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Why do we need more information on Chinese tea?

The American public is confused with the half-trueinformation published in the lay media. One of the latest articles titled “Steeped in Confusion” on green tea published in the Wall Street Journal (Monday, January 26, 2004, in the Personal Health section) by Jennifer Saranow illustrates the confusion the readers of these articles are facing. For example, the anticancer effects of green tea observed in the laboratories are not always reproducible among the human green tea drinkers. Few editors, authors or scientists attempted to address this discrepancy.

Chinese Tea was introduced to the American public through the British tea traders and the Chinese restaurants, which are usually operated by Chinese-Americans whose ancestors came from the villages of the southern province of Guangdong, Taiwan and Hong Kong where most residents still shun green tea as a beverage. These descendants of farm laborers from Southern China only rink oolong tea, as commonly served in the Chinese restaurants.

As a result, the American Chinese tea drinkers have not been exposed to genuine green tea. All writings on green tea published in the US lay journals are based on second-hand information at the best. The TeaForHealth™ mission is to disseminate reliable evidence-based scientific information to the consumers who are interested in drinking green tea as a conventional food for health protection. It is a global green tea movement for knowledge dissemination initiated by a medical doctor with a cross-cultural background and more than 40 years of experience in medical practice in this country.

What kind of tea the Americans are drinking now?

The British brought black tea and the Chinese restaurants brought oolong tea to America. Some ofthe oolong teas are sold in special tea stores under the name of oolong green tea, or half-green tea. None in water to prepare tea drinks, primarily for “detoxification” and in religious or funeral ceremonies. Freshly plucked tea leaves were still used at least on special occasions among the intellect elite in the 1500’s AD, as depicted in the poem written on a classic Ming dynasty Chinese painting titled “Drinking Tea” now on display in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

As tea became a commodity for trading, it was necessary to preserve the quality of the fresh tea leaves by a brief heating and drying process for transportation and for storage. Tea leaves must undergo an initial heat treatment for quality preservation. Now, we know its purpose was to inactivate the polyphenol oxidase in tea leaves to stop the oxidation process in order to preserve the antioxidant tea catechins. The tea leaves which were not processed immediately would turn brown, just like a sliced apple undergoing discoloration when exposed to the air.

The brown tea leaves were treated with high temperature heating and pressed into cakes and bricks as salvage products, which were considered of low grade teas and were mostly sold to the minority Chinese living in the North or to foreign traders. Historically, “tea” always referred to green tea in the Middle Kingdom.

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