Tea is the second most popular and most consumed drink of the world – next only to water. Tea was, accidentally, discovered by the second Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BCE, when a tea leaf, by chance, fell into his bowl of hot water. Although, the East has been drinking tea for nearly 4000 years, tea was introduced to West only about 400 years ago. Today, Tea has become the favorite drink of Great Britain – a statistics shows that approximately 62 billion cups of tea is consumed in Great Britain annually and in the United States, about 1.42 million pounds of tea is consumed, per day. Ireland is supposed to have the highest number of tea drinkers.
Iran and Afghanistan have made tea their national drink. About 3 million tons of tea is produced world over annually. There are 4 major classification of tea. Green Tea, Black Tea, White Tea and the increasingly popular Oolong Tea. Each one of these can be and is processed and blended into hundreds of varieties of tea.
Oolong Tea is also known as brown tea and rock tea. Tea leaves are plucked and “bruised” to break them up to release the oil in them and then processed. The oxidation(fermentation) process for Oolong tea can be anywhere between 10% to 70% – depending on the variety desired. All the four varieties of tea comes from the same plant called the “Camellia Sinensis”. It is the processing (fermenting) method of each tea that differentiates them – i.e. green tea is un- oxidized; black tea is fully oxidized; and oolong tea is semi-oxidized. This is the reason why oolong tea drinkers get the best of both, green and black teas.
Oolong tea is mainly grown and processed in China and Taiwan. Chinese variety gives a more darker and woody tasting tea and Taiwanese varieties are lighter and more floral tasting brew. Both varieties have a very unique taste quite distinct from green and black tea. It has the richest aroma among all varieties, with its’ strong and refreshing taste and it is clear and fragrant.
However, Oolong Tea’s utility and popularity is in its intensive nutritional and medicinal values and the consequent health benefits. Oolong tea is rich in the antioxidant – plant poly phenols . It contains minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, selenium, potassium; vitamins A,B,,CE & K. It also contains carotene, folic acid, niacin amide, florin, flavanol and some detoxifying alkaloids, numerous poly phenol compounds and a safe amount of caffeine and catechins, as these last two are reduced significantly, during fermentation and further while steeping.
Besides keeping check on blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol & blood pressure, strengthening immune system, fighting free radicals, helps prevent tumor growth, and by keeping stress hormones and depression at bay, lets people sleep safe and sound at night, oolong tea offers enormous health benefits.
Here are seven health benefits of Oolong Tea:
1. STRENGTHENS IMMUNE SYSTEM:
A study shows that the production of antibacterial proteins are higher in oolong tea drinkers, indicating a strong immune response. Further the antioxidant flavonoids prevent cellular damage. It is also known for its’ anti cancer properties. Overall, oolong tea helps to strengthen and maintain a healthy immune system.
2. PROMOTES CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH:
Oolong tea is known to regulate high cholesterol, triglyceride, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, thus, lowering the risk of heart problems like stroke etc. Oolong tea produces perfectly sized poly phenol molecule that activates the enzyme lipase, which in turn dissolves body fat and blocks enzymes that build fat, consequently, promoting cardiovascular health.
3. AIDS DIGESTION:
Oolong tea is known to alkalize the digestive tract and reduce inflammation in those with acid reflux and ulcer problem. Its’ mild antiseptic nature clears bad bacteria from the belly. It relaxes the gastro intestinal tract and soothes our stomach. On the whole, it aids the entire process of digestion.
4. DETOXES BODY – LOWERS RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASES:
Poly phenols, vitamin A, minerals such as calcium, potassium, selenium, fluorine, magnesium and phosphorus helps in the process of detoxification of the body, thus, lowering the risk of chronic and many other lifestyle diseases. In fact, oolong tea is known to prevent diabetes and is considered as a herbal supplement for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
5. BOOSTS METABOLISM – CAUSES WEIGHT LOSS:
Boosts metabolism for up to two hours after drinking, which helps in faster digestion and faster burning of calories. The poly phenol blocks enzymes that build fat and helps lose weight.
6. PREVENTS TOOTH DECAY AND OSTEOPOROSIS:
Oolong tea improves oral health by inhibiting bacterial growth that causes tooth decay and oral cancers and prevents build up of plaque. It prevents cavities. In general, the antioxidant poly phenol, magnesium and calcium, improves and helps maintain dental hygiene and health.
7. ANTI CANCER PROPERTIES:
In general, tea drinkers, are known, to have lower risk of cancer. Oolong teas’ rich content of polymeric poly phenols like thearubigin and theaflavin helps combat carcinogens and help in reducing the risk of cancer. These anti oxidants have also been found to promote apoptosis ( programmed cell death) of cancerous growths in stomach and is also known to act as a chemo preventive agent in the suppression of the development of other forms of cancers like ovarian cancer.
No wonder, with all the above nutritional and medicinal values and the wide range of health benefits, it has to offer, oolong tea is becoming, increasingly popular, all over the world. Imagine, the Chinese have been drinking this brew for thousands of years, perhaps, which is why they have been living longer and still keep going on living longer.