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The Science of Tea

Next time you reach for that cup of tea, consider that you might be reducing your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, obesity and bone loss, just to name a few benefits.  All that in a cup of tea! These were some of the finding at the Fifth International Scientific Symposium in Washington.

The meeting was at the department of Agriculture, a little appreciated arm of government. When you think of tea and health claims, the FDA comes to mind, but remember that the Dept of Agriculture was where the the colorful and erratically powerful tea tzar Robert Dick of Tea Act fame parked his cups for many years.

Back to tea: Despite tea’s increasing popularity, there is still an inverse relationship between extensive, hard science and tea’s benefits. For example, while green tea is touted for its properties in reducing coronary heart disease, reducing PSA scores in men with prostate cancer and weight loss, black tea and and notably pu-erh  get short shrift. One reason is the bucks aren’t there to fund black tea studies.  And pu-erh gets the “huh?” response, perhaps a legacy of Dick’s aversion to it (he banned it) and popular conception that it’s bacteria-filled smoked twigs and leaves. (One sophisticated presenter told LTR that she tasted pu-erh in Taiwan and  didn’t like it’s odd smoky taste. Anyway,  LTR thinks that pu-erh is going to be the hot drink of the future- and we’re not talking temperature here –  especially with the emphasis on good and bad gut bacteria, not to mention reducing high blood pressure and cutting fat. Then again, pu-erh is one of those teas that won’t let you go.

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