Martial artists should always be looking for that something extra to give them that ultra edge. We should always be searching for the best exercises, that healthy diet and the most energizing lifestyle habits. Research is the name of the game, always seeking better solutions. This is what contributes to a lifetime of study in the arts. Let's face it, how many punches or kicks can one do over the years before we begin to burn out. We should be looking at the martial arts from many different angles. We need that edge, we deserve that edge. With this in mind we are going to discuss the importance of all things TEA.

The Chinese and Japanese tea ceremony played a major role in the life of the Asian martial artist. The rituals have deep meaning, which was taught to the ladies of the house as part of their genteel refinement.


        You can search the web and type in Japanese tea ceremony to learn more about the culture and importance of these events.  When the late Bruce Lee was talking about you must empty your cup to learn new information, he was using the tea cup as a symbol for emptying  the mind to get rid of past pre-conceived ideas, which would allow the student the capacity to accept new concepts that is not bound by limits or tradition.


         According to Chinese legend, for a perspective student to be granted permission to enter the Shaolin temple he had to pass various tests. One such test comprised of simply drinking tea with the master. Once the tea was poured, if the candidate lifted the tea cup to his lips and drank before the master did, he failed entrance. It only took one failed test to be turned away. The tea ceremony was an important step to success or failure.


        The Chinese believe that drinking tea began about 5000 years ago. Tea was brewed form fresh leaves until about 300 B.C. when the process of drying tea leaves began to surface. At least 1500 years ago Chinese medical papers described the health benefits of CHA, or as we know it today, tea. All teas come from the camellia leaves. Growing conditions, altitudes, soil, rain and temperature in different parts of the world create the various tea varieties. Black tea, Oolong and Green teas are not different species. Colors and flavors come from the processing methods. Flavorings may be added, along with flowers, herbs, fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. to enhance the flavors.


        The health benefits of tea seems to be something the martial artist should take a careful look at. Black, Oolong and Green tea are powerful antioxidants. Flavonoids in tea seem to help protect body cells from free radical damage. Flavonoids  and other Polyphenols may offer protection  from some cancers, heart disease and stroke. Tea leaves contain fluoride, which may help fight cavities while also inhibiting the growth of oral bacteria. Tea leaves contain Catechins, antioxidants that block these harmful free radicals. The most powerful Catechin is Epigallocatechin Gallate [ EGCG ], which is 200 times stronger than vitamin E.  Green tea has the most health benefits because it is made from fresh, young leaves, which are steamed immediately to preserve Catechins, and then dried. Black tea undergoes more processing and loses about half as much Catechins..


        Research has shown that green tea helps build bone density, aids digestion and calms the nerves. Drink four cups of green tea daily to derive the most health benefits. Today's fast paced world may not allow us much time for brewing tea, however there are many varities on the store shelves to choose from to enhance your tea time. Still, taking the time to slowly enjoy a cup of hot tea in the winter or a glass of iced tea in the summer may just provide that relaxing break that the martial artist may need. Create your own special tea ceremony and take the time to slow the pace down and begin to heal your own body.  An ancient Chinese saying is, Life is like tea. The longer it is immersed, the richer it becomes.


    NOTE: The benefits of herbal teas have not been fully researched. They may interact with prescription or over the counter medication, causing harmful side effects. Better to stick with what we knows works best.


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This page was last updated on 07/05/07

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