Immortal Elixir


A Hearty Cup of Tea

A hardened and shameless tea drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle scarcely has time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning.

- Samuel Johnson

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you;
if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.

- William Ewart Gladstone

Art teapots: Sage Stump - 1994                                         Sea Cucumber - 1993                                                     Tree Stump - 1994

by Rhonda Rowland

Boston, Massachusetts - Drinking at least two cups of tea a day may dramatically reduce a person's chances of dying following a heart attack, a study suggests.  Researchers said they suspect properties found in black and green tea may be protecting the heart.  "The results were more dramatic than I anticipated," said Dr Kenneth Mukamal, who led the study, which was published Monday in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation.  "Even if the true effect of tea is less than what we found, it could still make a sizable difference in heart attack survival."

The heavy tea drinkers in the study - those who drank two or more cups of tea a day - had a 44% lower death rate following their heart attack, compared with nondrinkers.  The study found even a benefit in moderate tea drinkers.  Those who drank fewer than 14 cups a week had a 28% lower death rate.  In the study, researchers asked 1,900 heart attack survivors about their tea consumption before their heart problem and followed them for up to four years.  "The most important outcome after a heart attack is whether they lived or died," said Mukamal of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.  "This is a high-risk group of people who are prone to another heart attack or other heart events.  To imagine that tea might lower this risk is very exciting."

Researchers said there's good reason to believe it's the flavonoids - antioxidants found naturally in various foods derived from plants - that are protecting the heart by relaxing the blood vessels so blood can flow more easily.  There's also evidence to suggest flavonoids may prevent LDL cholesterol - the so-called bad cholesterol - from becoming really bad cholesterol.

So, should everyone start drinking tea to avoid death after a heart attack?  Mukamal isn't making that recommendation yet.  "Those who've had a heart attack and have been worried about caffeine in tea should be reassured," he said.  The study did not ask patients about decaffeinated tea use, but Mukamal said there's no reason to believe caffeine makes a difference in the benefit.  However, herbal teas would not provide the same benefits since the chemical makeup is different than that found in black and green tea.  Dark beer, wine and whiskey also contain flavonoids but in amounts lower than that found in tea.

"Ultimately I hope this work will spur on more research so we can find out the exact effect of tea on the heart," Mukamal said, "so one day we could give a tea prescription, along with aspirin and other medications following a heart attack.  It seems there are no downsides to drinking tea."

Source: CNN Medical Unit 6 May 2002

Black Tea May Lower Heart Disease Risks

That tea bag soaking in your cup could be brewing up a longer, healthier life, researchers report.  A study of over 3,400 adults in Saudi Arabia - a country of tea-lovers - found that those who drank more than 6 cups per day of the brown beverage had a more than 50% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to tea abstainers, even after adjusting for other factors such as smoking, diet and obesity.

Antioxidants called flavonoids, found in both green and black teas, are thought to be potent weapons in the fight against heart disease.  "Tea, the most widely consumed beverage in the world, is a rich source of (these) antioxidants," explain researchers led by Dr Iman A Hakim of the University of Arizona in Tucson.  They published their findings in the January issue of the Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Numerous studies have trumpeted the cardiovascular benefits of green tea, which is the beverage of choice in much of the Far East.  But elsewhere in the world black tea reigns supreme, and fewer studies have examined its heart-healthy properties.  The researchers interviewed 3,430 Saudis ranging in age from 30 to 70.  Study participants were quizzed on their dietary habits, history of smoking, coffee drinking, exercise and other factors.  Just over 6% were diagnosed with coronary heart disease.

Tea-drinking is a very social event in Saudi Arabia, and about 90% of those interviewed drank the beverage daily.  Comparing heavy drinkers to non-drinkers, the researchers found that those who consumed more than 6 cups of tea per day (about 20% of those interviewed) had a 50% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not drink tea.  Those findings held even after the researchers adjusted for other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, obesity, fat intake, blood cholesterol levels or sedentary lifestyle.  In general, individuals with heart disease tended to drink less tea than healthier individuals - 3.5 cups/day versus 4.5 cups/days, respectively.

How might tea drinking boost heart health?  Studies have suggested that flavonoids in tea may lower blood pressure and reduce stroke risk by about 12% for those drinking 3 cups of tea per day.  Flavonoids may also lower clotting risks and "hardening of the arteries," and reduce levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol, the researchers suggest.  Whatever the reason, tea for two - or more - may be just the ticket for healthy tickers, the researchers conclude.  "These findings support a potential protective effect of tea consumption in relation to coronary heart disease," they say.

