An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Tea - Thea sinensis (Camellia sinensis) (Camellia thea) - family: Theaceae (Camellia Family).

This plant is a tropical evergreen tree that will grow to about fifty feet high. It has glossy leathery elliptic-to-lance-shaped dark green leaves and in the winter produces fragrant whitish flowers. The flowers are followed by woody capsules each of which contain three seeds. In the tea plantations, this tree is kept trimmed down to about five feet high for ease in the harvesting of the leaves. The young leaves and buds are usually harvested all year round. Tea is the familiar brewed drink made from the leaves of this plant. Green Tea is unfermented. Oolong Tea is partially fermented. Black Tea is completely fermented. Green Tea is sometimes consumed as a dietary supplement and may be of use in the treatment of arthritis. Within Green Tea are certain polyphenols (a type of flavonoid) which may have positive health effects including supporting memory. Extracts of Green Tea are thought by some to be of possible use in the prevention of arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis, cancer or heart disease. Tea is a significant source of caffeine (two to three percent) and is a mental stimulant. Caffeine is a bitter white alkaloid with the formula C8H10N4O2.H2O. Tea also contains large amounts of tannins, which can be an irritant. Tea is used in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine of India as a remedy for fever, nervousness and for being tired. Traditional Japanese use of green Tea as a remedy for diabetes. Modern Japanese (Kampo) use of green tea leaves in the medical treatment of some cancers. Some suggest that an extract of Green Tea leaf may possibly help slow down the aging process. Green tea has been used in recent times in America as a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery, fatigue, headaches, liver problems and migraine headaches. Modern American folk use of green tea as a remedy for eczema, flu, gum inflammations, menstrual cramps and obesity. Modern American folk use of decaffeinated green tea as a remedy for cold sores and for immune system support. Tea may be useful for those suffering from low blood pressure (hypotension). Cut tea leaves, conveniently enclosed in tea bags, have been used as a poultice for insect bites, sore eyes and sunburn. Tea bags are used in modern American dental practice as an astringent to stop bleeding. Traditional Asian folk use of tea as an aphrodisiac. Tea was introduced to England and Europe in the seventeenth century. Note: large amounts of tea may cause constipation, dizziness or insomnia. Note: if you are pregnant, use in moderation if at all, due to its caffeine content. It is interesting to note that caffeine is used by some plants to discourage insect attacks. In his brilliant and very readable book, A Neotropical Companion, John Kricher points out that caffeine is used by some plants to discourage insects from eating its leaves [Kricher]. In other words, caffeine is a sort of plant insecticide. Native to China in Asia. Cultivated mainly in tropical Asia. Several hundred cultivars exist.




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Web page last updated on 25 May 2003.