• The Science of Tea: For 4,700 years, this infusion from the tender leaves of Camellia sinensis has been delivering a cupful of healthy antioxidants and good cheer. Did you know that tea is the most widely consumed beverage, after water? To celebrate the birthday of Siromi Samarasinghe , who has a PhD in tea chemistry, here is some chemis-tea.
• Caffeine : Did you know that weight for weight, dry tea has more caffeine than coffee? But because more coffee is used per cup than tea, brewed tea has significantly less caffeine (~90 mg/250 ml).
• L-Theanine: A rare amino acid (γ-glutamylethylamide), found almost exclusively in tea, it has a calming effect on the brain. Theanine suppresses the stimulation by caffeine of brain excitability, reduces blood pressure and protects against neuronal cell death. It is a structural analog of glutamine, which is a byproduct of glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Theanine inhibits the transport of glutamine and dampens neurotransmission.
• Catechins: Up to 30% of dry weight in tea, catechins are a type of antioxidant also found in chocolate and wine (Mmm..). Catechins are classified as flavonoids and have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and cancer.
There are many other antioxidants and polyphenols found in tea. Tea is best drunk in company, but if you are alone, you can still have a tea party:
I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
‘Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.
Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
‘Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.
-Jessica Nelson North
Awesome post! Siromi Samarasinghe is so thrilled with the birthday wishes I’m sure some tea will help calm her down too! Thank you Rajini Rao 🙂
We have some [3H]-Glutamine in lab to monitor her neuronal transport activity, never fear!
Beautiful, listening now. How do find these, Gnotic Pasta ?
I can hardly believe in ~90mg of caffeine to be contained in 250ml tea. It would be stronger than an average “energy drink” in this case. Of all the teas I’ve tried only Mate can makes some notable effect on me, all the common sorts are just like drinking tasty warm water.
Ivan Mashchenko , the range is huge depending on whether it is green or black tea. I saw 40 mg/cup for green tea and 120 mg for black tea. I thought the ~90mg/cup that was quoted on Wiki was a fair representation. How much in energy drinks, do you know?
Red Bull has 80 and Jolt 160 mg/can according to this list:
Tea is way lower at 26 mg/cup…but it’s Liptons and Iced Tea, bah! 😀
Fascinating. Looks like I am drinking wrong tea…
Tea Party is the name of the group? Will check them out..the comments are great on that link.
Haha, the Mad Hatter or Political type, Shaker Cherukuri ?
It’s true, the range with respect to caffeine is huge…so many variables all the way down to herbals which have zero of course. Also note that there are other stimulants in coffee besides caffeine so you really can’t make a comparison just on how you feel.
I use to drink tea endlessly (I just make a new cup as soon as I finish the previous one and I drink it for whole days) and feel almost nothing but I feel much better when I have a can of some RedBull-like. Is that L-Theanine inhibiting caffeine action?
Ivan Mashchenko Tea ranges from 124 to 416 mg per litre. Red Bull is 80 mg per can (250 ml). A real coffee (espresso, 60 ml) has 100mg, up to 2254 mg per litre. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine
By the way, mate is not Camelia sinensis, but llex paraguariensis.
Jim Carver , I’ve been looking in the last 10 minutes and the estimates are all over the place! This list is from Mayo Clinic, if any one is interested: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211
Shaker Cherukuri , never really got into green tea. I need to calm down, perhaps I should take a leaf out of your book, and try some 🙂
Yes, L_theanine counters the effect of caffeine, which is pretty interesting. I just read a paper describing it’s cellular effects on neurons and astrocytes.
“I just read a paper describing it’s cellular effects on neurons and astrocytes.” – sounds interesting… Is it published? May I have a look too?
Víktor Bautista i Roca , never had mate. I wonder if it is available in the US. …
Ivan Mashchenko : Here are a few (some behind paywalls).
Anti-anxiety effects on morphine addicted monkeys:
Love the tea / chem / happy birthday mashup! FTW!
I only drink tea (and for that matter coffee as well) to flavour my sugar.
Therefore I like strong black tea, because it makes the extra sugar taste sweeter.
Putting tea higher on my drink priority list Rajini Rao Nice post indeed.
One thing about those ‘energy’ drinks is they have more sugar than even soda pop. That’s where the blast is coming from more likely.
I get ~3.75g per oz. for energy drinks and 3.25g per oz. for Coke. And we all know that is a lot in Coke. (Sorry for mixing units, I’m American, what can I say? 😉
Rajini Rao I’ve just had mate once. It tastes like tobacco leaves. I guess it’s an adquired taste.
