Tea Mail – September 2004

The Big Tea Health News in August
The only news item of major relevance this month was the results of a study in Japan [6], which has found that women who regularly drink green tea run a lower risk of developing stomach cancer. Around 73,000 people took part in the research and were tracked over periods of seven to 12 years, comparing daily green tea intake levels in those who developed stomach cancer to those who did not.

For women who had at least five cups of tea a day, the risk of stomach cancer was 33 percent lower than those who drank less than a cup. The risk of developing cancer in the lower stomach was especially low. Those who knocked back five cups or more of green tea daily halved the risk of developing cancer in the lower stomach compared to those who drank less than a cup.

 green-ball.gif Other Tea Headlines in August
We have decided to broaden our tea news to include stories that are not just related to tea health. One very interesting piece of news from ZheJiang province could spell bad news for some tea importers and green tea aficionados alike [2]. Longjing tea from Hangzhou, one of the most famous teas in China, is facing a survival crisis because of over-use of ground water and drought. The result is a large drop in spring tea production and farmers are expecting almost nothing from the next harvest. This will inevitably affect the Longjing market around the world – with stocks being low, prices are bound to soar.

We stock a particularly fine Dragon Well LongJing but it is from slightly further away from HangZhou. This is because we insist on organic products, and Hangzhou city has become so overgrown and sprawling, the pollution it generates is affecting the surrounding farms that were traditionally the home of the finest LongJing.

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [1]

Nothing says summer like a fresh pitcher of iced tea
SacBee.com, 25 August 2004

When it’s so hot your feet seem to melt into the pavement and your throat is crackly, what do you reach for? If you are like many Americans, it’s iced tea that quenches your thirst.

After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, according to the Tea Association of the USA Inc. “Last year, Americans consumed 2.25 billion gallons of tea,” says Joe Simrany, president of the Tea Association. “About 85 percent of the tea consumed in the United States is iced.”

Until recently, Americans were unique in their iced tea preference. According to the Tea Association, in many other nations, adding ice to tea is something that just wasn’t done, but the idea is now catching on.

“It used to be true that iced tea was strictly an American thing,” Simrany says. “Iced tea is beginning to catch on in other countries such as Canada and Japan. It is only a matter of time before the virtues of iced tea are discovered by other countries as well.”

The American infatuation with iced tea has been going strong for 100 years, Simrany says.

“Iced tea debuted in 1904 at the Louisiana State Purchase Exposition in St. Louis,” he says. “The temperature was soaring, and the staff in the Far East Tea House couldn’t get any fairgoers to even look their way, let alone sample their tea. So they poured the hot tea over ice cubes, and the drink quickly became the exposition’s most popular beverage.”

Most tea lovers agree that the best tea is made by steeping. “It may seem like a lot of bother with so many instant and canned teas available at the grocery store, but if you want a truly great iced tea, the best way to make it is by steeping,” Shackelford says.

More…

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [2]

Drought forces LongJing tea production to shrink
Zhejiang Online, 25 August 2004

Longjing tea from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, one of the most famous teas in the country, is facing a survival crisis because of over-use of ground water and drought, reports Today Morning Express.

Wengjiashan, Yangmeiling and Meijiawu, where Longjing tea trees grow, have seen a large drop in their spring tea production and are expecting almost nothing from this summer harvest.

More…

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [3]

N.Ky. authors tout tea’s benefits
Kansas City Info, 23 August 2004

A Northern Kentucky couple who believe that drinking green tea has had numerous benefits for their health have published a book to help others. The Green Tea Lifestyle: One Couple’s Discovery of Healthy Weight Loss Without Dieting is the recent project of Gillian and Keith Bales of Alexandria.

The Baleses say that their new tea regimen has enabled them to lose weight and improve their overall health. “The health benefits of green tea have, of course, been known for centuries and extensively documented more recently,” Keith Bales said. “Green tea has been proven to not only speed up metabolism, leading to weight loss, but has also been deemed a wonder drug that can impact cancer, high cholesterol, hypertension and a myriad of maladies.”

The book documents their discovery process, contains tips on their approach, and contains several of their favorite family recipes. Cost is $14.95 plus shipping.

Buy it now from Amazon.com

More…

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [4]

U.S. tea consumption second only to water
Kansas City Info, 23 August 2004

The British may be considered champion tea drinkers, but in the U.S. these days, tea consumption is second only to that of water.

