Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chinese Teas & Their Effects on the Body

There are many kinds of Chinese teas, but this presentation concerns six of them, classified by their color: Green tea, White tea, Yellow tea, Blue (ulong) tea, Red tea, and Black tea. Each of the teas are comprised of different ingredients - well, different leaves or preparations of leaves - and each tea has a specific effect or effects on the body.

Green Tea

Ingredient: made with unfermented green leaves

Effects: good for skin care, relieves hangover, inhibits the growth of cancer cells and reduces high blood pressure, promotes higher good cholesterol in the body

White Tea

Ingredient: young tea leaves with fuzz

Effects: has health benefits such as weight loss and cooling the body of excessive heat

Yellow Tea
Ingredient: unfermented tea leaves

Effects: promotes digestion (good for indigestion and lack of appetite), helps with weight loss, helps prevent cancers [effects are very similar to those of green tea]

Blue (ulong) Tea

Ingredient: lightly fermented tea leaves

Effects: has anti-cavity qualities from the blue enzymes, removed active oxygen which affects the aging of skin, relieves skin allergies, and strengthens the immune system by discharging alien substances from the body

Red Tea

Ingredient: fermented tea leaves

Effects: has anti-aging qualities primarily with helping to prevent aging of skin, has anti-cavity qualities because of polyphenols, helps with fatigue recovery and boost metabolism, helps discharge heavy metals from the body, helps with weight loss

Black Tea

Ingredient: fermented tea leaves

Effects: increases metabolism, strengthens the immune system with its polyphenols, helps break down fats, sterilizes many germs coming into the body


Rubus coreanus miguel Tea
(복분자 - very similar to the raspberry)

Ingredient: rubus berry

Effects: improves eye sight and memory, increases sexual stamina, induces urination

Cautions: possible allergic reaction, should not be consumed by people with hot body types as the tea increases heat, do not overeat

Cultural comments: Viewed as a men's tea, or at least is considered especially for men. Also for people with low "heat". This tea supposedly originated in a Korean fairy tale in which an old man takes a pee in a chamber pot and pee-ed and pee-ed and pee-ed. This pee-ing business is based on Korean traditional belief that pee-ing a lot symbolizes virility and man's ability.

Samul Tea (four medicine tea)

Ingredients: dong quai (당귀), boiled foxglove (숙지황), cnidium (천궁), white peony (백작약)

Effects: good for anemia, supports the uterus, prevents cramps, promotes healthy skin and a slim body

Cultural comments: best for women as it promotes good blood flow and for those with a "shortage of blood" (anemia). The 동귀보검, an historic 25-volume set of books compiled on health and medicine originally referred to samul tea as samul tang, suggesting it was more for medicinal purposes originally and not really something to enjoy with a meal.

Some Comments

(Comments in regard to the 6 types of Chinese teas) The present trend in the health world is to discuss the positive aspects of a marketed item, and teas and other beverages in Korea (like coffee and sports drinks and more) have become heavily discussed as to their "health" benefits. What is hardly ever mentioned is the fact that all these drinks have side effects on the body with some teas adversely affecting people with some diseases ... just an observation. The presentation was considered very good as a cultural presentation of traditions, but would lacking if the assignment were based on health aspects ... many people confuse these two aspects of judging/evaluating a presentation. Purpose of the presentation must be clear, and here the purpose was to give a cultural representation of something in a "food" category.

The information in this presentation (actually two separate presentations) was the research of notes and pictures from my students Oh Eun Jung and Eom Yun-sik (the six kinds of teas based on color) and Baek Ki Tae and Kim Woo Hee (teas for genders). Their presentations were very interesting and provided a lot of "food for thought".

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