Savory, aromatic, satisfying, delicious, and gratifying. These are the thoughts and feelings that tea inspires for the genuine "tea-ophile." Tea is the second most-consumed beverage on earth, after water. The Eastern world has been enjoying tea for some 4500 years, whereas the West is a relative newcomer to the beverage after it was imported into Europe only 400 years ago.
The health benefits of tea have been extolled for centuries and are well documented. A Chinese proverb declared that "drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary." Okakura Tenshin, an 8th century Japanese scholar and author of The Book of Tea, said that "tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage."
In 17th century London, there were some dubious qualities attributed to tea as seen in Thomas Garway's Broadsheet Advertisement for Tea. Garway proclaimed that "The Drink is declared to be most wholesome, preserving in perfect health until extreme Old Age. It maketh the Body clean and lusty. It helpeth the Head-ach, giddiness and heaviness thereof." Universally, tea has been celebrated as a beverage that can increase endurance, reduce the risk of heart attacks, fight free radicals, and protect against cancer.
Standard teas are
derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant, and there are only four
green, black, white, and oolong. Herbal tea
is not technically considered to be tea since it is not derived
from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but instead from the leaves or
flowers of herbaceous plants steeped in water. Nevertheless,
many varieties of herbal teas have been acclaimed for their
healthful effects, such as boosting the immune system.
Many tea drinkers have believed their beverage of choice to be safer than other options such as soft drinks or sugary juice drinks, but this fantasy has been squelched by numerous recent studies reporting on the high levels of fluoride and pesticides found in tea. No longer is "just any tea" a safe choice. Even certain tea brands promoted as healthy and sold in health food stores are no longer a sure bet, as some of these brands contain high levels of fluoride, pesticides, GMOs and natural flavors which may not be the kind of "natural" you would knowingly ingest.
Studies conducted within the past few years show that many teas are contaminated with high levels of fluoride. There are two kinds of fluoride that can have harmful effects on the human body: calcium fluoride, which is found in nature and underground water sources, and sodium fluoride, which is a synthetic waste product from the nuclear, aluminum and pesticide industries. Calcium fluoride and sodium fluoride cause the same damage, but sodium fluoride causes damage more quickly.
Fluoride stays and accumulates in bones for years. About 50% of fluoride from any source is deposited in the bone and teeth, so increased levels of fluoride pose a rising risk of skeletal and dental illnesses. Excessive fluoride ingestion can produce skeletal fluorsis, which increases bone brittleness and causes bone, muscle and joint pain. It is also claimed that fluoride performs as a Trojan Horse in that it carries aluminum across the blood brain barrier. Most alarming is fluoride's insidious attack on the pineal gland.
The pineal gland is regarded by many to be the most significant component of our nervous system. A small conical appendage, it is located near the center of the brain between the two hemispheres. The pineal gland functions as an adrenal gland, primarily secreting the hormone melatonin which regulates our sleep/awake and seasonal cycles. It was also discovered that melatonin most likely regulates our aging cycles. The pineal gland is also referred to as the "third eye" and viewed by many to be the connecting link to the spiritual world.
Accumulating fluoride over a lifetime leads to calcification of the pineal gland, diminishing its capacity to secrete that ever-precious melatonin. In 1987, Dr. Roman Rozencwaig published a seminal paper entitled "The Role Of Melatonin And Serotonin In Aging." He attributed aging to the diminished output of melatonin, leading to a decline in "adaptive processes and subsequent death of the organism." The progressive depletion of melatonin with advancing age is a primary cause of aging and age-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.
A number of recent studies have found that heavy tea drinkers can develop skeletal fluorosis along with advanced calcification of the pineal gland if they're drinking tea with high levels of fluoride. As a general rule, tea plants accumulate fluoride in their leaves over time, so naturally the oldest leaves contain the most fluoride and the youngest leaves contain the least amount. Higher quality teas use younger tea leaves, which have lower levels of fluoride. White tea has the lowest level of fluoride since it is made from the youngest leaves.
In 2005 the Journal of American Medicine found that instant teas and economy blends appear to contain excessive levels of sodium fluoride. Green tea was found to contain the next highest level of fluoride, double the amount found in black tea. Black tea had the next highest level, followed by pure blends. This chart appeared in the January 2006 issue of The American Journal of Medicine; and shows the testing results of fluoride found in instant teas.