If there’s an Argentinian or Uruguayan comunity around, there’s mate.
Lacerant Plainer , did you see my B-day mashup for Kimberly Chapman from this morning 😀
Satyr Icon , I used to be like that until my misogynistic spouse bullied me into cutting it down to a miserable quarter teaspoon per cup!
david rossouw , surely at the bottom? Since the top cools by convection currents?
I’ve cut down all by my lonesome self from 3 ts to 2 ts. I sitll have a long way to go. Maybe if I read up on the Zen of misogyny it may become clearer? 😉
Rajini Rao no I didnt! O..o too many to read… let me search…. !
I’ll be happy to supply some, Satyr Icon ..what is the equivalent term for abuse by females? 🙂
What is the cognac chemical formula, ROman Scherbakoff ?
Is misandric, the word you are looking for, Rajini Rao?
LOL, no links please Gnotic Pasta ! I can only imagine the graphic imagination that name conjures.
Something more angelic perhaps?
Ah, misandry! We don’t hear of it much. I should practice some of it 🙂
I think with the co-opting of everything by the patriarchy it has been abbreviated to plain misery 😉
Gnotic Pasta, so you telling me you’ve never met an incubus then? 😉
Them good ole catholic clergy. Sure knew their wicked devils. By name even! So much time they spent on studying their evil ways.
It’s hard to get good tea in US restaurants. The tea itself is fine…usually very nice selection in most places. But you usually have to settle for just warm not hot water. The water is usually not very good either because they run it through those machines made for coffee.
I’ve spent time with an incubator! Does that count?
Jim Carver , good old tea kettle..why don’t they use that?
In the middle east they call this Mountain tea: http://www.bilgeaktar.com.tr/Data/B/D10/337.jpg
It’s not peppermint though: Which looks like this http://highlandherbs.com.au/261-235-thickbox/peppermint-leaf.jpg
Anybody know what the plant in the Mountain Tea is?
Rajini Rao Some places are okay that like specialize in herbal teas and organic eats, but in a restaurant that caters to more mainstream crowd the water is like about 140F. You just can’t make a good cup that way. I know the British always gripe about it over here.
Satyr Icon , it looks like Lambs’ Ears (Stachys) because of the silver foliage. Gnotic Pasta may know.
Peter Lindelauf and Michelle Beissel are our master gardeners, and will probably ID the plant for us.
Ok, I’m getting hits on Oregano for the Mountain tea?
Hmm, I grow oregano and it does not look like that. How about these images? http://goo.gl/yeoYO
This is awesome! I hope someone plussed the Tea for Ten circle.
Thanks Rajini Rao, with your help I’ve narrowed it down to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sideritis
Thanks, jackie jordan ! Satyr Icon , that was quick. And we learned something new 🙂
“Very popular in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Republic of Macedonia the plant is used as a herb either for the preparation of tea (more accurately tisane) or for its aromatic properties in local cuisines. Preparation of tea involves boiling the stems, leaves and flowers in a pot of water and serve with honey and lemon. Sideritis has been traditionally used to aid digestion, strengthen the immune system and suppress common cold, the flu and other viruses, allergies and shortness of breath, sinus congestion, even pain and mild anxiety. “
“Scientists have suggested that the popular pronouncement of mountain tea as panacea may be remarkably close to the truth. Modern tests have indicated that the tea helps in the prevention of osteoporosis while its anti-oxidant properties aid in the prevention of cancer. Studies also indicate a positive effect on almost anything that ails. Sideritis is known scientifically to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. Active elements include diterpenoids, flavonoids, and its essential oils. Significant research has been done on Sideritis confirming its popular use to prevent colds, flu, and allergies. Most of this research has taken place in universities in the Netherlands and in Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Albania, where the plant is indigenous. In studies carried out on mice, ironwort helped reverse the formation of the brain plaques that offers new hope for curing Alzheimer’s disease. ”
I think you have to add some salt to the above claims.
I’ll just add a pinch of sugar instead, Satyr Icon 🙂 With all these wonder drinks, I wonder how we manage to get sick.
This one is fairly well documented though. Surprised nobody has griped about the style. Found an interesting comment on the talk page:
“In greek botany books it is mentioned that on the mount Taygetos of southern peloponnese there are 6 endemic species of sideritis.”
I’m getting the sneaky suspicion that sickness and malaise was invented by the Tea Cultivars Assoc., just so we can consume moare tea!
Mmm, I love tea.
