Departing from Narita, Japan, Japanese flight attendants creatively trying to put Japanese into English fail to surprise me. The first time a Western flight attendant asked me if I wanted green or black tea did surprise me though. Never having heard another native English speaker refer to black tea, or not remembering, I wondered if that was common English usage where she came from. The flight attendant explained that black tea differentiated black tea from green tea, but the term was new to her too.
Googling, I found millions of references to black tea. Wasp tea references merely numbered in the hundreds. Never having drunk wasp tea, I wondered what it would taste like. Once in Morocco, sitting outdoors on a plaza in Fez, or perhaps Marrakech, drinking sweet tea, the wasps began to gather. Attracted by the sweet scent of the tea they climbed up the spout and into the teapot. A few wasps became ten and then twenty and then over a hundred.
I don’t know if wasp tea offers health benefits. Green and black tea certainly do. Living in Japan, one hears of the many health benefits that green tea offers. Green tea reduces cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Green tea also lowers your total cholesterol levels and improves your ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol. The list goes on to cover health benefits for rheumatoid arthritis, infections, and more. While green tea may not have all the powers we hear about, it does offer much.
We may think that black tea does not offer as many benefits as green tea, but black and green tea are from the same plant. They basically offer the same benefits. As green tea is less processed than black tea, black tea offers fewer antioxidants than green tea, but the difference is not as significant as one might imagine.
Milton Schiffenbauer of Pace University states that both green and black tea can fight viruses in your mouth like herpes. According to Schiffenbauer, tea also helps to prevent diarrhea, pneumonia, cystitis, and skin infections. Research at Rutgers University has shown the potential of black tea for preventing stomach, prostate, and breast cancer. Black tea contains a compound called TF-2 that may slow down cancer growth. TF-2 can kill cancer sells while leaving healthy cells untouched.
Dr. Joseph Vita of the Boston University School of Medicine has shown how black tea also fights potential heart attacks and strokes by saving our arteries. His tests compared heart patients who drank plain water with others who drank black tea. After only one month, the tea-drinking patients had improved their impaired blood vessel functioning by 50%. Additional health benefits from black tea are preventing tooth decay, lowering cholesterol, and soothing arthritis. Black tea may help us to burn fat too.
The list of benefits of green and black tea go on. For cultural reasons black tea may not have as many vocal admirers as green tea. Scientists who conduct research and black tea drinkers may just not feel as strongly as green tea researchers and drinkers. For many Japanese, green tea is more than a drink. Green tea is part of their national heritage and a source of pride. Publicizing green tea health benefits may seem like a mission to many Japanese whereas publicizing the health benefits of black tea speaks only to health for most Americans. Most of us do not identify with black tea the way Japanese do with green tea. Black tea is just a terrific drink, not a way of life. Coffee is probably more a way of life to Americans.
Either way, tea research is still in its infancy and more research is necessary on both animals and humans to further investigate and understand the health benefits of tea. Personally, I am pleased to hear that black tea is as healthy as green tea. I like both, but tea bags are just so easy. While you can buy green tea tea bags, making green tea from tea bags is not the way for me to drink green tea. It just seems so…
Green and black tea aside, I am now waiting to hear of the benefits of wasp tea.