World leader in high quality teas

Our Teas

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water. It’s a simple preparation of pouring hot water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The first recording of tea described it as a medicinal beverage in China in the 3rd century AD. Merchants helped its popularity to spread quickly across continents. In the early 19th century, Great Britain popularized the concept of afternoon tea, a break from one’s routine in which tea is served alongside sandwiches and baked goods such as scones. The flavor of tea varies by where the tea leaves are harvested and how they are grown and processed. Black tea is the most popular worldwide, followed by green, oolong, and white tea. [1]

Herbal teas are not made from the Camellia plant but from dried herbs, spices, flowers, fruit, seeds, roots, or leaves of other plants; they do not typically contain caffeine as do traditional teas.

Rich in

  • Caffeine (traditional teas, not herbal)
  • Polyphenols
    • Flavonols – myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol
    • Theaflavins – formed when black tea leaves are oxidized
    • Catechins – found in green tea; epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG) is the main form

Most traditional teas do not contain a significant amount of nutrients, but are rich in polyphenols. These are plant chemicals that give teas their distinct flavor and aroma and may have health-promoting properties.

Tea and Health

Animal studies suggest potential health benefits of tea due to its high polyphenol content. Human studies have generally been less conclusive, yet show promise. Observational research has found that tea consumption of 2-3 cups daily is associated with a reduced risk of premature death, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. [2] However, there may be an increased risk of esophageal and stomach cancers from drinking tea that is too hot (130-140° F). [2,3] Randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm if these healthful and harmful associations are causal. In the meantime, there appears to be little risk associated with drinking tea except for frequent consumption of very hot tea. So pick a color, let it cool, and enjoy a cup!

Spotlight on tea and antioxidants

Polyphenols, or flavonoids, are likely a key component to what makes tea a healthful drink. These chemical compounds act as antioxidants, which control the damaging effects of free radicals in the body. Free radicals can alter DNA by stealing its electrons, and this mutated DNA can increase LDL cholesterol or alter cell membrane traffic—both harmful to our health. Though green tea is often believed to be richer in polyphenols than black or oolong (red) teas, studies show that—with the exception of decaffeinated tea—all plain teas have about the same levels of these chemicals, albeit in different proportions. Green tea is richest in epigallocatechin-3 gallate whereas black tea is richest in theaflavins; research has shown that both can exert health benefits. Herbal teas contain polyphenols as well but will vary highly depending on its plant origin.

Indeed, one reason for conflicting results in observational studies may be the wide variations in tea types with varying flavonoid content. [4] Where the tea leaves are grown, the specific blend of tea leaves, type of processing, and addition of ingredients such as milk, honey, and lemon can alter specific flavonoid content. How accurately people report their tea intake (e.g., type, amount, brew strength) and their overall diet (e.g., do they eat other foods rich in flavonoids?) are other factors that need to be clarified as they can affect study results. For example:

  • Some research suggests that the protein and possibly the fat in milk may reduce the antioxidant capacity of tea. [5] Flavonoids are known to “deactivate” when binding to proteins so this theory makes scientific sense. [6]
  • One study that analyzed the effects of adding skimmed, semi-skimmed, and whole milk to tea concluded that skimmed milk significantly reduced the antioxidant capacity of tea. Higher-fat milks also reduced the antioxidant capacity of tea, but to a lesser degree. [7] All said, in practice it’s important to keep in mind that tea—even tea with a splash of milk—can be a healthful drink.
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