American Institute for Cancer Research – With about half of all Americans drinking it, we sip or chug twice as much tea as we did ten years ago, about six glasses of tea a week. What makes tea drinking in this country unique is our preference for enjoying it cold. At the moment, iced tea accounts for about 80 percent of our total consumption.

If the results of over 300 studies now underway confirm what we already know about the health benefits of drinking tea, tea consumption will no doubt increase. Mostly, we drink black tea. Green tea, which is somewhat higher in the antioxidants that give tea its health benefits, currently accounts for a tiny fraction of all sales, including those of loose, bags and the abundance of bottled, ready-to-drink choices.

More…

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [5]

Finding health benefits in tea leaves
LowCountryNow, 13 August 2004

After water, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world. This is good news, because tea offers important health benefits. Green tea was the first tea studied for its cancer-fighting benefits. Recent research shows that any tea derived from the leaf of a warm-weather evergreen known as Camellia sinensis has similar cancer-fighting properties. This includes all green, black and oolong teas.

The leaves of this tree contain chemicals called polyphenols, which give tea its antioxidant properties. Herbal teas are not derived from this leaf and so do not have this particular health-promoting chemical. Polyphenols, like other antioxidants, help protect cells from the normal, but damaging, physiological process known as “oxidative stress.”

Although oxygen is vital to life, it’s also incorporated into reactive substances called free radicals. These can damage the cells in our body and have been implicated in the slow chain reaction of damage leading to heart disease and cancer. Many studies have demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of polyphenols. They can stop the damage that free radicals do to cells, neutralize enzymes essential for tumor growth, and deactivate cancer promoters.

Iced teas can provide as much antioxidant power as hot teas. Keep them covered and refrigerated. Bottled teas often have a lower antioxidant level because they contain mostly water and sugar. Tea also has fluoride for strong teeth, virtually no calories, and half the amount of caffeine found in an equal size cup of coffee.

More…

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [6]

Study: Green tea lowers cancer risk
The Asahi Shimbun, Japan, 13 August 2004

An extensive study by a government research group has found that women who regularly drink green tea run a lower risk of developing stomach cancer. As for men, researchers were unable to find any significant difference.

The study was conducted by a group from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and headed by Shoichiro Tsugane of the National Cancer Center. Around 73,000 people in seven areas around the country took part in the research, which compared daily green tea intake levels in those who developed stomach cancer to those who did not. The men and women in their 40s, 50s and 60s were tracked over periods of seven to 12 years.

For women who had at least five cups of tea a day, the risk of stomach cancer was 33 percent lower than those who drank less than a cup. The risk of developing cancer in the lower stomach was especially low. Those who knocked back five cups or more of green tea daily halved the risk of developing cancer in the lower stomach compared to those who drank less than a cup.

More…

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [7]

Tea is Hospitable and Healthy
Fredericksburg.com, 1 August 2004

Whether it’s served hot or cold, brewed tea has incredible health benefits: lowering cholesterol and blood pressure; reducing risks of cancer of the stomach, lungs and rectum; and fighting certain bacteria, viruses and even tooth decay.

All teas are not created equal. Real tea comes from the leaves of one plant only, Camellia sinenis. The five types of tea depend on how the leaves are processed: Black and green are best known, but oolong, white and puerh teas are gaining popularity. Herbal “teas” such as chamomile, mint and others aren’t actually tea at all, but infusions of the different species of herbs.

The National Cancer Institute is investigating tea for cancer prevention. All tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins. The lighter the tea, the more health-promoting antioxidants it has. White tea is the lightest, most delicate tea, exposed to air only a short time after it is picked before being dried and packaged. Green tea spends more time being “oxidized,” oolong even more, and black tea the most. Puerh tea is a type of black tea that is specially aged.

Common teas in the country, such as Lipton hot and iced teas, are made from black tea leaves. When brewed fresh, iced tea is just as healthy as black tea. When mixed from “instant” tea powder, however, it contains negligible amounts of catechins, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Tea is good for the heart
Drinking tea may increase blood flow to the heart, according to a small study published last month in the American Journal of Cardiology. Studies released this spring following men in Athens, Greece, and women in Paris, France, found similar results: People who drink wine or tea (both of which have antioxidants) were less likely to experience heart disease.

Maryland researchers have found that giving people five cups of black tea daily helped their unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels fall by 10 percent, compared with a group not drinking tea. And another study found that when people drank four cups of tea daily after a heart attack, they were less likely to suffer a second attack.

