Thursday, October 09, 2008

Foochow Jasmine Tea and Its Benefits

Jasmine Sean Connery

What has Sean Connery got to do with my posting today? Read on.....

Jasmine tea - the fragrant tea that most Foochow drink is actually world renown. To the Foochows of Sibu having a big pot of jasmine tea in the kitchen is a usual daily practice. Most Chinese men would have a cup of tea on his writing table. This is quite a normal practice for most business men.

Unknown to many of the younger generation it perhaps this practice that has made many of the Foochow elders enjoying a long and full life.

The Kwong Ang Primary School in Sungei Merah (at that time at the top of a hill)had a big wooden bucket of tea for children in the 196o's. It was placed on a low table easily reachable by the smallest of the school chilren. When children were thirsty they helped themselves to the fragrant tea. At that time I thought that the Headmaster was a very benevolent and caring man to provide this kind of tea service. Later in life I found out that most schools in China and Taiwan provided this tea service every day. And the tea lady was very much a part of the school's caring community.
My grandfather lived a long life and his favourite drink - jasmine tea.

Here are some titbits I can share with you in this posting.

Sean Connery does not usually drink tea but if he does he would choose the Yin Hao jasmine tea which is produced by the Foochows of the Min Valley which according to experts is the best place for tea growing in the world.

According to another tea expert who wrote" I have worked hard over the pass 12 years because great jasmine is not only about great fragrance, it is a balancing art between flavor and aromatics. The trick is to have an abundance of easily identifiable jasmine florals yet not allow the tea element to get lost."

Jasmine was imported from Persia during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). They became so popular that the Imperial Court of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) used fresh jasmine flowers to perfume the emperor's bedchamber. It has been said that the soothing aromatics of fresh jasmine is a powerful "mood enhancing" aphrodisiac.

The art of enhancing the tea experience by adding other aromatics and flavors also began during the Song Dynasty. During that period, the Chinese were still drinking powdered tea (steamed, dried and ground into a fine powder) and sometimes adding other powdered spices to enhance the flavor. The use of jasmine flowers to scent and add flavor to tea became popular during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) and the technique of scenting green tea with jasmine on a large scale was perfected in the southern city of Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province. Fresh unopened jasmine blossoms are harvested during summer mornings--the hot and humid summer air causes the blossoms to open and release their full aromatics during the night. The blossoms are then mixed with dried green tea leaves so that the tea can absorb all the fragrances from the flowers. The flowers are removed after a night of scenting and the tea is gently roasted to remove unwanted moisture imparted from the flowers. This process is repeated until the jasmine aromatics completely impregnated the tea.

Jasmine Teas are Good For:
1. Boosting Immunity
Polyphenols have been found to increase white blood cells, the "soldiers" which fight infection in the human body. Tea extract is one of the main ingredients in a medicine now widely used with a high rate of success in China to counteract the reduction in white blood cells which accompanies radiation therapy.

A study of Jasmine tea by the Fujian Institute of Traditional Medicine and Pharmacology found that tea heightened certain functions of the white blood cells in mice. Soviet researchers say that tea helps the body excrete harmful radioactive strontium 90 before it settles in the bones. Chinese sources say tea can help absorb strontium 90 even after it has lodged in the bones.

2. Helps prevent heart disease
Research indicates that tea may work against heart attacks, strokes and thrombosis. Tea contributes to this in several ways. Firstly it does this in a general way through its role as a gentle stimulant to the heart and circulatory system. Secondly, it strengthens and keeps the blood vessel walls soft. Thirdly, there is evidence that the phenols in tea inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract, which could help decrease the cholesterol in the bloodstream. Fourthly, it may decrease the blood's tendency to form thrombi, or unwanted clots. Often several of these functions operate together against a stoke or heart attack. Strokes and thrombosis often occur because the blood vessels have lost their elasticity. Rutin has long been prescribed to keep these walls soft.

3. Fights tooth decay
Tea has turned out to be a double-barrelled threat to tooth decay for both the polyphenols (tannin) and the fluoride it contains. Polyphenols tend to reduce the formation of plaque, while fluoride strengthens tooth enamel so that it can resist decay.

4. Tea against cancer
Considerable research is being carried out on the role of tea drinking in preventing cancer. Out of 25 papers related to health presented at the Hangzhou Symposium, seven reported on research on cancer and tumors. Green tea seems to get the best results, with Lung Ching preferred. Stomach cancer, the number one cause of death in Japan, is at its lowest rate in Shizuoka prefecture along the coast southwest of Tokyo. One explanation is that Shizuoka is a tea-growing district and its inhabitants drink large amounts of green tea.

Tea has some effect against cancer because it inhibits the formation or action of cancer-causing substances. Tea may block the action of nitrosamines which can cause cancer, said Dr. Han Chi, and associate professor at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene under the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. In a test of 145 types of tea, she and her colleagues rated green tea highest, with a blocking rate of 90 percent. Brick, Jasmine, oolong, and black tea followed in that order.

Another way tea may help fight cancer is through preventing cell mutation. The anti oxidation actions of the poly phenols in green tea inhibit mutation of the DNA in healthy cells, which can cause them to become cancer cells.

5. Longevity and Ageing
Long ago in China, tea was an ingredient in immortality potions favored by the Taoists, who were keen on that subject. Still today, perhaps as an echo of those beliefs, claims are made that tea drinking helps one to live to a ripe old age. While it is no magic fountain of youth, some of its benefits can be said to contribute to longevity (stimulation of bodily functions, strengthening the immune system, reducing the chance of heart disease and improving stomach functions). The fluoride in tea can strengthen bones and help ward off osteoporosis in the same way that is strengthens dental enamel.

You can savor it when you wish to capture the romance of summer moonlight, and/or you can drink it all the time with any food.
I hope you will carry on the good habit of drinking Fuzhou Jasmine Tea and enjoy a great life ahead of you. And to all the Sibu bloggers who have tea meetings with ML - enjoy your tea!! And Pau -s of course. And with mee sua also a longevity noodle may I wish you all double long life!!

3 memories:

Bengbeng said...

i had no idea of this interesting custom of serving jasmine tea. i was at Kwong Ann recently as aprt of my 'lion' duties. it is very modern now.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Very interestingly Rev James Hoover had a very good geographical sense. Most of the early Methodist schools were built on hills or at least higher ground. The Masland Church was placed in a very strategic position facing the river . The Bukit Lan Church faces the river too and is on a beautiful piece of land.

If you know Mr. Wong Soon Guong the brother of Datuk Wong Soon Koh he will be able to tell you the history of Kwong Ang School and the Sing Ang Tong.

Thanks for visiting.

Unknown said...

rooibos tea health benefits
I've never taste the jasmine tea yet. i hope it tastes as good as it looks!


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