TEA (green and white) (Camellia sinensis)
Parts commonly used: Leaf.
All teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis — the Tea plant. Where Camellia is grown, variations in weather and altitude, soil conditions, when leaves and buds are picked, and how these are withered and/or steamed after harvest result in not only the numerous varieties but also the vast multiplicity of Camellia’s energetics and captivating flavors.
Properties/energetics: Antioxidant, astringent, mood enhancer.
Systems predominantly affected: Nervous, mucous membranes, digestive, cardiovascular/Bitter; astringent.
Uses: The allure of Green Tea has recently entered the health food market due largely to studies on the physiological activities of its polyphenols. Recent studies show that the antioxidant constituents in this plant may have a strong effect in blocking the action of many carcinogens and inhibiting the development of cancerous tumors. Tea polyphenols have been shown to exert prostate cancer-preventive effects. Green tea may also play a role in preventing damage to arteries associated with a high-fat diet. The necessary dosage is somewhat high. (See the discussion of Pu-erh tea below.) The other major effect of Green Tea is due to its caffeine content. On the average, Green Tea contains about half the caffeine found in coffee and has a delightfully gentle, uplifting energy about it. Green Tea’s diuretic action has an astringent effect on mucous membranes. White Tea, the least oxidized of the green teas, has only trace amounts of caffeine and retains the highest level of antioxidants.
Combinations: Blends well with Lemon Grass and a little honey and with chai spices (Black Pepper, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Clove) to create a deliciously warming, uplifting beverage.
Affects on specific body types: This is probably the healthiest of all the caffeine-containing plants (Maté devotees will certainly challenge this statement), and, consumed in moderate quantities, it is a reasonable stimulant for the Monarch type’s sluggish nervous system. Besides stimulating the nervous system, being a diuretic astringent, it may also tighten overly relaxed mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract and help with excess water retention. Gastronomic Monarchs and voracious Warriors (and fast-food-favoring Seers) might want to take note: There is a particular Green Tea called Pu-erh tea that, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is known to dispel grease and toxins from ingested greasy foods and from diets heavy in meat. Researchers in China report that Pu-erh is the best of all teas for promoting weight loss and cholesterol and triglyceride reduction.
Preparations/dosage: Infusion: Start with cool, fresh spring water; avoid using hard water if you can. Use 1 rounded teaspoon of leaves to about 6 ounces of water. Steep for one to three minutes. The innumerable varieties of Green Tea, each having distinctive qualities, call for specific measure and ritual of preparation. Consider exploring the diversisty of this fascinating garden of Herbalism. To decaffeinate Tea, keep in mind that about 80 percent of the Tea’s caffeine content is released within the first thirty seconds of steeping. Steep the Teas as you would normally, but discard the water after the first 30 seconds. Add fresh boiling water to remaining leaves. The polyphenols are said to begin dissolving only in the third minute of steeping.
By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008
For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition