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Greening Your Spa With Organic Tea

By: Anna Wasserman
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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According to Chinese mythology, Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, who was an esteemed herbalist, believed in drinking boiled water for health. One afternoon, while sitting under a tree, a tea leaf fell off its branch and into his pot. Shen Nung enjoyed the flavor and health properties of this new infusion so much that he then began to cultivate it.

With a shift in the American consciousness moving more toward health and sustainability, the U.S. tea industry is booming. Americans are showing a strong interest in the meditative quality of teas, as well as becoming knowledgeable connoisseurs in the art of the perfect steep.

In 2004, more than 50 billion servings of tea were poured in this country alone, and it was listed as an ingredient in more than 269 new beverages, 83 new skin care products and 114 new hair care products. According to the “Tea is ‘Hot’ Report, 5th Edition,” conducted by the Sage Group International LLC, in 2005 U.S. tea market sales were estimated to grow to more than $6 billion and to more than $10 billion by 2010—particularly specialty teas.

The health benefits of tea

Once a tall tree, the tea plant was cultivated into bushes for easy picking; the top two leaves and the bud are harvested. It is grown in the humid, misty mountains of India, China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Tea’s origins incorporate herbalism, yoga and spirituality. In enjoying the art of a good cup of tea, quality is everything. Things to look for when choosing a variety include a full-leaf tea, which is organically grown and Fair Trade Certified.

The tea leaf is full of antioxidants, such as catechins and polyphenols, which help to combat the free radical damage inflicted by everyday life, including pollution and stress. The beverage also is known to be packed with amino acids and L-theanine, which elicit a state of calm, stimulate the mind, and heighten alertness and focus. Tea is an experience that elevates the mind and body, but its ritual is nothing new. Spiritual communities long have embraced the tradition of this age-old beverage.