Make that decaf?
Many tea lovers frown upon decaffeinated tea as having less flavor. You can make your own good-tasting almost entirely decaffeinated tea, according to the Tea Association of Canada. They say by brewing twice, you can take out nearly all the caffeine, which dissolves in water. The association Web site instructs you to boil double the water you would normally need and pour half of it over the leaves, brewing tea for about 30 seconds, then discarding the tea liquid and pouring fresh water over the wet leaves. The second brew has less caffeine, which can be important for pregnant women and people suffering from anxiety or irregular heartbeats.

More…

 green-ball.gif Latest Tea News [8]

Tea Keeps High Blood Pressure Away
Ivanhoe.com, 28 July 2004

A new study out of Taiwan suggests drinking tea may keep your blood pressure under control.

Researchers discovered people who drank between 120 milliliters and 599 milliliters of green or oolong tea a day for a year had a 46-percent decreased risk of developing hypertension than those who did not drink tea regularly. People who consumed more than 600 milliliters a day saw even better results. They reduced their risk of getting high blood pressure by 65 percent. The findings held true even after researchers adjusted the data to take other factors that could have led to high blood pressure into account, such as body mass index, cigarette smoking, and family history of the condition.

The study, which appears in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine, was conducted with around 1,500 adults ages 20 or older who were free of high blood pressure when the study began in 1996. Six hundred of the participants were regular tea drinkers.

The investigators offer a couple of possible explanations as to how tea affects blood pressure. First, they point out tea contains theanine, a substance found to significantly reduce blood pressure in hypertensive rats. Second, they note tea also contains polyphenols, which are known to reduce oxidative stress and have beneficial effects on the vascular system.

Given the high number of people around the world who regularly drink tea — the beverage is second only to water in annual consumption — the researchers believe the findings in their study could have a significant public health benefit.

More…

green-ball.gifFeatured teas for September – and special deals on WuLu NewTop Misty Green Tea
Each month we feature three of our teas – a chance to learn more about these varieties. For September, we have chosen one white tea, one black tea and one green tea.

1) WuLu NewTop Misty Green Tea – VERY SPECIAL OFFER FOR SEPTEMBER ONLY!

Seven Cups Wu Lu Newtop Misty Green Tea gets its name from the misty mountains from which it originates, and the tender buds, the new tops, that are picked. This emerald green tea is high in aroma, produces bright water and is mild and clean in taste – many typical green tea characteristics. Our special deals, valid only for September 2004, make NewTop an even more attractive tea for everyday drinking – a genuinely high quality green tea at a remarkably low price!

50g (1¾oz) – was $7.99, this month only $6.99
100g (3½oz) – was $14.99, this month only $11.99
500g (1.1lb) – was $63.99, this month only $49.99

2) Special White Peony White Tea

Seven Cups Special White Peony is a very high quality white tea. Known as Bai Mu Dan, it has a very high percentage of Silver Needle buds. The majority of the pluckings are two or three leaves and one bud. The tea is naturally dried in the sun, or under low heat in a very well ventilated building. The taste has a sweet, fruity finish. This tea comes from Fuding County, legendary as the area where the world’s very best white tea is produced. Our tea comes from a small farm that is on the way to being certified organic; they are in the second year of the process. We feel that this tea is so good that we switched farms from a bigger, certified farm. The farm has already attained the Chinese Green Food certification, and we really believe in this producer. Sometimes we support small farms in getting full organic certification – this is one of those cases

3) Lapsang Longan Black Tea – EXCLUSIVE to Seven Cups, direct from Lapsang Farm

Seven Cups Lapsang Longan is equivalent to the Chinese style of the famous Lapsang Souchong smoky black tea. It is only very, very lightly smoked, and has a rich, full black flavor. Like our Lapsang Souchong, this tea comes directly from probably the world’s most famous tea farm, Lapsang in the legendary WuYi Mountains. As with the original Lapsang Souchong, we have the exclusive right to export this tea, so our Lapsang Longan will be a new and unique experience for you. It has IMO (Swiss), USDA (USA) and OTRDC (China) organic certifications.

green-ball.gifNew Meng Ding YunWu adds a touch of class to “everyday” green tea drinking
We have just added a really great “everyday” green tea to our range. Meng Ding is the home of tea – the first area tea was ever cultivated, some 2000 years ago. At Seven Cups we have exclusive rights to sell this tea in the West. We have already introduced rare Green Bamboo and Sweet Dew to our range, in the upper end of the green tea category. Whilst these teas are for special occasions, our Meng Ding Yun Wu is an everyday drinking tea that is exceptionally high in quality for the price. We are rightly very proud of it and we know from our tea house sales that it’s going to be very popular.