Source: Reuters Health Wednesday 1 January 2003 from New York taken from Preventive Medicine: 2002;36:64-70

Tea Aids Memory

A cup of tea can improve the memory and help prevent Alzheimer's disease.  According to scientists, black and green brews fight enzymes that destroy chemical messengers in the brain.  Green tea went a step further by battling a building block in proteins common in sufferers.  Its effect lasted a week, black tea's a single day.  Now the Newcastle University team hope to develop a medicinal tea reports The Sun.

They said: "It's exciting as tea is popular and inexpensive without side effects."


Black Tea "Soothes away Stress"

Scientists have evidence behind what many tea drinkers already know - a regular cuppa can help you recover more quickly from everyday life stresses.  The study of black tea - instead of green or herbal varieties - found it helps cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol circulating in the blood.  They found people who drank tea were able to de-stress more quickly than those who drank a tea substitute.  The University College London study is in the journal Psychopharmacology.

In the study, 75 young male regular tea drinkers were split into two groups and monitored for 6 weeks.  They all gave up their normal tea, coffee and caffeinated beverages, and then one group was given a fruit-flavoured caffeinated tea mixture made up of the constituents of an average cup of black tea.  The other group was given a caffeinated placebo identical in taste, but devoid of the active tea ingredients.  All drinks were tea-coloured, but were designed to mask some of the normal sensory cues associated with tea drinking (such as smell, taste and familiarity of the brew).  This was designed to eliminate confounding factors such as the "comforting" effect of drinking a cup of tea.

Both groups were subjected to challenging tasks, while their cortisol, blood pressure, blood platelet and self-rated levels of stress were measured.  In one task, volunteers were exposed to one of three stressful situations (threat of unemployment, a shop-lifting accusation or an incident in a nursing home), where they had to prepare a verbal response and argue their case in front of a camera.  The tasks triggered substantial increases in blood pressure, heart rate and subjective stress ratings in both of the groups.  However, 50 minutes after the task, cortisol levels had dropped by an average of 47% in the tea-drinking group compared with 27% in the fake tea group.  Blood platelet activation - linked to blood clotting and the risk of heart attacks - was also lower in the tea drinkers.  In addition, this group reported a greater degree of relaxation in the recovery period after the task.

Complex drink

Researcher Professor Andrew Steptoe said: "Drinking tea has traditionally been associated with stress relief, and many people believe that drinking tea helps them relax after facing the stresses of everyday life.  However, scientific evidence for the relaxing properties of tea is quite limited."  Professor Steptoe said it was unclear what ingredients in tea were responsible.  He said it was very complex, and ingredients such as catechins, polyphenols, flavonoids and amino acids had all been found to affect neurotransmitters in the brain.  Nevertheless, the study suggests that drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life.  "Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal.  This has important health implications because slow recovery following acute stress has been associated with a greater risk of chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease."


Drinking tea quenches thirst, relieves indigestion, clears the throat, reduces sleepiness, soothes waterway, brightens eyesight, promotes thinking, eliminates anguish and cuts down grease.  One cannot live a day without tea.

- Tsien Tsun Nien

Lady Acrobat - 1994

Thank God for tea!  What would the world do without tea?  How did it exist?
I am glad I was not born before tea.

- Sydney Smith

Driftwood - 1993

About 800 years ago, the monk Eisai stressed the beneficial effects of tea in his book Maintaining Health by Drinking Tea:

"Tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. Tea has an extraordinary power to prolong life.  Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long life will follow.  In ancient and modern times, tea is the elixir that creates the mountain-dwelling immortal."

Green tea is like a medicine and appears to have the power to prolong life and prevent disease.  It offers at least ten major health benefits:

