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Tea

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  • Botanical: Camellia sinensis
  • Family: Theaceae
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Tea

Botanical

Camellia sinensis

Family

Theaceae

Known as

Black Tea, Schwarztee

Old Use

culinary, medicinal use

Collection Times

July and August

Parts Used

leaves

Medicinal

antiseptic, anxiety, bowel cleansing, colds, constipation, diarrhea, digestion, exhaustion, nervousness, pain relief

Heart & Circulation

angina, vascular

Hormone & Sexual Organs

cramps

Infection & Inflammation

flu, immunity, infections, skin inflammation

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, fatigue (exhaustion), insomnia, irritability, memory, pain relief

Respiratory System

asthma, colds

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, diarrhea, digestion, liver weakness

Properties

antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, stimulant

Description

A small evergreen shrub cultivated to a height of 7 to 8 feet, but growing wild up to 30 feet high, much branched. Bark rough, grey. Leaves dark green, lanceolate or elliptical, on short stalks, blunt at apex, base tapering, margins shortly serrate, young leaves hairy, older leaves glabrous.

Flowers solitary or two or three together on short branchlets in the leaf axils, somewhat drooping, on short stalks with a few small bracts, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide; sepals five, imbricate, slightly united below, ovate or rounded, blunt smooth, persistent; petals usually five or up to nine, unequal, strongly rounded, concave, spreading, white, caducous; stamens indefinite, adherent to petals at base in two rows, filaments fiexuose, half the length of petals; anthers large, versatile; ovary small, free, conical, downy, threecelled with three or four pendulous ovules in each cell; styles three distinct or combined at base, slender simple stigmas. Fruit a smooth, flattened, rounded, trigonous three-celled capsule; seed solitary in each cell; size of a small nut.

Properties & Uses

Other Uses

An essential oil is distilled from the fermented and dried leaves. It is used in perfumery and in commercial food flavouring. A non-drying oil is obtained from the seeds. Refined teaseed oil, made by removing the free fatty acids with caustic soda, then bleaching the oil with Fuller's earth and a sprinkling of bone black, makes an oil suitable for use in manufacture of sanctuary or signal oil for burning purposes, and in all respects is considered a favourable substitute for rapeseed, olive, or lard oils.

The oil is different from cottonseed, corn, or sesame oils in that it is a non-drying oil and is not subject to oxidation changes, thus making it very suitable for use in the textile industry; it remains liquid below -18deg.C. A grey dye is obtained from the pink or red petals. The leaves contain 13 - 18% tannin. The leaves also contain quercetin, a dyestuff that, when found in other plants, is much used as a dye. The quantity of quercetin is not given. Wood - moderately hard, close and even grained. It is very good for walking sticks.

Traditional Use

medicinal use 

The tea plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. Modern research has shown that there are many health benefits to drinking tea, including its ability to protect the drinker from certain heart diseases. It has also been shown that drinking tea can protect the teeth from decay, because of the fluoride naturally occurring in the tea. However, the tea also contains some tannin, which is suspected of being carcinogenic.

The leaves are cardiotonic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and astringent. They exert a decided influence over the nervous system, giving a feeling of comfort and exhilaration, but also producing an unnatural wakefulness when taken in large doses. They are used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis and gastro-enteritis. Tea is reportedly effective in clinical treatment of amoebic dysentery, bacterial dysentery, gastro-enteritis, and hepatitis. It has also been reported to have antiatherosclerotic effects and vitamin P activity. Excessive use, however, can lead to dizziness, constipation, constipation, indigestion, palpitations and insomnia.

Externally, they are used as a poultice or wash to treat cuts, burns, bruises, insect bites, ophthalmia, swellings etc. Only the very young leaves and leaf buds are used, these can be harvested throughout the growing season from plants over three years old and are dried for later use. Teabags have been poulticed onto baggy or tired eyes, compressed onto headache, or used to bathe sunburn[

 

Cautions

Care in patients with heart disease and in those with increased thyroid gland activity. Do not exceed 300mg/day if Pregnant (5 cups). Children may develop anaemia if excessive amounts. Hapatitis possible if products have high doses of green tea extract. Long-term intake over 1.5g caffeine per day can lead to: restlessness, irritability, sleeplessness, palpitations, vertigo, headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea

Distribution

Native to Southeast Asia, from Sri Lanka and India to Assam and China, tea has been planted widely in tropical and subtropical areas. Near the Equator, it ranges up to nearly 2,000 m elevation.

Constituents

Caffeine (theine), tannin (10 to 20 per cent gallotannic acid), boheic acid, volatile oil, aqueous extract, protein wax, resin, ash and theophylline.