Autodidact: self-taught


The Chemistry of Tea

by V. L. Craven

All of this information comes from Rajini Rao , a very smart lady on Google+.

• The Science of Tea: For 4,700 years, this infusion from the tender leaves of Camellia sinensis has been delivering a cupful of healthy antioxidants and good cheer. Did you know that tea is the most widely consumed beverage, after water? To celebrate the birthday of +Siromi Samarasinghe , who has a PhD in tea chemistry, here is some chemis-tea.

• Caffeine : Did you know that weight for weight, dry tea has more caffeine than coffee? But because more coffee is used per cup than tea, brewed tea has significantly less caffeine (~90 mg/250 ml).

• L-Theanine: A rare amino acid (γ-glutamylethylamide), found almost exclusively in tea, it has a calming effect on the brain. Theanine suppresses the stimulation by caffeine of brain excitability, reduces blood pressure and protects against neuronal cell death. It is a structural analog of glutamine, which is a byproduct of glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Theanine inhibits the transport of glutamine and dampens neurotransmission.

• Catechins: Up to 30% of dry weight in tea, catechins are a type of antioxidant also found in chocolate and wine (Mmm..). Catechins are classified as flavonoids and have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and cancer.

There are many other antioxidants and polyphenols found in tea. Tea is best drunk in company, but if you are alone, you can still have a tea party:

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
‘Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
‘Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.
-Jessica Nelson North


[Me again: The best part of this post, all of which is pretty fantastic, is that I learned there’s a PhD in tea chemistry! That’s brilliant.]

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