Rajini Rao, when you make green tea, it’s important not to have the water too hot. After the kettle starts whistling, I let it sit for 60 seconds before pouring the water on the leaves. For black tea, on the other hand, you want the water as close to boiling as you can get.
Rajini Rao you have the art of making science interesting even to people like me. But I couldn’t miss the fine print like in bank forms – Highly Potential source of procrastination
All you need too know is put the water in the cup first and then add the tea-bag.
In India there is a saying
that in India Every one is a doctor and every time is a tea time 🙂
I love the “Biscuit Deployment Zone” in the graphic.
Walkers shortbread? …Mmm
Pl. Read in history 1St tea developed 6800 yrs ago
Yes, well done, Satyr Icon! Wood betony (lamb’s ears) is also used for herbal tea (tastes like apple it seems), but it has larger leaves and pinkish flowers.
Tea IS for girls. Sheesh.
LOL, Michelle Beissel ! Blue heads could be girls or boys, you know.
Thanks, Raj. Rajini Rao
Rajini Rao I am late for tea, so sorry! Tea is truly a wonder beverage, it revives and invigorates when you are tired, it relaxes and calms you when you are stressed. The caffeine has the stimulating effect while the L-Theanine has the calming effect. Thanks for the Chemis-Tea, I love the poem too!
As a tea expert, Siromi Samarasinghe can confirm that tea consumption is gender neutral.
I think tea is for boys AND girls, though boys may prefer something stronger, sometimes?
Thanks, nice poem too:)
I like tea in all its forms, but nothing beats a hot cup of ginger & cardamom laced masala chai 😉
Arun Shroff , same here! Ginger and cardamom are my favorite spices for masala chai. I save the husks of cardamom pods in my tea caddy 🙂
That’s really good and I don’t have to read a wiki to know that’s good for you too. 🙂
Rajini Rao I add cinnamon to my masala chai, as I posted a while back.
I like cinnamon in my coffee. I’ll try it in my tea as well.
Rajini Rao Glad to meet a fellow masala chai lover 🙂 Hmm… saving cardamom husks…what exactly are they good for?
Arun Shroff , when I use cardamom in cooking Indian food, I use only the seeds inside the pods (rarely, I throw the whole pod in..as in a pulao). Instead of throwing away the husk, my thrifty mother used to pop them into the container of loose tea. They smell wonderful, and the next time you make tea, just include the husks in the scoopful. 🙂
Rajini Rao Ah, very thrifty indeed – reusing the cardamom husks for their aroma! Incidentally, if you increase the amount of ginger & cardamon in the chai it becomes a pretty effective antidote against the common cold too.
That’s our favorite comfort drink when we feel a cold coming along. I throw in pepper corns and cloves too. Anything to numb the throat.
Rajini Rao I grow basil down here in Texas and it has in the flowers and seeds just as much eugenol as cloves.
That stuff is strong and grew throughout the whole season until frost. All I gave it was fish water.
Fish water is water that fish swim in, or…?
Just the change water. I have all those fish and they poop a lot. Now, the fish are outside in a larger pool and I’m not having that problem like with growing fish in an aquarium.
Those Tilapia can take some high nitrate levels but you have to do something to get rid of the excess. Water changes and sometimes RO if you can afford it, but that’s just for aquarists really. My setup will cycle water through plant systems. Really not sure how I’m going to go with that but I have some time. ha not much. 🙂
PS You don’t need to post any links. 🙂 I know.
Might be a little off topic, but it’s all tea.
Fish tea, haha.
We pour the water that we use to wash the fish before cooking, as fertilizer to plants. Some plants thrive on it.I thought Jim Carver meant something like that by ‘fish water’.
All these secret thrify tips, love it! 🙂
I should have said fish change water.
Has anyone asked the crucial questions – milk or water first?
Surely, water first? 🙂 What do you do, Mohammed Rafiuddin ?
Indian masala chai can be made by boiling a mix of water, spices and milk together before adding the loose leaf, since the final product is quite a strong concoction. But standard (English?) tea is usually made, IMO, by adding tea to hot water and milk only after it has steeped.
Guess it depends if you want your proteins coagulated or not. 😉
When I make masala chai, I get the water going first then add the milk before the water boils.
Milk towards the end is one way, but I prefer towards the middle especially when adding ginger and cardamom.
That would work well too, Chad Haney. Either way, one wants to avoid cooling the water with milk before the tea has steeped.
I see we have every variant listed here: milk in the beginning, middle and end..and I’m sure plenty of folk add milk at the end of steeping process (before pouring).
