 727 A.D. legend has it tea was presented to Emperor Shomu as an official gift from the Chinese T'ang Court. While tea did spread into Japan widespread cultivation was disrupted when the country entered into civil wars and was cut off from China for over 400 years. Tea seeds were said to have been planted in the Imperial Gardens in Heian (Kyoto) in 794 A.D. In the year 900 A.D. tea was brought to Japan by monks who had visited China to study Buddhism. In the year 1191 A.D. Japan renews trade with China and the Buddhists have a ritual of sharing tea that will later become the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Widespread tea drinking becomes popular among the Japanese masses in the 1400s A.D.

As you can see the spread of tea cultivation throughout China and Japan can largely be accredited to the movement of Buddhist priests throughout the regions.

Introduction to the U.S. :
In the year 1658 tea is served and sold publicly for the first time. In the year 1660 tea is introduced by the Dutch colonists to America in the settlement called New Amsterdam, which later became New York. The same year England levied the first tax on tea. This tea tax was one of the factors that lead to American resistance to British rule and ultimately the Boston Tea Party in December 16, 1773.

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What Tea to Serve

English Breakfast
(fried foods, eggs, smoked fish, ham, bacon)
Ceylon Pekoe, English Breakfast, Assam, Darjeeling
Continental Breakfast (breads, cheese, jams) Ceylon Pekoe, Assam, Darjeeling
Light Savory Meals and Brunch Ceylon Pekoe, Assam, Darjeeling, Green, Oolong
Meat and Game Earl Grey, Jasmine
Poultry Darjeeling, Oolong, Jasmine
Fish Darjeeling, Oolong, Earl Grey, Green
Spicy Foods Ceylon Pekoe, Darjeeling, Oolong, Green, Jasmine
Tea Time All Teas
Strong Cheeses Earl Grey, Green
After A Meal Darjeeling, Green, Oolong

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caffeine / caf feine / ka-'fen
a bitter white alkaloid (organic compound found in seed plants) found especially in coffee and tea, used as a stimulant or diuretic.

The amount of caffeine in tea or coffee depends on a number of factors, including the variety of tea leaf or coffee bean, where it is grown, particle size used (i.e., tea leaf cut or the particular coffee " grind "), and the method and length of brewing or steeping. With tea, studies have shown the leaf location on the tea plant affects the content of caffeine in the leaf and the smaller the tea leaf, the stronger the extraction of caffeine. Fermentation is also a factor, the longer the tea leaves have been fermented, the greater their caffeine content. All these factors contribute to the reasons why the reported caffeine content in published literature is somewhat varied.

A true tea (camellia sinensis) contains a small amount of naturally occurring caffeine. There is approximately 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup of tea or approximately 1/3-1/2 less the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. A good rule of thumb, the lighter the tea, the shorter the brewing time, the less caffeine. For those individuals that like the "pick-me-up" of caffeine, you will find it in a good tea, but you will not experience the usual edginess one experiences with coffee.

One of the more confusing aspects of caffeine content is the fact that coffee contains less caffeine than tea when measured in its dry form. However, the caffeine content of a prepared cup of coffee is significantly higher than the caffeine content of a prepared cup of tea.

There is also a common misperception that decaffeinated tea does not contain caffeine. However, this is not the case, as decaffeinated tea still contains about 3% of its original caffeine content. Decaffeinated teas are typically more expensive due to the fact the tea leaves usually need to be transported from the tea estate to the processing facility for decaffeination and then back to the tea estate. All of the transport costs need to be factored into the cost of the tea, which in turn is then passed onto the consumer.

Keep in mind, green teas and oolong teas have less caffeine than black teas. Green tea has approximately 1/3 the amount of caffeine of black tea, while oolong tea has approximately 2/3 the amount of caffeine of black tea.

