Photo Credit by Flickr, Kanko*

As connoisseur of teas, whether real or herbal, asample of the all natural, organic oolong tea was a refreshing change. A trip to the local coffee house gave me the opportunity to try this Asian delight. The taste was smooth with a small bitter aftertaste that can be remedied by a small splash of crème or milk. The color was a dark yellow or orange and the aroma smelled of an herbal garden in the noon day sun. It was a relaxing cup of tea without the usual overtones of fruit or spice as with some of the Celestial brews that come from Colorado. It was hearty but not with overshadowing added flavors.

Grown in China using traditional, organic methods, the Oolong Tea is becoming more and more popular in the United States. It seems that the taste and aroma is not the only reason people are drinking this powerful liquid. The health benefits of Oolong are numerous and have shown proven results in Japanese studies. The tea is a mixture of black (fermented) tea and green (non-fermented) tea. The two teas are blended together to make a wonderful combination of taste and health benefits. The green tea is shown to reduce oxidants thus reducing the risk for cancer. Cardiovascular disease is also shown in reduction with intake of the green elixir. Research has shown that consumption of Oolong tea in quantities of 4 cups a day is even seen as a control for body weight and obesity. As with any herbal product, the results are different with each individual and should not be used as a sole dietary plan. Exercise and sensible eating should also be used as part of the daily routine.

Health benefits of this Chinese tea

Oolong tea leaves contains catechins, catechins give tea it's bitter taste, 10 - 50% of the catechins in oolong tea is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which has especially high anti-oxident properites. ECGC removes oxidised free radicals from our body thus preventing damage to our cells and DNA. The anti-oxidant properties of EGCG are believed to be 100 more times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times more effective than vitamin E.

Green tea contains flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant pigments, the brightly coloured chemical constituents found in most fresh fruits & vegetables. Flavonoids are essential for processing vitamin C, know to help maintain a healthy immune system. A deficiency can result in a tendency to bruise easily. Flavonoids are also needed to maintain capillary walls.

Oolong tea is rich in polyphenols, which have activities consistent with blood pressure-lowering potential. Green tea also contains Gamma Amino Butyric Acid which is thought to lower blood pressure. A study done on a human population in China suggested that habitual tea drinking was related to reduced instances of hypertension (high blood pressure). Another and significant cause of hypertension is angiotension-converting enzyme (ACE), ACE is an enzyme secreted by the kidneys;oolong tea is a natural ACE inhibitor.

The history of the Chinese tea

The history of tea is as long and storied as the history of China itself. One legend states that early emperor Shen Nong required all drinking water be boiled. While traveling to a distant part of his realm, some dried leaves from a bush fell into the water his servants were boiling for him. Shen Nong, a creative scientist, was intrigued by the brown liquid. He took a drink, found himself refreshed, and thus, legend goes, created tea.

Another legend credits ruler Yan Di, who tasted many herbs looking for medicinal cures. An herb he ingested poisoned him, but a drop of water from a tea tree dripped into his mouth and saved him. Tea has long been used as an herbal medicine.

Tea found its way into every stratum of Chinese society. During the Zhou Dynasty, it was a religious offering. Later, the Chinese ate fresh tea leaves as a vegetable. And during the Tang Dynasty, tea shops became popular. Around 765 A.D. the first definitive book on tea, the Ch'a Ching, was written. In it, Lu Yu codified the methods of tea cultivation and preparation. Having been raised by Buddhist monks, Lu Yu's work was clearly influenced by Zen philosophy and teachings. Missionaries would later introduce this form of tea service to imperial Japan, shaping the creation of the Japanese tea ceremony.

Over several centuries, through exploration and trade, tea eventually spread throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. With it, a distinct culture within each region arose. From British afternoon tea to Russian tea houses, tea infused itself into local customs as it infuses itself into water. Today, tea continues to be the beverage consumed by the largest number of people worldwide.

The varieties of Chinese tea are extensive with many different types grown during each Chinese dynasties in China.

Tea dates back to the West Zhou Period in ancient China, when the Chinese used tea as offerings. Since then, tea leaves were eaten as vegetables, used as medicine, and finally, in the Han dynasty, people boiled the leaves in water, and this new drink became a major commodity. There are almost an infinite number of different kinds of tea, but the three most basic categories are green tea (non-oxidised), oolong tea (semi-oxidised) and black tea (fully oxidised). These teas are usually all made from the same type of plant, the Camellia Sinensis, although some teas are flavored with other plants and flowers.

Tea is made through a very long and delicate procedure where young tea leaves are picked, steamed or pan fried, then dried and sifted, and finally distributed to wherever they need to go. The flavor of tea varies depending on how it is prepared.

Many people drink tea because of its health advantages. Tea promotes digestion, is rich in vitamins, and brings a feeling of relaxation when you drink it. Tea is consumed more than any other drink besides water worldwide.

Source: Articlesbase