There are also more additions to our sampler range. We now have two different samplers that offer an example of each of the six main varieties of tea (green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, puer tea and scented tea). Both samplers are priced at just $16.99, or $19.99 presented in a beautiful Chinese tea caddy. Our third sampler is a rare tea sampler, and is the perfect gift for the genuine tea connoisseur. It contains three of the legendary, very limited production first generation WuYi Mountain Rock Oolongs, and two exclusive green and one rare yellow tea from the world’s oldest tea farm at Meng Ding Mountain. A chance to try six of the world’s most famous, highest quality teas for just $44.99 ($47.99 in tea caddy).

Take a leisurely stroll around our on-line store.

green-ball.gifA message from Austin and our ‘mission statement’
“We are currently working on information on our site about how to judge and buy tea. I’d like to stress that we are trying to build our website to be as educational as possible, and if we can help people in their general knowledge of tea, and they then go on to use that knowledge to buy tea from somewhere else, that’s OK.”

“We know that it is hard to find good tea, and in America we have had very little exposure to good quality tea. Buying fine tea is like buying fine wine. It is a mystery for someone that has had no exposure to wine to walk into a wine shop and buy a good bottle of wine. Do I look at price; do I look at the bottle; do I try to find a familiar name? Buying tea is sometimes even trickier.”

“The diversity of teas is overwhelming, and the level of misinformation and misunder-standing is enormous. This is a long-standing issue in the tea business, going back to the days when Chinese tea merchants sold a lot of tea of questionable quality to Europeans, actively providing the misinformation that accompanied it. Another long-standing problem has been a lack of standardized grading. I don’t think that is a bad thing when it relates to handcrafted teas. How do you grade fine wine? Still, there are some guidelines that buyers can use to become better tea purchasers. Seven Cups, in the next month, will put together some of those guidelines along with related information to help people be better consumers of tea.”

“Please keep in mind that we also suffer from misinformation, but we are continuing to do research, and we feel it is always going to be an issue for us. We use the best sources of information we can find, which includes the Hangzhou Tea Museum, the Hangzhou Agricultural University, all of the current literature published in China, and information supplied to us by producers and farmers. There are also thousands of years of cultural legend to translate and sort through. One thing that is true throughout that whole period, though, is that good tea in very limited and the competition for it is fierce. It is amazing to us that we can get this high quality tea at all. It is perhaps a refection of the open market atmosphere dominating in China now. One has to keep in mind that high end Chinese tea has only been available outside of China for just a few years.”

“I’d like to mention our prices and how we establish them. Our prices are based on what we pay for the tea, not on the going rate for similar quality tea in the USA. I hate the idea that, just because our tea is selling cheaper, the price is a reflection on the quality. We know we are selling great tea. We know that there is a wide array of price and quality variations on the internet. We suspect that prices elsewhere are simply whatever the American market will bear. We may be forced to raise our prices if the prices in China go up, but if we can get our prices down in China, then we will pass that saving along to our customers.”

“I also want to remind people that we guarantee our tea. If you can find a comparable tea for a better price, or you feel that we have misled you in anyway, we are happy to refund your money. We are very dedicated to our customers. You are always welcome to call me toll free (866 997-2877) to ask questions, or just to complain! We want your experience with us to reflect our values, and provide you with the best tea experience.”

Our mission statement as a company is:

“Our mission is to provide excellent tea and tea wares to consumers. In doing so, we aim to enhance the lives of all the people that we do business with, from producers to customers, and of course our employees, through a commitment to quality and a dedication to integrity in our business practices. These values are to be the guiding principles when tough decisions have to be made.â€

“We live by these values and we want people to know that.”

Austin-sig.gifAustin Hodge,
President, Green Dragon Enterprises, LLC – Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas.

green-ball.gifWhat’s going on at the Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona?
As promised last month, here are the extended highlights from the feature in the Tucson Citizen at the end of July. We were delighted that Polly Higgins wrote this as such an informative, educational piece, and all the photos, by Renee Bracamonte, are from our tea house. We may be biased, but this is actually one of the best articles covering tea we’ve read anywhere. It begins to capture the essence of high quality tea and tea-drinking, and it’s well worth reading. See the full article here (it covers two pages.)

speech1.gifIt aids in digestion and is rich in antioxidants. It promotes cardiovascular health. Research indicates it can prevent cancer and osteoporosis. It’s inexpensive. And no, this magical substance does not taste like dirt. It’s tea, and an increasing number of Americans are drinking it.