COFFEE (5 Ounces)

Method Caffeine Content
Drip Method 60 - 180 mg
Percolated 40 - 170 mg
Instant 30 - 120 mg
Decaffeinated 2 - 5 mg
Instant Decaffeinated 1 - 5 mg

TEA (5 Ounces)

Method Caffeine Content
Brewed U.S. Brands 20 - 90 mg
Brewed Imported Brands 25 - 110 mg

TEA (6 Ounces)

Type of Tea Caffeine Content
Black 25 - 110 mg
Green 8 - 16 mg
Oolong 12 - 55 mg

HERB (2 Grams - Dry)

Type of Herb Caffeine Content
Yerba Mate 30 mg

Source: Caffeine by The Institute of Food Technologists' Expert Panel on Food Safety & Nutrition
All About Tea by William H. Ukers
Merriam - Webster Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary

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An antioxidant is a chemical compound or substance that inhibits oxidation. Oxidation is the combination of a substance with oxygen. While we breathe oxygen that is vital to life, oxygen is also incorporated into a reactive substance called free radicals. Free radicals can lead to undesirable chemical changes in our bodies and cause damage to the components of our cells, which can lead to heart disease and/or cancer. The best known antioxidants are Vitamins C and E and beta carotene, also known as the "ACE" vitamins.

Research suggests that drinking 4 - 5 cups of tea a day may have a beneficial effect on high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Studies have shown that blood pressure and blood cholesterol drop as tea consumption increases. Experts believe the flavanoids (antioxidants) in tea may also decrease blood clotting, which is another common cause of cardiovascular disease.

Tea is a natural source of fluoride. It has been shown to have a positive effect on decreasing plaque buildup, thereby preventing tooth decay and gum disease among the British. In Great Britain it is believed that tea, with the fluoride and antioxidants synergy, assists children with better overall oral hygiene.

Both black and green teas are a rich source of antioxidants called flavanoids. Flavanoids are a natural group of chemicals found in plants that protect against deleterious changes brought about by free radicals in the body. Flavanoids are thought to play an important role in protecting us from heart disease and/or cancer.

Black tea is said to stimulate the nervous system in a way that is good for heart health and is more often associated with the prevention of strokes. It is thought the presence of theophyline (crystal alkaloid derived from tea leaves, useful as a diuretic and/or stimulant) may stimulate the nervous system while relaxing the blood vessels and consequently may help the heart to work better. There has also been evidence to suggest that cancers of the digestive tract and the urinary tract are inhibited by black tea, as are some of the cancers that particularly effect postmenopausal women.

While green tea is said to assist in the treatment of abdominal, intestinal and cerebral hemorrhage, the prevention of capillary fragility and the formation of bladder stones. Green tea has also been found to be helpful in the treatment of nephritis (inflammation of the kidney), chronic hepatitis and hypertension. The polyphenols (antioxidant properties) in green tea may help fight cancers of the lung, stomach, esophagus, duodenum, pancreas, liver and colon.


Vitamin / Mineral Benefit
Carotene, precursor to Vitamin A Has antioxidant and protective properties.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1) Essential for releasing energy from food. Improves mental abilities, controls anemia and can help control diabetes.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Essential for releasing energy from food. Contributes to general energy levels. Protects against some cancers and against anemia.
Nicotinic Acid Necessary for the release of energy from fat and carbohydrate.
Pantothenic Acid Necessary for the release of energy from fat and carbohydrate.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Essential for a healthy immune system.
Vitamin B6 Metabolism of proteins, good for an overall immune booster. Helps control diabetes, prevents skin disease and soothes nervous disorders.
Manganese Essential for bone growth and body development, 2 - 5 mg a day is required for good health.
Potassium Vital for maintaining a normal heart beat, enables nerves and muscles to function and regulate fluid levels within the cells.

When You Should Not Drink Tea

With Medication
The natural compounds of tea may inhibit the effectiveness of some medications. As a result, this may contribute to harmful side effects. You should always check with your doctor when taking medication.

Before Sleeping
Natural caffeine content of tea may interfere with sleep. It is best to sip a non-caffeine herbal tea, such as chamomile, prior to sleeping.

Right Before A Meal
Tea can dilute gastric juices that are necessary for good digestion, so it is not recommended you drink tea right before you eat.

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Rooibos is a bush-like plant with a smooth central barked main stem (near the soil surface), with branches bearing the thin, sharp (but soft), needlelike leaves. It is said Rooibos tea was first harvested from plants growing in the mountains around Clanwilliam near Capetown, South Africa. The stems and leaves of the plant were bruised with hammers and left to ferment in the sun. The resulting beverage was first reported by the botanist Carl Humberg in 1772. However, no one really knows exactly how old the Rooibos plant is, or when the plant from the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa was first used to prepare a beverage.

The Rooibos awareness grew significantly in 1960 when Annique Theron discovered that by adding Rooibos to her colicky baby's warmed milk it produced a soothing effect. This discovery lead to many subsequent health studies. The list of health benefits from Rooibos have been reported to be a natural cure for allergies, digestive problems like nausea and stomach cramping, nervous tension, mild depression and headaches.