We ought to have a tea-off contest 🙂
I think I’d rather have my milk in the biscuits. ;)Or even better buttermilk and/or yougurt.
If I’m making just a cup, then I add the milk after steeping. I also don’t bother with the spices if I do a single cup.
Masala chai has many variants 😛
Chad Haney , agree. It’s not like I have spices in my tea every time. Masala chai is enough of a production for it to be best with company. Jim Carver , milk is commonly used only when the brew is very strong. If it is a light, delicate tea (or a green tea)..definitely no milk, unless one is partial to dishwater.
According to the instructions given on a sample packet of black tea I got from the Tea Research Institute, this is the way to make ‘a perfect cup of tea’: “Boil freshly drawn water. Heat the pot and other utensils with hot water. Use one teaspoon of tea per person and one extra for the pot. Pour required amount of hot water to the pot when water has just reached boiling point and close the lid. Let the tea stand between 3 to 5 mnutes. Stir the tea in the pot before pouring. You may add milk and sugar according to your taste” May or may not be the perfect cup of tea since individual preferences vary and tastes differ!
Definitely agree about the greywater. Rajini Rao
“Royal Society of Chemistry has announced the answer to a question that for generations has shattered households, sundered friendships, splintered relationships: the milk should go in first. It is all to do with denaturing milk proteins, according to Dr Andrew Stapley, a chemical engineer from Loughborough University.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/jun/25/science.highereducation Rajini Rao
Mohammed Rafiuddin Sure seems like bunk to me. haha
Rajini Rao Maybe the chemistry of masala chai – what with its exotic spices. milk, denatured proteins etc – deserves its very own post – you could call it chai-mistry :)!
Excellent pun-ditry, Arun Shroff !
Thanks for the hilarious article, Mohammed Rafiuddin . I’m going to run a controlled experiment the next time I make tea, with blind testing (and tasting).
Add water to milk
Or milk to water?
As the chemist ilk
Say you oughta.
Pretty funny honey…oh well, see how ya are? Milk this thread to the bitter end. that’s a lol
Rajini Rao thanks ! good luck with the experiment – do let us know when you have it down to a tea 🙂
Jim Carver , actually the milk keeps the tea from tasting bitter. No honey, but sugar and spice and all things nice 🙂
Rajini Rao I was just teasing…don’t get your bag in a huff. 🙂 Sorry, that didn’t sound right…maybe don’t tee your leaves off?
Haha, I’m not tea’ed off Jim Carver . Was I letting off some steam? It would be a case of the pot calling the kettle…
I know that’s kind of weird to think about so onward, through the tea…
You can link to my masala chai post cuz I’m on mobile.
This one, Chad Haney : http://goo.gl/bGjW8
Are you reading the future in the tea leaves, Jim?
I posted the link to this thread so let’s all link to it https://plus.google.com/u/0/114601143134471609087/posts/WeDz8Mud9CF and get 500 and max this t-thread out. Less than 400 to go…come on tea lovers. Let’s make this the quintessential tea thread on g+. And I mean yay, I mean tay.
Rajini Rao Nah, not really, I just go on some good intuition and some half-ass telepathy. Can’t tell which one is the real one. Depends on how well I know the person.
Swirls in the cup or stars never did anything for me.
Jim Carver , for that we’d have to get this Pot to What’s Hot.
That would surely fill this stream with tea-ribble single word comments like nice and hi 🙂
Ewwee, wouldn’t want that Rajini. Well maybe I’m too ambitious for our own good. I think we should try to keep it going for a little while. I was thinking of a little more substance but I know the nature of the game.
Almost time to transfer what we learned to our blog/website? Almost.
Rajini Rao Actually, this post should already be on What’s Hot – given the number of shares/+1s and comments.. But just checked the What’s Hot stream and it is not on it which is pretty surprising – since I see many posts there with far fewer shares/+1s etc.
Arun Shroff It’s okay, this has a cult following now. We have only touched the surface of the tea…and there is more tea within.
Besides that…don’t get too popular. We might get associated with the Tea Party. Wouldn’t want that.
If you really want to get this filled up to 500 comments, we just have to offer tea after Yonatan’s dinner party.
Chad Haney That would work! haha
I should have said 500 good ones. Sorry, I got caught up in the moment. I might have a friend stopping by who knows a lot about tea. She’s an herbalist and a very fine person as well. Her name is Suzanne Catty .
Jim Carver Yeah – We certainly wouldn’t want our communi-tea being mistaken for the Tea Party!