“I never used to drink tea,” says Dr. Victoria Maizes, executive director for the University of Arizona’s Program in Integrative Medicine. But after reading the growing amount of research on the positive effects of tea, she has not only added it to her diet but recommends that it be consumed daily, “absolutely.”

“It’s important to mention that the herb teas are not true teas,” Maizes adds, as they do not contain such benefits as antioxidants.

The varieties of tea are numerous, but they can be broken down into six main categories, says Zhuping Hodge, a certified tea master and co-owner of Seven Cups teahouse with her husband, Austin Hodge. The categories are white (or yellow), black, green, oolong, aged tea called puer (pronounced poo-air) and scented teas, such as jasmine. Green tea varieties alone number 138, Zhuping Hodge says. Each category has its own benefits. Green teas are much higher in antioxidants than black teas, for example, because of the way in which each is processed.

“Green tea is the tea that’s chemically closest to the fresh tea leaves because people collect the tea leaves and dry them right away,” says Sherry Chow, a research associate professor with the Arizona Cancer Center. Chow, who says the center has been researching links between cancer prevention and tea since 1996, is head of a research project that, in part, is looking at the interactions between green tea capsules and other medications.

“Antioxidants help us in a lot of ways. They neutralize free radicals, which are created by metabolic reactions in our bodies,” Maizes says. Antioxidants are helpful if one gets too much sun exposure or undergoes chemotherapy or radiation, she says.

Research on black tea has shown that it can increase bone density, especially for women, Maizes says. None of this surprises Zhuping Hodge. She points out that tea was originally a medicine in China, dating back some 4,000 years. So at Seven Cups, 2516 E. Sixth St., she says, “We choose tea by what you need.” When a Tucson Citizen reporter recovering from food poisoning wandered in, for instance, she and her husband recommended oolong or puer tea, which are good for digestion.

“After something rich or greasy, I will pick an oolong tea that will help break that up,” says Don Kimon Lightner, an acupuncturist with the Providence Institute. Though Lightner drinks tea after every meal, he views it less in terms of particular health benefits than the overall way the beverage makes him feel.

“The making and drinking of it automatically makes you want to slow down and be more meditative and reflective, contemplative. That itself will contribute to health and well-being,” Lightner says.

The atmosphere at Seven Cups certainly assists in the pursuit of serenity. Warmed by Chinese redwood furniture and red lanterns, the teahouse promotes lingering over teapots and conversation. “It’s calming here. It’s nice to come in and talk with my friends,” says architect Todd Mion, 35, who drinks tea both for health and relaxation. His favorite tea is the fragrant Jasmine Pearl. “I like the flavor and scent.”

Jon Ryan, 58, was drawn to Seven Cups with his wife, Beth Ryan, last weekend for the first time in an attempt to learn more about tea. “We’re novices,” John Ryan says, standing near the register with bags of Imperial Oolong and Sweet Dew Green Organic teas. “I always seem to get wholly into something, like with wine.” Thinking of tea in terms of wine is appropriate, Austin Hodge says, as both are complex. “Tea is more akin to a fine wine than, say, coffee,” he says.

As all teas are not created equal, the best first steps are education and sampling teas. Zhuping Hodge teaches a weekly class on tea culture at Seven Cups. And tea-bag tea, while better than nothing, is generally thought of by tea experts as the hot dogs of the tea world. “Those are the kind of things the tea makers throw away,” Lightner says. “Leftovers go into tea bags,” Austin Hodge says. While tea bags are promoted as convenient, he says, “You can’t get simpler than throwing leaves in water.”speech2.gif

Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona   Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona

One of our delightful Jasmine-scented White tea balls. Our legendary Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) WuYi Mountain Rock Oolong

Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona   Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona

Welcome to the Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona Our President Austin Hodge and Tea Master ZhuPing enjoying a nice cup.

Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona

Part of the Seven Cups tea selection

Education in the Community
We’re not only putting on tea classes at the tea house, we are also educating the local community on tea and Chinese culture. This month ZhuPing gave a lecture to an entire ‘field trip’ of local middle school kids.

ZhuPing lectures at the Seven Cups Tea House in Tucson, Arizona

green-ball.gifFinally, our fully secure on-line shopping cart is live and accepting credit cards!
It’s taken a lot longer than we had planned, but we are now taking your orders on-line through our certified, encrypted, fully secure on-line shopping cart. As you will see, the store front has been completely reorganized, and many new varieties have been added. We accept all major credit cards, as well as still accepting payments via PayPal. Shipping is still with UPS, but can now be tracked through our tracking facility.