By Lia Blanchard
Welcome to Aromatherapy 101, a series of articles discovering the reasons for our responses – both positive and negative – to certain scents, and ways to incorporate the beauty of fragrance to enhance your quality of life.
This third article in the series looks at green tea, a plant that’s been used pharmaceutically in Asia for thousands of years.
Green Tea: History and Usage
No one can be sure when the first cup of green tea was brewed, but legend says that in 2737 B.C. scholar and herbalist Shen Nung was boiling water to drink when a breeze blew a few leaves into his pot, resulting in a drink that “refreshing and stimulating”.
It appears that the plant was primarily baked and eaten before becoming a well-known tea. It was used to help heal wounds, control body temperature and blood sugar, and promote good digestion. Zen priest Eisai wrote the Kissa Yojoki (The Book of Tea) in 1191, and specified exact dosages and methods for administering the healing plant, as well as cultivation and processing advice.
The University of Maryland Medical Center cites several studies indicating that green tea, or green tea extract, can be beneficial in treating the following ailments:
- High cholesterol
- Cancer, including: bladder, breast, ovarian, colorectal, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, skin and stomach
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Liver disease
It should be noted that some studies were small in scope, and others have had results that conflicted with the results of other studies. Additionally, use of green tea for medicinal purposes is not recommended for children.
Many skin products contain green tea extract, to capitalize on the plant’s astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.
Soothing green tea fragrance is found in its essential oil, which can be found in lotions, bath oils, massage oils, soaps, perfumes, and other cosmetics. In addition to candles and potpourri mixes, the oil can be diffused or dropped into bath water for an extremely indulgent and relaxing environment.
Love tea? Look for a whole series of articles on tea coming in the spring!
Next in Aromatherapy 101: Rose