Monday, November 21, 2011

Tea Time

excerpted from American Spa magazine.

TEA IS THE MOST WIDELY CONSUMED beverage in the world after water. Its health benefits run the gamut from slowing the aging process to protecting against cancer.

It’s not only an ingestible delight, but increasingly, tea is also used as an ingredient in treatments and skincare lines. “Tea, in general, is a very calming and soothing ingredient,” says Gary Goldfaden, M.D.

All varieties of tea contain high concentrations of powerful antioxidants that work to repair cells damaged by free radicals, which occur naturally in the body but are increased by environmental toxins such as UV rays, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. Many scientists believe free radicals contribute to the aging process, intensify wrinkles, dull the skin, and contribute to illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. Doctors and skincare educators say antioxidants, such as those found in tea, may help prevent health problems and skin damage caused by free radicals.

Red tea doesn’t contain any tannins or caffeine, so it is soothing to the skin. “Red tea, when used topically, works to reduce redness and inflammation while simultaneously repairing and rejuvenating the skin,” says Goldfaden. “All tea forms are soothing and healing, so using products that contain tea will tremendously help skin ails including redness and rosacea, inflammation, swelling and puffiness, and dull or grey-toned skin. Tea works to brighten overall skin tone due to its high antioxidant levels.”

All other types of tea—black, green, and white—come from the same plant: camellia sinensis. It is the oxidation process that differentiates the teas. “Think of when you cut an apple and leave it out—it turns brown. This is the oxidation process,” explains Jane Whitman, director of on premise sales at Tea Forté. “This oxidation process is used with tea leaves to help develop the variety of flavors.” She adds that white teas are the least oxidized and black teas are the most. Green teas are in the middle. “Because of green tea’s minimal
processing, its leaves are withered and steamed, not fermented, like black and oolong teas,” says Whitman. “Green tea’s unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate, are more concentrated. EGCG has been shown to help prevent free radical damage to the skin.”

“The beauty of teas is that they work in an endless combination with all ingredients but can also be combined with key ingredients for specific concerns,” says Stephanie Baresh, director of marketing and public relations for Éminence Organic Skin Care. “Rosehip tea combined with soothing ingredients, such as yarrow oil, gives healing benefits to sensitive, rosacea-prone skin, and calendula tea and shea butter work to revive dry skin.

While focusing on its topical skincare benefits, don’t forget to serve it as a refreshment, hot or cold, depending on the season. —Jessica Lyons

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