Tea Facts

Tea – More than a Delightful Drink

We all have a cup of tea occasionally, and tea lovers like me can even absolutely not do without their large daily tea consumption. We drink tea to refresh ourselves, to warm up in winter, whilst leaning back and relaxing or simply because we love the taste. But hardly anyone ever questions what is actually hidden in tea. Some know that tea has caffeine, but less than coffee. But how much? And do all the teas contain it? Some have heard or read that green tea is very healthy. But why exactly? And what is white tea?

Let us start at the beginning. We are only talking about teas produced from the tea plant camelia sinensis here. The six kinds of tea sold by the Tea Fairy have the following in common: they were grown with biodynamical methods on the healthy soil of Makaibari, carefully plucked and processed. This makes a large difference not only in quality and taste, but also in their contents.

Makaibari produces according to Rudolph Steiner’s biodynamic methods and the tea estate is Demeter certified. The teas are loose whole leaf teas and have FTGFOP1 quality.

Tea Varieties

First Flush and Second Flush Muscatel are both fermented teas, but First Flush is made from the first fresh leaves plucked in spring. It is milder than the Second Flush Muscatel, which is a little darker in colour and has a richer, maltier taste.

Silver Tips Imperial and DarjOolong are semi-fermented teas. Silver Tips Imperial is plucked according to biodynamic principles during full moon nights and any description of its exquisite taste would be inaccurate.

Silver Green is a delicious green tea, i.e. it is not fermented. Makaibari Silver Green does not have that bitter note which can be found in many other green teas. Bai Mu Dan, a white tea, is also not fermented and even less processed than green tea (it is not rolled). It is very pale in colour and especially the Bai Mu Dan made of first flush leaves tastes wonderfully flowery.

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Preparation of Tea

 - Take one teaspoon of tea for one cup of tea, two for a cup of Bai Mu Dan.

- Take boiling water for First Flush and Muscatel

- Let the boiled water cool down to 70-80 Degrees Celsius (by leaving it for approx. 10 minutes) for Bai Mu Dan, Silver Green, DarjOolong and Silver Tips Imperial

- Steep for 3-4 minutes and strain. Bai Mu Dan may be steeped for up to 10 minutes.

- Darjeeling tea is best enjoyed without additions. Milk or lemon juice will destroy the delicate tastes. A little sugar or honey may be added if necessary.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It can have both positive and negative health effects. It may confer a modest protective effect against some diseases, including Parkinson's disease and certain types of cancer. Minor undesired symptoms from caffeine consumption are common and include mild anxiety, jitteriness, insomnia, increased production of stomach acid.

According to the analytical considerations following tests, and perhaps rather surprisingly, no correlation can be found between the fermentation level or the quality of tea and the caffeine content. Apparently, many different factors are affecting the caffeine content of tea, such as soil chemistry, altitude, type of tea plant, position and age of the tea leaf on the tea bush and cultivation practices.

In the case of Makaibari teas, First Flush has the lowest caffeine content, followed by Bai Mu Dan, Silver Tips Imperial, DarjOolong, Muscatel and Silver Green. By way of comparison, a cup of Silver Green still has only 30% to 70% of the caffeine content of a cup of coffee (depending on what coffee beans are used and how the coffee is prepared.

Antioxidants

Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are highly reactive with other cellular structures because they contain unpaired electrons. They are natural by-products of ongoing biochemical reactions in the body, including ordinary metabolic processes and immune system responses. There are a few environmental factors which increase free radical production. These include stress (emotional and physical), air pollutants, pesticides, smoking cigarettes, radiation (which includes UV rays from the sun) to name just a few.

This becomes a problem when the amount of free radicals is greater than the body can handle, and as a result they can cause some serious damage. Free radicals can harm parts of cells such as proteins, DNA and cell membranes by stealing their electrons through a process called oxidation.

Antioxidants have oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), which is also called radical scavenging activity, i.e. they subdue free radicals which damage cells by either reducing the formation of free radicals or by reacting with and neutralising them. Antioxidants can be found in many food ingredients such as açai berries, dark chocolate, pomegranates, red rooibos tea, etc. - and teas made from camelia sinensis.

Test results show that the radical scavenging activity decreases with the fermentation level of the teas, showing a maximal content of anti-radical structures in non-fermented white tea and green tea and showing lower contents in the semi-fermented and fermented teas. It can be assumed that the level of fermentation is inverse to the level of the radical scavenging activity.

Consequently, Makaibari Silver Green and Bai Mu Dan have very high ORAC levels. The ORAC level of Makaibari Silver Green is higher than the levels shown in publicly available data based on unspecified green tea, and it is even topped by the ORAC level of Bai Mu Dan, which is still about 75% higher.