When tea was discovered more than 5000 years ago, it was known for more than its refreshing, rejuvenating quality.

It was said that when Emperor Shen-Nung – the man to whom many attribute the beverage's discovery – first introduced the brew to his court, he also declared it as having amazing health-giving properties. He recommended it as a remedy for kidney trouble, fever, chest infection and tumours 'that come about the head'.

Since then, this modest beverage has been repeatedly touted throughout the ages as being a medicinal wonder.

During the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the scholar, Lu Yu, wrote in his tea treatise, the Cha Ching ('Tea Classic'): "When feeling hot, depressed, suffering from headache, eye ache, fatigue of the limbs, or pains in the joints, one should drink only tea, four to five times a day.'

In 13th century Japan, a regiment of tea and prayer restored the health of the Kamakura shogun Minamoto Sanetomo as he lay dying from overfeasting.

In the 17th century, Dutch apothecarists sold tea alongside other herbs and balms. In 1686, Thomas Povey, British MP and Civil Servant, translated a Chinese encomium on the health benefits attributed to tea.

In the 18th century, an English doctor named Dr Thomas Short published 'Discourse on Tea' where he recommended it for 'its eminent and unequalled Power to take off, or prevent, Drowsiness or Dullness, Damps and Clouds on the Brain and intellectual Faculties'.

Today, modern science gives credence to these ancient writings and beliefs.

In 1998, at the Second International Scientific Symposium held in Washington DC, Symposium Chairman Dr John Weisburger, who is also a senior member of the American Health Foundation, said: "Tea has great potential to help reduce the incidence of major disease worldwide especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle."

Just how and why is tea so good for you? Decades of research reveals that this goodness lies in two vital elements that make up the drink:
⋅ Its antioxidant concentration.
⋅ Its vitamins & mineral content.

Hindu Business Line