How about a SuperFood that’s cheap, has no calories, is associated with relaxation and pleasure, tastes good, and is available everywhere, from the finest restaurants to the local diner? And how about if that food lowered blood pressure, helped prevent cancer and osteoporosis, lowered your risk for stroke, promoted heart health, played a probable role in preventing sunlight damage to the skin (such as wrinkles and skin cancer), and contributed to your daily fluid needs? Tea is all that. If you’re not sipping orange pekoe at the office, gulping refreshing brewed iced green tea on the tennis court, or enjoying some Earl Grey after dinner, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your health and longevity with tea, the world’s most popular SuperFood.
According to legend, the discovery of tea occurred quite by accident in 2700 B.C. in the reign of the Chinese emperor Shen Nung. As the emperor rested beneath a shade tree, a servant boiled some drinking water nearby. A breeze came up and blew some leaves from a nearby wild tea tree into the pot. The emperor, impatient to drink, sipped the water and was delighted with the taste. Thus was born a drink that is, after water, the most popular drink in the world. There air mine than 3,000 varieties of tea available around the world, and it’s a beverage that, because of its complexity and variety, attracts both connoisseurs and ceremony. From the British institution of tea time to formal Japanese tea ceremonies, no other beverage, save perhaps wine, inspires such ritual and debate.
While the savoring of tea’s culinary attractions is an ancient pastime, the health-promoting properties of the beverage have recently drawn wide attention. Interest in the medicinal properties of tea has ebbed and flowed over the centuries, but it hasn’t been until recently that research has confirmed ancient suspicions: tea—the simple, common beverage—is a healthy drink.