By Mark Davis BHSc (TCM).
Asian countries have a rich tradition of using herbs in traditional medicine; one of the simplest things we can do for good health is using healthy teas to improve our health when used appropriately.
From Green, Pu’er, Oolong, Loquat, Dokudami, Omija to Hawthorn tea and beyond, I have long enjoyed these tasty teas on a daily basis for many years; with their vibrant colours people often exclaim ‘what are you drinking?’
I enjoy them Hot in the morning and during the cooler months and slightly chilled during summer, even kids can adapt to the taste and in Asia they are often enjoyed in place of soft drinks, calorie free!
The results can be subtle for occasional use, or marked if you make a conscious effort to follow a particular tea as a health regime.
We’ve all heard about the life prolonging benefits of green tea (especially Sencha & Matcha) the health benefits include antioxidants & disease fighting catechins and rich vitamins profile with moderate caffeine levels for a ‘pick me up’ effect.
The leaves of Camellia Sinensis and its many sub species are unprocessed and plucked from buds at the apex of the plant. It contains high levels of free radials for cellular stress, it boosts metabolism, reduces cholesterol and stimulates the brain to improve memory. It is said to have anti-cancer properties -research is continuing particularly for prostate cancer.
Matcha powder is also a great addition to homemade puddings and desserts. Overall green tea has a cold nature and whether drunk hot or cold, it may not be suitable for people who yearn for a heat pack on their belly.
People often laugh when I tell them I’m serving them ‘poo er’ tea, unfortunately it doesn’t do what it sounds like it might; however it is great to harmonise digestion.
An oxidised, aged form of fermented tea leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant are mostly produced in the Yunnan province of China. In China Pu’er tea is revered for its weight loss benefits, cholesterol reducing and cardiovascular protective benefits.
The microorganisms that ferment the tea have been shown to compliment a healthy gut flora with aids digestion for heavy meals and this is the tea you will often find served at Chinese restaurants in conjunction with Yum Cha.
It varies hugely in price, its not necessary to buy the crazy expensive ones, however the cheapest are likely to be a waste of money.
Partially oxidised leaves of the Camellia Senensis plant are popular in Japan as both a hot and cold beverage often enjoyed after meals, favoured for its effect of being able to metabolise fatty foods.
Additionally regular consumption of Oolong tea is said to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower the risk of cancer through its high antioxidant content, promote healthy blood sugar levels and decrease inflammation.
Oolong is great to be enjoyed all day long, take it in your drink bottle as a water replacement.
Loquat Leaf Tea:
Loquat trees are native to the southern parts of China, Korea and Japan, the leaves form the basis of a famous Chinese Medicine Cough formula called ‘Pei Pa Koa,’ it is a traditional cure for itchy skin, dermatitis and as a treatment for coughs and bronchitis
Loquat leaf tea, or ‘biwacha’ is also high in antioxidants so helpful to support immunity, while also being highly beneficial in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and even said to be beneficial to pancreatic cells.
It is also highly favoured for its ability to aid in removing toxin accumulation in the body to aid the skin and liver health, it contains a substance called Amygdalin (B-17)(also found in peach kernels) B17 is a currently experiencing a research spike in western laboratories for cancer trials.
Houttuynia Cordata is a flowering invasive ground cover native to Asia. It grows in dark moist areas, sometimes called “fish-smell herb” and its common name ‘Dokudami’ means “poison-blocker” in Japanese.
Dokudami has natural anti-histamine effects, which may be beneficial for allergies and for asthma. It is again a good source of antioxidants, and has he ability to neutralise free radicals while also supporting the lymphatic system to maintain the body’s natural health defences.
Dokudami is a popular home remedy in Japan for allergies, detoxifying and even for skin rashes; its purported benefits include an anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal function while also having a mild laxative and diuretic effect.
Dokudami is one of the main constituents often found in detox foot patches.
Is a popular iced summer tea from Korea. Omija is also known as Schizandra or ‘five flavour berry,’ and it is often used in Chinese Medicine herbal prescriptions. Used as an infusion is has some benefits such as improving liver and kidney function, boosting circulation, good for the skin and makes us resilient to stress. Some herbal traditions ay that this wonderful berry has anti-ageing benefits!
This tea may not be suitable to everyone it should be used with care for people who suffer from heartburn or those who suffer from phlegm on the chest, or sinus infections.
Hawthorn Berry is often called ‘the heart herb’ for good reason, even when you look at a Chinese Hawthorn Berry slice it resembles the side profile of an artery itself (there is a lot of symbolism in Chinese Medicine). It is said that the cardio protective effects include angina, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and even irregular heart beat. Even the Native Americans used hawthorn for heart and gastrointestinal complaints.
Similarly in Chinese Medicine the hawthorn fruit called ‘shan zha’ is used for an overloaded digestive system after overindulgence of meat products in particular (in addition to the heart and blood moving benefits).