Suzanne Catty is in my circles already, Jim Carver 🙂
Chad Haney Oh cool!
I’m surprised she was not in mine since we’ve interacted on many posts. She is now, thanks!
I’m better at collecting Canucks.
Thanks guys, she is a true friend of mine. You may not agree on everything, but she certainly has conviction. 😉
Agreed Jim Carver 🙂
am a bit late to this convo but having lived in Toronto’s Greek town for a decade and travelled a lot in that part of the world, the mountain tea is a true fave.
The old Greek women, all in black, literally line up at the stores when the new crop shipments arrive in early autumn. They buy huge bundles and some even rip open the packages and chew on the leaves while waiting in line to pay.
Chemistry is predominantly carvacrol and thymol, hence the local name Greek oregano. Fresh it’s like eating a hot pepper, will rip your taste buds right off. The high phenols provide the antibacterial, antifungal and some antiviral properties. Makes short work of any infection. You can use it for tea or for steam inhalations when mucus is an issue. It’s used both as a prophylactic to prevent getting sick and also as a treatment if you do succumb.
The Greeks also sell honey from mountain tea, very thick, crystal clear and my first choice for wound healing honey as it’s a fraction of the price of manuka and although not quite as jelly-like has excellent osmotic properties for drawing out infections.
Thanks for the information on mountain tea, Suzanne Catty . I’d love to try some..at the very least, it would feel good on a cold winter’s day!
My daughter tested the antifungal properties of oregano oil in her high school project. We then expanded the study to look at the terpenoid phenols (carvacrol, thymol and eugenol)..all very potent antifungals. It was a fun project and we took it all the way to the cellular and molecular level, ending up publishing a paper on it. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20921304
Rajini Rao awesome, oils are my primary modality and it’s such an exciting field these days as there is tons of new research weekly. Wonderful to add this to the collection. I’ve got scads of info if you ever want to discuss the therapeutics, in fact Jim Carver and I are planning some hangouts talking about natural health care just like this.
Suzanne Catty You know Suzanne I had never heard of it (mountain tea) until this post. You know I’m quite embarrassed about that, but what can I say?
I first thought it looked like sage or even some form of oregano but it didn’t really fit with those completely.
Anyway, I think it’s more important to recognize the compounds for what they do, and not be so concerned with which plant they came. I have a new respect for that basil with all that eugenol than I did before. 🙂
Thanks for the information Suzanne Catty Nice to know you are interested in essential oils. Sri Lanka being a tropical country is home to so many aromatic plants. I am not sure if Sideritis syriaca grows here though. We also have many medicinal herbal teas. People here are used to drinking black tea with ginger, lemon or cinnamon.
Siromi Samarasinghe Thanks! I think we are going to add some things to the product line that Suzanne has. One thing that I am familiar with is Thuja . We used to make that tea.
It’s actually a concentrated extract that can be used topically and applied for skin cancer and internally for other types of cancer.
I don’t really care what the FDA thinks about it. I just know that it works and I know how to make it. We should have that in the product line pretty soon. At least the topical for skin cancer. The stuff you take internally will take a little longer. I know that this works as we had a doctor that we made it for, he outlived all his doctors that said he was going to die. Of course that’s just one case, but there are many others.
Something to bear in mind through this discussion: http://goo.gl/B3xKc and http://goo.gl/g6iE4.
There’s many a slip ‘twixt the tea cup and the lip 🙂
Some components of herbal extracts have been tested in culture and animal models, and extensively published..although it is very difficult to take these all the way to clinical trials. NCI is running trials on curcumin (turmeric) in cancer chemotherapy.
At least, tea drinking is a venerable old custom and can include all manner of comfort, from social to psychological to possibly chemoprevention.
But I drink my tea, i.e., it’s not topical.
Teapically, most take small sips.
I was trying to stay on topic while avoiding taking a few lumps.
That’s just sweet talk.
I prefer most tea unsweetened, and in a mug.
Some of us have sweet mugs.
There are many claims about the benefits and therapeutic effects of herbal teas in Ayurveda, which is popular in Sri Lanka. We have tried to work out a scientific basis for these claims, to isolate active components from the plants etc., but have not been successful because the native physicians who practice Ayurveda have been very reluctant to extend their cooperation. Sure, the treatment works for some, but how safe is it, What is the scientific explanation?
My friend at the FDA is in charge of supplements. His Ph.D is in pharmacognosy.
Chad Haney With a minor in pharmacaecitas.
I love this impressive
I realy love this impressive so nice