bulletGreen tea may prevent cancer - Research suggests the consumption of 5 - 6 cups of green tea per day by the majority of men and women in Japan is linked to their significantly lower rate of cancer.  Studies have shown that in order for cancer to form two things have to be present; an initiator which damages DNA in the cell rendering it subject to cancer and a promotor which activates cancer, leading to a malignancy.  The tannin and catechin in green tea reduces both.
bulletGreen tea may restrict blood cholesterol - High cholesterol is associated with a wide range of diseases in adults.  Green tea catechin restricts the excessive buildup of low-density lipoprotein.
bulletGreen tea may control high blood pressure - Mice experiments indicate daily consumption of green tea catechin helps prevent a rise in blood pressure.
bulletGreen tea may lower blood sugar - 60 years ago, a Japanese doctor noticed that sugar in the urine of hospitalised diabetic patients fell markedly during periods when they participated in the Tea Ceremony.  Recent studies have demonstrated that green tea catechin lowers blood sugar as do polysaccharides in green tea.
bulletGreen tea may suppress ageing - One way of slowing down ageing is to prevent the productive of active oxygen and lipid peroxide in the body.  Oxygen can oxidise cell membranes, which damage DNA.  Catechin in green tea contains antioxidants 20 times stronger than Vitamin E.
bulletGreen tea refreshes the body - Green tea taken in proper quantity stimulates every organ in the body.
bulletGreen tea may deter food poisoning - Green tea catechin is a powerful sterilising agent for many types of bacteria that cause food poisoning.
bulletGreen tea may prevent and treat skin disease - Soaking in green tea treats athlete’s foot, bed sores and skin disease.
bulletGreen tea may stop cavities - Cariogenic bacteria create glucan, which creates plaque.  Green tea catechin can destroy cariogenic bacteria.  Halitosis or bad breath embarrasses many people.  It is caused by a number of bacteria that flourish in the mouth.  Green tea can also kill other oral bacteria besides those causing caries.  It has, therefore, some ability to prevent bad breath by destroying the cause of bad breath.
bulletGreen tea may fight viruses - Green tea catechin and the aflavin (an oxidised form of catechin present in black tea) have a strong effect on the influenza virus.  The anti-viral capability of green tea catechin may even have a beneficial effect on the AIDS virus.

           Blue Bamboo - 1994                                             Bull Elephant - 1993                                        Loop and Ball - 1993

Source: The teapot pictures come from a lovely site called (they sell quality teas over the internet).  The tea information comes from all over the web - just do a search for green tea and dozens of articles about each of these topics will pop up.  Why not try some green tea if you're not already into the habit?  I recommend a good pearl jasmine, silver needle or green sea anemone...

See also:

bulletTea and Fantasy (an external site) - for whimsical and sculptured teapots.


Water is crucial.

bulletMost Americans suffer from chronic dehydration - the same can probably be said for about half of the world's population.
bulletOne third of Americans don't feel thirsty: they tend to mistake thirst for hunger.
bulletEven insignificant dehydration is capable of slowing the body's metabolism.
bulletHydrating can help dieting individuals rid themselves of nagging headaches.
bulletDehydration causes weariness.
bulletConsumption of 8-10 glasses of liquids per day can reduce back pains and muscle aches.
bulletIf a person loses as little as 2% of body fluids, this may weaken short term memory, impair ability to perform simple mathematical calculations and disturb concentration.
bulletDrinking 5 or more glasses of liquids daily can reduce the risk of rectal, breast and bladder cancers.

How much liquid do you drink in a day?  (Why not have a cup of tea?)

Source: from IsraLife 30 January 2004

Tea "Healthier" Drink than Water

Drinking 3 or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.  The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.  Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.

Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.  These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.  Public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, and colleagues at Kings College London, looked at published studies on the health effects of tea consumption.  They found clear evidence that drinking 3 - 4 cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack.

Some studies suggested tea consumption protected against cancer, although this effect was less clear-cut.  Other health benefits seen included protection against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, plus bone strengthening.  Dr Ruxton said: "Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water.  Water is essentially replacing fluid.  Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it's got two things going for it."  She said it was an urban myth that tea is dehydrating.  "Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate.  But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.  "Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth," she added.

There was no evidence that tea consumption was harmful to health.  However, research suggests that tea can impair the body's ability to absorb iron from food, meaning people at risk of anaemia should avoid drinking tea around mealtimes.  Dr Ruxton's team found average tea consumption was just under 3 cups per day.  She said the increasing popularity of soft drinks meant many people were not drinking as much tea as before.

"Tea drinking is most common in older people, the 40+ age range.  In older people, tea sometimes made up about 70% of fluid intake so it is a really important contributor," she said.  Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation said: "Studies in the laboratory have shown potential health benefits... there are definite potential health benefits from the polyphenols in terms of reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancers."

The Tea Council provided funding for the work.  Dr Ruxton stressed that the work was independent.

Source: BBC News 24 August 2006 © BBC MMVI

See also:

bulletGerontological Incertitude - Studies that have been made of elderly identical and fraternal twins, for instance, suggest that roughly 35% of man's longevity is due to genetic factors, the rest being attributable to a wide variety of environmental factors such as diet...

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