The Chinese already used the tea plant 4000 years ago, though its introduction to Europe occurred in the 17th century.
Tea Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific name: Thea Sinensis L.
- Scientific synonyms: Camellia sinensis (L) Kuntze.
- French: The.
- Spanish: Te
- Environment: Native to southwest Asia, China, and India, where it still grows wild. It is widely farmed in the former countries, as well as Brazil and tropical Africa.
- Description: Shrub of the Theaceae or Camelliaceae family grows up to 10 m high when wild and to 1-2 m when farmed. Perrenial, dark green leaves, and big, white aromatic flowers.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: Leaves.
Healing Properties and Uses
The tea plant leaves contain 1 percent to 4 percent of caffeine (called theine to differentiate its origin), tannins (15-20 percent), and one essence. Its effects are very similar to coffee, though less intense because tea infusions are prepared less concentrated. A cup of tea contains from 40 to 60 mg of caffeine, and a cup of coffee contains from 100 to 200 mg. Tea produces excitation of the nervous system, the heart, and the blood system and increases the secretion of acid juices in the stomach.
In cases of tiredness or fatigue, its use as a stimulant is an emergency remedy, which should never become habitual. Tea, like coffee, stimulates but does not provide us with any nutritional substance. Thus, its regular use provokes exhaustion.
Habitual consumption produces a condition called caffeinism: constipation, stomach acidity, insomnia, and nervous excitation. Frequent consumption of tea causes addiction, as with any other drug.
Due to its tannin content, it is used for diarrhea and colitis and as a digestive tonic in upset stomach or indigestion. There are plenty of plants that can constitute treatment for these conditions but lack the disadvantages of tea. In external use, it is employed as eyedrops for eye baths in cases of conjunctivitis.
WARNING! The tea plant must not be used continuously, not even as a medicine, because its caffeine content will provoke addiction (urge to keep on taking it) and tolerance (need to increase the dose), as happens with any other addictive drug. The use of the tea plant is discouraged in the following cases:
- Gastric and duodenal ulcers
- Pyrosis (stomach acidity)
- High blood pressure
- Heart dysfunctions
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should abstain from using tea because of the toxic effects of caffeine on the fetus or on the breastfeeding baby (it passes to the milk).
How to use Tea
- Infusion with 20-40 grams per liter of water, with a maximum of five cups daily.
- Eye bath. In cases of conjunctivitis, it is employed in a decoction with 30-50 grams of plant per liter of water. Boil for five minutes, so it is sterilized before applying to the eyes.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 185. Print. [tea plant]