Rooibos can be a delicious stand alone beverage, as well as a natural additive in baby foods and skin care products. Rooibos has an amber reddish hue that is used in food coloring and it is a popular additive for juices, soups and other food recipes.

Rooibos is also popular among athletes, as it is a rich source of replenishing depleted minerals after a workout. Three grams of Rooibos in 8 ounces of water contain:

Nutrients Function In The Body Mg
Caffeine   0
Potassium Necessary for metabolic function 7.12
Calcium Necessary for strong teeth and bones 1.09
Sodium Necessary for fluid and acid-base balance 6.16
Iron Essential for transport of oxygen in the blood 0.07
Copper Necessary for different metabolic processes 0.07
Manganese Necessary for metabolic processes and for bone growth and development 0.04
Zinc Necessary for normal growth, development and healthy skin 0.04
Magnesium Necessary for healthy nervous system and for other metabolic processes 1.57
Fluoride Necessary for healthy teeth and bones 0.22
Acidity   Ph 5.3
Tannin   Low

NOTE: As per brewed serving without any sugar or milk added.

Sources: Allergies: An Amazing Discovery by Annique Theron

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Mate is a tea-like beverage consumed mainly in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil. Yerba Mate is part of the holly family, with holly-like leaves that are somewhat leathery. In the wild the plant grows near streams and needs 25 years to develop completely. The plant flowers between the months of October and December with small white flowers that produce a small red, black or yellow fruit that resemble a pepper berry. Yerba Mate is a wild plant that has a distinct aroma and taste that has never been replicated through plantation cultivation, although it is widely cultivated now to keep up with demand. In the leading export countries of Brazil and Paraguay, some production still comes from the wild stands, most of which are found in the humid depressions of the foothills. During harvesting, mate gatherers travel through the jungle searching for a stand of trees called a mancha. Harvesting is done when the tree is in full leaf, and leaves are picked from the same tree only every third year. Thus protecting the tree for the ensuing crop. It is not uncommon for one wild tree to produce 65 - 85 lbs. of dried leaves annually.

Mate is brewed from the dried leaves and stemlets of the perennial tree Ilex paraguarensis ("Yerba Mate"). It has a characteristic mature flavor that is somewhat sweet, bitter and alfalfa-like. The infusion is similar to that of tea, but it is not as astringent. The name Mate derives from the quichua word "mati" the name of the gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris) that is traditionally used to hold the mate infusion as it is drunk.

Mate is said to be a whole body tonic that promotes balances in many body systems without over-stimulating any one system. Mate is used to reduce appetite, invigorate the body and affect the muscles by reducing fatigue. In Europe, Mate is used for weight loss, arthritis, headache, hemorrhoids, fluid retention, obesity, fatigue, stress, constipation, allergies and hay fever. It is believe to cleanse the blood, tone the nervous system, stimulate the production of cortisone, retard aging, stimulate the mind and control appetite.

Nutrients Type
VITAMINS A, C, E, B11, B2, Nicotinic acid, Biotin, Pantothenic acid, Carotene, Choline Inositol
MINERALS Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus
AMINO ACIDS 15 different compounds
ANTIOXIDANT POLYPHENOLS Kaempferol glycosides, Rutin, Isoquercitrin


Country Use
BRAZIL Digestion, Diuretic, Heart, Obesity, Stimulant, Stomach, Tea, Tonic and Urinary
SOUTH AMERICA Appetite Suppressant, Astringent, Coffee and Rheumatism
TURKEY Diuretic, Purgative, Scurvy, Stimulant, Sudorific and Tea

Please keep in mind, these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The testing and evaluating of herbs and/or health foods is not a requirement of the FDA. The Yerba Mate product is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any aliment. For diagnosis and treatment consult your physician.

Sources: Herbs for Health - Sun Harvest Farms Health Food Magazine, July 1999
Herbal Secrets of the Rainforest by Leslie Taylor
The Herbal Forest by Richard Evans Schultes & Robert F. Faffauf
A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve
Herbal Tonic Therapies by Daniel Mowrey
CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs by James A. Duke


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Trish's Teas
Baldwin Park Village
4844 New Broad Street
Orlando, Florida 32814
Phone: 407-896-3155 Fax: 407-896-3135
E-mail us at:[email protected]

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