On Thursday, September 18th in the prestigious building of the United States Department of Agriculture, in Washington DC, a very unique and diverse group gathered to hear scientific evidence pertaining to the Camellia sinensis plant. I was one of that group and one of the lovers of this plant. Camellia sinensis is the botanical name of the tea plant; the one and only plant where all true tea is derived from: white tea; green; oolong and black tea. Anything else called “tea” that does not contain the leaves of the Camellia sinensis is not linked to the research and results addressed at this annual scientific symposium.

In the Jefferson Auditorium, scientists from all over the world presented the findings from their studies. The scientists came from Japan, Scotland, Italy, Netherlands, Israel, and from universities here in the United States: Tufts University; University of Arizona;New York; Michigan; UCLA; as well as from the Department of Agriculture.

Financial sponsors of the event included The American Cancer Society, American College of Nutrition, American Medical Women’s Association, American Society of Nutrition, The Linus Pauling Institute and The Tea Council of America. Our thanks to you all.

SO WHAT DID THEY TELL US? Glad you asked.

Once we got through the scientific lingo and the accents from the various countries (which truly served to remind us of the diversity of the tea plant itself; its usage, and the love of it world-wide) the results were very encouraging to those of us in the tea business.

This is merely a summarized version of what was heard and in no way is an encouragement for anyone to cease medical treatment. One may, however, choose to very quickly increase their daily intake of tea.

TEA consumption can or may help:

Brain health, which may be both maintained and improved as one ages.

Brain cell function may be maintained (preventing brain cells from dying) and/or repair damaged cells by the EGCGs (polyphenols) in tea.

The health of the brain neurons may improve their abilities to combat stressors.

Tea impacts brain waves and possibly improves the mind’s ability to concentrate.

Theanine (an amino acid in tea) may actively alter the attention networks of the brain.

Tea affects the brain’s neurotransmitters to increase alpha brain wave activity which induces a calmer but more alert state of mind.

The theanine and caffeine combination in tea may improve attention allowing the mind to focus and concentrate better on tasks at hand.

A cup of tea contains 20 – 25 mg of theanine.

20 minutes after the consumption of theanine (tea) the blood concentrations increase and alpha brain waves are then impacted and last approximately 3 to 4 hours.

Cardiovascular health may be improved by reducing inflammation and improving blood vessel function by the flavonoids in tea.

Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant known to be biologically active and are found primarily in plant-based foods and beverages such as: fruits, vegetables, chocolate, wine and tea.

Flavonoids also provide antioxidants to help temper the inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein and reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Tea drinkers average almost 700 mg of flavonoids compared to non-tea drinkers at approximately 33 mg per day.

Diets rich in plant-based foods which have known potent bio-active compounds such as tea support the body from the chronic conditions usually associated with aging.

Tea contains bio-active compounds that have biological roles within all human cells.

The bio-active compounds in tea may have a significant effect on genes that impact cancer susceptibility.

Tea may shift metabolism to favor weight loss and better manage blood sugar levels.

Tea rich in catechins, a group of flavonoids found in green tea, may aid in weight management by reducing body fat and visceral fat, therefore possibly increasing resting energy expenditure and fat oxidation.

“The data presented at this year’s symposium extends the apparent benefits of tea beyond reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer to new facets of health. Preliminary studies suggesting an effect of tea on neurological function, inflammation, and weight management add to the robust science already demonstrating that tea is a healthful beverage,” said Dr. Jeffery Blumberg, PhD. FACN, CNS, Tufts University. “New results from nutrigenomic research should help identify those individuals who will benefit the most from drinking tea. Experimental and clinical studies likes these are continuing to expand our knowledge about tea and human health.”

Attending this scientific symposium is only more proof that tea continues to pique the interest of people all over the world, as it has for hundreds of years. A summary of a comment made by one of our UCLA scientists, Dr. Lenore Arab, PhD was that if this was a plant recently found in the jungles of the Amazon or even an unknown jungle and it had all the qualities and benefits that the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) has, people the world over would be stampeding to get it.

In my words now, the humility and gentility of this plant lives on. It waits for each and every one of us to discover it and savor it as the true gift it is to this planet. Isn’t it time for another cup? Or perhaps, your first cup with this new insight.

September 21st was International Day of Peace and Global Ceasefire set aside by the United Nations in 1981 and established for this same date each year in 2001. How many of you knew that? This was a day for peace, prayer, nonviolence, for celebration and for learning. How many of you will plan something to celebrate this occasion next year? It could be something as simple as sitting down with a cup of tea in total surrender and gratitude. I poured and served tea for five hours in celebration of this day at a wonderful and peaceful community in Palmetto, Georgia known as Serenbe.