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Tea and Health -- A Curator's Selection

Science Reference Section
Science, Technology & Business Division
Library of Congress

Photograph of close up of green tea plant leaves.
Green tea. From the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website.

According to the National Cancer Institute, “Tea is one of the most ancient and popular beverages consumed around the world. Black tea accounts for about 75 percent of the world’s tea consumption. In the United States, United Kingdom (UK), and Europe, black tea is the most common tea beverage consumed; green tea is the most popular tea in Japan and China. Oolong and white tea are consumed in much lesser amounts around the world.”

According to NIH, all types of tea (green, black, oolong, and white) are produced from the Camellia sinensis plant using different methods. Tea is usually brewed and drunk as a beverage, but green tea extracts are also sold in capsules and sometimes used in skin products.

After they are harvested, tea leaves begin to wilt and oxidize. During oxidation, chemicals in the leaves are broken down by enzymes, resulting in darkening of the leaves and a distinct aroma. This oxidation process can be stopped by heating--inactivating the enzymes. The amount of oxidation and other aspects of processing determine a tea’s type. Black tea is produced when tea leaves are wilted, bruised, rolled, and fully oxidized. On the other hand, green tea is made from un-wilted leaves that are not oxidized. Oolong tea is made from wilted, bruised, and partially oxidized leaves, creating an intermediate kind of tea. White tea is made from young leaves or growth buds that have undergone minimal oxidation. Dry heat or steam can be used to stop the oxidation process, and then the leaves are dried to prepare them for sale.

*Please also see: “Alternative, Complementary and Integrative Medicine: A Curator’s Choice.”

Photograph of white and yellow chamomile flowers
Chamomile. From the National Center for
Complementary and Integrative Health website.


Carpenter, Murray. Caffeinated: how our daily habit helps, hurts, and hooks us. New York: Hudson Street Press, 2014. 270 p.
   LC Call Number: RC567.5.C37 2014 OVERFLOWA5S; FLM2014 122451
   LC Catalog Record Number: 2013044492

This book examines the caffeine industry and the complex effects the chemical has on our bodies. Carpenter acknowledges caffeine’s benefits and addresses its dangers, including anxiety, panic attacks, disrupted sleep and, if consumed in large doses, even death.

Chrystal, Paul. Tea: a very British beverage. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley, 2014. 96 p.
   LC Call Number: GT2907.G7C57 2014
   LC Catalog Record Number: 2016462369

This book offers the history and cultural impact of tea, ranging from its discovery and origins in China, to its arrival in England.

Dow, Caroline. The healing power of tea: simple teas & tisanes to remedy and rejuvenate your health. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2014. 246 p.
   LC Call Number: RM251.D69 2014
   LC Catalog Record Number: 2014026213

The author of this comprehensive guide to the healing world of teas and tisanes believes that tea helps you live a healthier and happier life. From black to green to oolong, the reader will discover detailed chapters on different tea types, their advantages, and an extensive list of ailments and what blends will alleviate them.

Green tea polyphenols: nutraceuticals of modern life. Edited by Lekh R. Juneja, Mahendra P. Kapoor, Tsutomu Okubo, Theertham P. Rao. Boca Raton: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. 348 p.
   LC Call Number: RM25.G74 2013 OVERFLOWA5S; FLM2013 031969
   LC Catalog Record Number: 2013008834

This book presents a collection of global findings on the numerous health benefits of green tea polyphenols, confirming their position as healthy functional ingredients. Each chapter is contributed by experts in the field of green tea science and with the inclusion of extensive references, this book serves as an authoritative guide.

Richardson, Lisa Boalt. Modern tea: a fresh look at an ancient beverage. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2014.
164 p.
   LC Call Number: TX817.T3 R528 2014
   LC Catalog Record Number: 2014005315

This comprehensive guide covers the famous beverage through the eyes of a certified tea specialist. From its sometimes murky origins to today's wide range of tea ceremonies, the author explores the world of tea to create a fresh and accessible package for tea rookies and gurus alike.

Snyder, Mariza, Lauren Clum, and Anna V. Zulaica. The matcha miracle: boost energy, focus and health with green tea powder. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press, 2015. 99 p.
   LC Call Number: RM251.S69 2015
   LC Catalog Record Number: 2015937559

Guide to the nutritional powerhouse supplement praised as “green gold” for its curative, health-boosting qualities. Matcha increases energy, burns calories, and improves your immunity. This book provides vital information on how to maximize the benefits of matcha.

Uspenski, Maria. Cancer hates tea: a unique preventive and therapeutic lifestyle change to help crush cancer. Salem, MA: Page Street Publishing Co., 2016. 208 p.
   LC Call Number: RM251.U77 2016
   LC Catalog Record Number: 2016940211

The author became a tea lover when she extensively researched tea and discovered hundreds of studies of its health benefits during her bout with cancer. The book explains the history, growing information, and health implications of each variety, as well as methods to boost your intake with serving suggestions, food pairings, and recipes that highlight the benefits of tea.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
See, Tea and Cancer Prevention URL:

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
See, Tea URL:

White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy

Compiled by Tomoko Y. Steen, Ph.D., April 24, 2017

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   May 31, 2017
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