Tea Resources: What is Tea Made Of?

Tea Resources: What is Tea Made Of?

Jan 23rd 2019

One of the goals of The Jasmine Pearl is educating our customers on all things tea. We constantly look for ways to increase our own knowledge and experiences with tea. Besides trying new teas, we read a lot of tea books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, check out blogs, and visit other tea experts. In this ongoing series, we'll share some of these tea resources with you. Some will be old favorites while others will be new discoveries. Either way we're excited to share with you some top notch resources so you can geek out and expand upon your tea knowledge.

This round of resources focuses on articles that relate to what is in tea. We get a lot of questions about tea and health. From caffeine levels, to antioxidants, to what is GABA, to how does this affect my body? All of these boil down to two fundamental questions: "What is actually in tea?" and "How does tea affect my health?"

The first question is more easily answered than the second. When you break down tea into its different parts, there are several major components that are often talked about and researched. Caffeine and different polyphenols are the two most commonly studied and therefore we have more information about these two than most other constituents in tea.

The second question is harder to answer for several reasons. One major reason is that tea can react to a person's body chemistry in a different way than it would their neighbor, so it can be hard to talk about absolutes when it comes to health.

Another big reason is that we at the Jasmine Pearl do not offer medical advice, let alone have teas for specific health related uses. We're more concerned with taste and having delicious teas rather than teas with a medicinal focus. That we leave to the medical, health, and herbalist professionals, those who've studied long and are certified.

We can offer what works for ourselves, and what teas and blends we use. We also can point you to a variety of articles and studies that have been done by health professionals and scientists, like the ones listed in this post.

Two final caveats before the articles.

The first is that when you're doing research on your own, or even looking at your Facebook or other social media platforms, and you run into an article or study that makes a claim—read through it, look at the supporting research and cited articles, and make sure that it is a peer reviewed study. Taking these steps to check sources and validity is important when it comes to taking health advice.

The second and final caveat is to remember that tea is an agricultural product. This means that the constituents, chemical composition, and even flavor will vary from year to year, just as the weather, soil, and growing conditions change. So the concentrations of, say, caffeine, can vary from plant to plant and year to year.

With these things in mind, enjoy reading the articles we have collected for you.

An Overview of Research on the Potential Health Benefits of Tea
Tea Association of the USA, Inc.

If you're looking for a great entry into a general overview of the health benefits of tea, then this is the article for you. It clearly lays out the major research and findings on the potential health benefits of tea. Probably the most exciting part about it, other than having the information all laid out for you, is the giant list of cited papers and studies that they used when compiling all of this information. It represents the beginnings of the rabbit hole that this research can become.

Download/view the article (PDF).

Tea Chemistry
American Specialty Tea Alliance

This is a great overview of the major components in tea. Many of these tea chemicals have been categorized into broad groups, and collectively we have some idea of what happens to these groups during processing and what flavors and aromas they are responsible for. The most prominent group is polyphenols and it is here that the article starts breaking each group down to examine and dive deeper into. It ends with arguably the most noticeable group, the volatiles, those substances and compounds responsible for the aromas and flavors of tea.

Read the article here.

Tea and Health
Camellia Sinesis

While not a traditional article in the sense that it is a webpage for the Canadian tea company Camellia Sinensis, this is the information that helped spark a change in our understanding of caffeine and antioxidant levels in tea. The team at Camellia Sinensis Teahouse conducted, in collaboration with the College Centres for the Transfer of Technologies, TransBIOTech, a study on the levels of antioxidants and caffeine in different teas. The analyses were conducted so that the results reflect what the tea drinker gets at home, in the context of daily consumption. This is a great collection of data that shows that no matter the type of tea, there will be caffeine present and that our older assumptions of black and puerh teas always having the most caffeine are outdated.

Read the article here.

Caffeine and Tea: Myth and Reality
Nigel Melican

This final article sheds light on several myths and misconceptions surrounding caffeine as it pertains to tea. Melican cites several studies that work to disprove the "30 second wash" technique of decaffeinating tea and also tackles the convoluted discussion around caffeine levels present in different types of tea. A great read that breaks down the peer-reviewed study and paper written by the researchers Monique Hicks, Peggy Hsieh, and Leonard Bell. Melican also lists several other articles on the same subject that are great reads as well.

Read the article here.

Contributed by Tyler Peterson