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A tiny history of tea

Posted on April 27 2016

The history of tea is both fascinating and complex.  I love using this ingredient in particular because it possesses both medicinal and spiritual properties.  According to legend, the first cup of tea was created by chance (although we know that nothing happens by accident) when leaves from a wild tea tree drifted into a pot of boiling water of the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong. Tea was initially used for medicinal purposes, and only gradually gained popularity as a drink.  The Ch’a Ching, or Classic of Tea treatise, written by a Buddhist monk in 733 AD, was a spiritual description of the types, uses, and methods of preparing tea. Tea was introduced to Japan by a Buddhist monk on the early 9th century, but did not arrive in the West until the 16th century.  By the early 18th century, the British East India Company had established trading stations in Bombay, Bengal, and Madras. In the 19th century, the Company developed tea estates in Assam and Darjeeling. 

There are many different varieties of tea, but they generally fall into categories based on their level of oxidation.  White tea is made from the buds of the tea plant and harvested early in the season.  It contains just a small amount of caffeine while possessing high levels of antioxidants which defend against damaging free radicals to combat aging.  Green tea is slightly more oxidized, and is plentiful in catechins and polyphenols.  It is especially soothing to the skin.  Black tea is a fermented variety of tea derived from the same Camellia sinensis plant that produces green tea. Black tea ferment is an antioxidant which helps to defend against free radicals while softening and brightening the skin.  Tea plays an important role in both our Rice & Bamboo Facial Scrub, and our Black Tea & Licorice Root Brightening Cleanser.

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