The Popularity Of Loose Leaf Tea And Whole Leaf Tea

Herbal tea has been a popular beverage in many cultures for thousands of years. The Ancient Asian peoples harvested loose leaf tea and whole leaf tea from many of the native plants found on that continent, as they continue to do today. The popularity of loose leaf tea and whole leaf tea has been adopted by modern cultures throughout the world.

The plants that have traditionally been used for loose leaf tea and whole leaf tea still come from China, Japan, India, Pakistan, and other parts of Asia. Yet there are other countries that are able to produce a substantial supply of these kinds of tea, due mainly to a similarity in climate and soil. Many parts of Indonesia and South America have climates that are equally conducive to the production of high quality herbal teas.

The yerba plant of Brazil in particular is very adaptable to loose leaf tea and whole leaf tea. The tea produced from brewing the leaves of this plant is often referred to as the �beverage of the gods�, which reflects the reverence that the Asian cultures have for their tea plants. The beneficial qualities of teas used by these different cultures are associated with the natural forces that are so often personified as deities and other entities in mythology and folklore.

The modern interest in loose leaf tea and whole leaf tea may be more practical in nature. The increased awareness of the healthy attributes of botanicals in general has included an understanding of the benefits of beverages derived from plants and herbs as part of a daily dietary regimen. The presence of high levels of polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in herbal teas of all kinds has led to a larger consumption of leaf tea by the general public in all parts of the world.

The hibiscus plant, for instance, has been found to have a positive effect on the reduction of cholesterol, and its ability to help regulate blood pressure has been well-documented. Green teas of all kinds – such as oolong, long jing, and the so-called �gunpowder� varieties – contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamins that have been verified to be highly beneficial to the regeneration of cells and tissue in the human body, as well as in preventing disease in general.

There are also other ways to manufacture loose leaf tea and whole leaf tea for consumption. One very popular type is based on a method used for centuries in east India and Pakistan, known as Ayurveda. This process combines several botanical elements to produce a very beneficial brew that achieves many health benefits at the same time. Rose leaves, licorice root, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and coriander are some of the ingredients in a typical Ayurvedica blend, and the way in which they are combined results in flavorful, aromatic tea that contains a great deal of vitamins, minerals, and other elements that are very supportive of optimal health.

These are but a few of the loose leaf tea and whole leaf tea varieties that are available in today’s herbal tea marketplace

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Herbal Teas Tasty Or Toxic

Have you visited the tea section of your local grocery store lately? If so, you’ve seen the dizzying array of herbal tea blends, brands and flavors. There’s no doubt that herbal teas are a huge commercial success, and they’ve been enjoyed for centuries. Many tea lovers buy them for their smell and taste. Others expect herbal teas to be a healthier alternative for other caffeine-containing beverages. Some buy them strictly for the medicinal benefits or effects on the packages.

These claimed medical effects can include calming, soothing, and relaxing. On the other hand, other high-caffeine tea blends may promise increased energy and concentration. Green tea remains a top-seller for its legendary health effects. Is there a dark side to the booming herbal tea business?

Reading The Tea Leaves

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the responsibility to evaluate foodstuffs and medications sold to the public. Herbal teas receive very little regulation. Generally, herbal teas fall into a gray area between foods and drugs. Traditionally, the FDA has considered herbal teas taken only for taste and aroma to be classified as foods. Another FDA “rule of thumb” has been that any herb that is safe for consumption in food is therefore assumed to be safe when taken as a tea. However, the FDA has been taking a closer look at herbal teas and their effects.

Are Herbal Teas Toxic?

That’s a difficult question to answer, as the FDA is learning. The large majority of commercial herbal tea blends contain multiple ingredients in relatively small concentrations. These teas are quite safe to drink when used according to the product instructions. Problems arise, however, when people prepare their own herbal teas, deliberately concentrate commercial blends, have an allergic reaction to the tea ingredients, or the tea is incompatible with prescription medications.

What’s The Problem?

The problem is one of consumer awareness. Many plants and herbs used in teas have specific and measurable medical properties. Caffeine is one of the best examples. It is a naturally occurring ingredient in both tea and coffee plants. Problems are possible when uninformed persons attempt to medicate themselves with teas.

Some Examples

* Chamomile is reported by some to be both a relaxant and a digestive aid. The chamomile plant is a member of the same plant family as ragweed, asters and chrysanthemums. People allergic to those plants should be cautious of chamomile tea.

* Comfrey tea has been associated with two reported cases of liver disease in the U.S. In one case, the patient abused the herb by drinking nearly a dozen cups of comfrey tea daily as well as consuming many comfrey pills. This extreme herbal dosage continued for over a year, resulting in the liver ailment.

* Lobelia tea can cause vomiting, breathing problems, convulsions, and lead to coma and death when used in large amounts.

* Aromatic sassafras tea in large amounts has caused cancer in lab rats. Oil of sassafras and safrole are the major chemical components of the sassafras oil. These components were banned from root beer decades ago. Although sassafras bark is banned from all food use, extract that contains no safrole is allowed.

Should You Be Scared?

Commercial herbal tea vendors would never willingly endanger you, their customer. Commercially available herbal tea blends are expected to be very safe to drink when prepared according to their directions. Similar to drugs, problems with herbs arise when they are abused or taken in extreme concentrations.

These herbs, even those in commercial herbal teas, can have medicinal effects. Therefore you should always talk to your doctor before using herbal preparations, especially if you use prescription medication. Even if you are not on medication, stop any herb use immediately if you experience unusual symptoms. The symptoms may be an allergy to the herb, or something totally unrelated to the herb. Only your doctor can tell you for sure