Oolong Tea

Oolong (Wu Long) Tea was first produced at Wu Yi Mountain in Fujian Province in the Ming Dynasty about 400 years ago.

Compared to Green Tea and Black Tea, Oonlong Tea is semi oxidized. Oonlong Tea are easily recognized by the appearance of the leaves which are black thread-like or ball-like when dry, and often tend greenish with reddish edges when infused. The flavor profiles can vary tremendously according to the tea maker’s skills and the growing conditions of the tea bushes. In order to generate a good flavor and aroma, many different production stages are required to produce oolong tea. The most crucial step in the production of oolong tea is fermentation.   As oolong tea is only fermented to some extent, it is also called semi-fermented tea. The tea consists of several dozens of kinds of leaves that have different flavors and aromas. In order to enjoy the flavor and rich aroma unique to oolong tea, Chinese have developed an art of drinking it delicately, called “Gong Fu Cha”, which involves drinking oolong tea by using a tiny teapot and a tiny teacup.

Recent scientific research, published in August of 2003, reveals that oolong tea may carry remarkable slimming and health benefits. Oolong is rich in antioxidants called polyphenol, which is found to be associated with the weight loss. When your body digests food, sugar and fat in the food undergo some chemical processes to form triglycerides in the liver and the small intestine. Triglycerides are then carried in the bloodstream into various other tissues in the body to be used as energy or stored as fat. Excess amounts of triglyceride will be deposited within fat cells. The excess accumulation of triglyceride in the body causes obesity. Polyphenol in oolong tea activates the enzyme that is responsible for dissolving triglyceride. Researches have revealed that the continuous intake of oolong tea contributes to enhancing the function of fat metabolism and to controlling obesity. In a recent study, 102 Chinese women who drank four cups of oolong tea per day (the brew from four 2 g tea bags) lost over a kilogram of body weight during a 6-week period.

Another important constituent in Oolong tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been extensively studied as a potential treatment for a variety of diseases, including cancer. Epidemiological data have suggested that EGCG may provide protective effects against hormone related cancers, namely breast or prostate cancer. EGCG may cause cancer cells to die. It may also work by stopping new blood vessels from forming, therefore cutting off the supply of blood to cancer cells.

How to brew Oonlong Tea

Oolong contains a whole spectrum of aromas that make it distinct from green, white or black tea.

Preparing tea properly is a key step in capturing the best flavor and aroma.  Oolong tea tastes best when the water is between 85 – 90ºC (185 – 195ºF). Bottled water is better than tap water.

For tea bag, place one tea bag in a cup of hot water and brew for about 2 minutes, or desired strength. Drink it either warm or cold.

For loose tea, use a small teapot, for example, a 7 oz teapot. Pre-warm the teapot with hot water and discard the water. Put desired amount of Oolong tea into the teapot. If you are new to tea, we suggest you start with small amount, say about 1 teaspoon, as too much tea leaves used could increase the bitter taste. Add hot water to the teapot and then immediately pour the water from teapot to cups. The step will bring the tea leaves to brewing temperature and warm up the cups. Fill up the teapot with hot water to brew for about 2 minutes. This first brew is good for you to experience the aroma. The best tea comes from second and third brews. You may continue to brew if it is not too light to drink.

Ti Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) is a well-known Chinese Oolong tea. Its leaves are as black and as rich as iron and it is named after the Buddhist deity Guan Yin. It can be brewed the same way as we mentioned before. When steeping, Ti Kuan Yin tea firstly produces a strong fragrant orchid-like aroma. A sweet aftertaste can quickly rise from the throat.  After several infusions, the Ti Kuan Yin’s fragrance still remains.  Ti Kuan Yin tea wins the reputation for “steeping lingering fragrance seven times”

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Posted in Tea

The health benefits of almonds

The health benefits of almonds

Almonds are considered to be one of the earliest domesticated tree nuts, and one of the most prized snacks in the world.  Packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, it is easy to see why the almond is present on almost every continent and the health benefits of this little nut have long been touted by experts.

The almond contains about 26 percent carbohydrates, 12 percent of which are dietary fiber.  About 20 percent of a raw almond is made up of high-quality protein, containing essential amino acids.

An ounce of almonds, which equates to about 25 almonds, contains 12 percent of our necessary daily protein. They are a rich source of vitamin E, B vitamins, essential minerals – like calcium, magnesium and potassium – and healthy fat.

Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols, associated with lowering cholesterol.  But how exactly are these vitamins helping?

Let’s take a closer look:

Vitamin E
Almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol —the form of vitamin E that’s best absorbed by your body.  This is important to your muscles because it can help prevent free-radical damage after workouts or muscle strain and damage.  The less free-radical damage, the faster your muscles can recover.  The antioxidant benefit of vitamin E also helps defend against sun damage, and has been associated with good heart health. And almonds can be considered “brain food.” Healthy levels of vitamin E have been shown to prevent cognitive decline, boost alertness and preserve memory longer.

B Vitamins
Almonds contain about 17 percent of your daily intake of B2, which helps convert food to energy for the body. Because these vitamins are essential for energy production, they have a positive effect on athletic training, performance and strength. The B vitamins also contribute to healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver.

Monounsaturated Fat
This fat is dubbed the “healthy fat” because it helps decrease high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol.  By decreasing cholesterol, those who eat almonds can decrease their risk of heart disease and heart attack.  This makes almonds a heart-healthy snack!

Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium
Almonds provide these minerals which are essential in promoting strong, healthy bones and preventing bone disease like osteoporosis.

A lot of the vitamins and minerals found in almonds work together, and that’s when we see the real benefits that have given almonds their great reputation.

One combination is vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium – together, these are essential to the production of testosterone, which is especially beneficial to men over the age of 30, who may experience a decline in levels of the hormone.  And combining vitamins E, B and magnesium can bolster your immune system when you are sick or stressed.

Is there anything the almond can’t do?  Despite almonds being nutritional powerhouses, they are relatively high in calories.  For this reason, people trying to cut back on calories and lose weight often shy away from this snack.  Research, however, has shown otherwise.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewing 31 studies about eating nuts, it was found that adults who incorporated nuts into their diets, and replaced other foods with them, lost more weight and reduced their waist sizes.

Remember to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.

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Dr. David B. Samadi is the Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lennox Hill Hospital in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. To learn more please visit his websites RoboticOncology.com and SMART-surgery.com. Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.