Tea

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis, (or tea plant) is the main constituent used in all "green teas" that you buy in the grocery or health food store.  The sinensis varieties are not as showy as other Camellias, but still make nice (and useful) shrubs or container plants for the home landscape.  The flowers are usually white, single, and fragrant.

Green Tea: Camellia sinensis is the source of all green teas, and the differences in taste of the different types of teas are the results of different processing techniques, and differences in individual plants. 

Green teas are made by allowing the leaves to wither in hot air, then pan frying or placing in an oven to halt the fermentation process.  Oolong teas are wilted in the sun, then bruised and allowed to partially ferment, until the leaf edges turn slightly red.  Black teas are fermented in humid, cool rooms until the entire leaf is darkened. 

Studies suggest that the Green Teas are the most beneficial for health because the leaves are not allowed to ferment at all, preserving the antioxidant properties of the fresh leaf.

Health benefits of taking Green Teas internally include relief from digestive disorders and gastritis, treatment of infectious dysentery, relief from symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, guarding against tooth decay, boosting the immune system, preventing and combating cancers, including breast, prostate, stomach, esophageal, pancreatic, liver, and skin cancers,  combating leukemia cells, decreasing risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, and possibly being of benefit in blood sugar regulation in diabetics. 

Preliminary studies also show that the powerful antioxidant effects may have a role in preventing the ravages to the body associated with aging, therefore making it a possible anti-aging substance.  It also appears that using green tea as a gargle may help prevent the onset of flu, as it appears to have some fairly powerful anti-viral properties.  Other anti-viral uses very probably include fighting HIV and AIDS, and certain strains of hepatitis C and herpes simplex.  As an anti-bacterial, Green Tea is believed to help prevent the growth of e-coli in the intestines.

Externally, green teas can be used for cuts, scrapes, wounds, cold sores, acne, and herpes sores.  The easiest way to gain these benefits is to place a used teabag on these areas for treatment (while simultaneously drinking the tea, of course!).

A green tea cream was trailed against a 4% benzoyl peroxide solution on people suffering with moderate to severe acne. The results from this research study showed that green tea was just as good in treating acne as the benzoyl peroxide. But benzoyl peroxide dries out skin causing itching or allergic reactions. Unlike green tea that has the added advantages of natural anti-bacterial properties and antioxidants, particularly epigallocatechin gallate which is 200 times more powerful than vitamin E at fighting free radicals. Green tea also helps to reduce inflammation, hormonal activity and aids in detoxification - which is all good news for acne sufferers. For acne it can be administered topically, often being used in creams, taken in the form of a pill or incorporated into your diet and drunk as a tea.

This last method is very popular (Green Tea with Honeysuckle is often known as 'Pimple Tea' in many Chinatowns) when drunk after a meal it aids digestion and helps to detoxify your system, getting rid of the toxins that can cause acne. Don't drink it with sugar, this will neutralize the worthwhile effects of the tea.