A case for older (cheaper) tea?


Made from leaves that have not been oxidized.

For best health benefits, I would ...

Drink later flushes of green tea if they have higher catechin levels
1
4%
Drink 1st flush if it has more catechins
1
4%
Drink more 1st flush to make up for lower catechins
1
4%
Drink more later flushes to make up for lower catechins
0
No votes
I will just drink what I like, 1st flush for me
20
77%
I will drink what I like, later flushes for me
0
No votes
Other
3
12%
 
Total votes : 26

A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby woodshadows » Sep 16th, '11, 20:36

Moderator edit: poll added

Chip


Do not take anything I say seriously.

What is the great lesson which history imparts us when we glimpse back through time at prevailing ideas of value and benefit relating to food and drink? Prior to the mid-1900's european culture and to this very day asian culture, considered refined grains to be a superior product to the more bitter and chewy textured whole grain variant. Modern science tells us that the wealthy, paying for the 'higher quality' product were doing themselves more harm than the lowly peasant and his unrefined grain. The wealthy indulged in high fat meats - the peasant organ meats and leaner cuts, the wealthy fruits (more perishable/seasonal variance = higher price) - the poor vegetables (better storage, less perishable = lower price). Examples abound that continually hammer home the message that what is abundant, hardy, harsher flavoured, is in many if not most cases superior for health reasons than their more 'refined' cousins.

Green tea, like wine, beer, tobacco, marijuana, or any other consumable drug, has undergone fetishization. This is an occurrence which is both natural and further promoted by those who will most benefit by it - namely the producers and sellers. The process is a simple one, value-added is not to imply real value added but simply the added value of perceived greater benefit. A poetic name, a romanticized back-story, production levels kept low (intentionally), a large enough consumer base with excess wealth and the human tendency and desire to feel like a 'have' as opposed to a 'have-not'.

You tell me that my green tea should be made of young leaves, grown in certain areas of certain nations from certain cultivars, exhibiting certain chemical profiles and certain taste attributes. I am told that $50 for 100g is a poor product and that I must spend more to ensure I have purchased an item 'worth drinking'.

Taste is an interesting thing. Taste can mean taste as in, I have 'good taste', as in 'I prefer this over that'. Taste can also mean the experience of tasting something. The distinction is an important one and should not be confused. There is not a direct correlation between my taste of something with my taste For something. My taste For something is conditioned; it's prejudicial, like my racist step-brother. Like any prejudice it is injected into me from the outside, but like any foreign invader it can be expelled/converted/or embraced. My taste Of something is much less complex and involves 5 senses and various scents. My first taste of green tea gave me the same taste sensation that I have to this day, but my taste in the tea I drank then has altered to what it is today. My taste for green tea was not a pleasant one, I thought it a bitter grassy beverage, my palate was conditioned towards things which did not share characteristics of green tea. I chose to continue drinking, my taste for green tea grew more pleasant, while my taste of green tea remained constant. When we are purchasing green tea for the taste we are not choosing by any other standard than one imposed from without, by the so-called 'authorities', those who want us to believe that this particular combination of taste/scent is super to that taste/scent combination.

What is real value then? What brought most of us originally to green tea, if not for cultural and traditional reasons, was likely the health hype surrounding it. This grabbed our attention, we've been programmed that as conscious willing creatures we have a responsibility to ourselves in this regard to choose items of ingestion that prove most beneficial to our organism. In this regard is expensive young leaved green tea the highest value? I have been questioning this for some time now. If we take anecdotal evidence for anything, we have the historical example providing us with some suspicion for any of the 'refined' or 'noble' things of this world as being those which are of higher value in regards to health. There is also a pleasant image in our head of vigorous peasants, tolstoyan in their virtue and hardiness, venturing into the fields for hours of hard labour in all weather conditions, subsisting on the lowly bancha or other 'cheaper' old-leaf variety of tea. This isn't exactly compelling evidence tho, not for our modern scientifico-rational generation. Not for me, certainly!

What is healthiest in green tea? Science doesn't agree on this, it's a contentious issue, with some even questioning a health benefit at all! Few however would disagree that catechin is responsible for most, perhaps in the 60 - 80% range of green tea's healthy profile. Caffeine is especially problematic and controversial with some demonizing and others glorifying. We won't go too close to that one. Finally theanine. This seems like a nice, mildly psychoactive component of tea, with some possible health benefit. These are perhaps the top three chemical constituents from which green tea's presumed health benefit is generally thought to derive. I'm going to paste something here, I won't cite it, I don't like to do that:

"In fact, through the natural production of polyphenols, the tea plant converts theanine into catechins. This means that tea leaves harvested during one part of the growing season may be high in catechins (good for antioxidant benefits), while leaves harvested during another time of year may be higher in theanine"

..Meaning of course, the older "cheap" or as some elitist snob types enjoy to deride it "trash" leaves are those which (generally) contain the higher quantities of catechin (bitter, astringent, yuck poor people tea). The theanine (mm sweet, psyhoactive, allows me to relax as the landowner watching as the peasants sweat it out outside) on the other hand, is higher in the younger leaves. If value = health and health = older leaves, perhaps it's time we threw off the shackles of consumerist hype, playing upon our insecurities and fattening us upon the gluttonies of frivolous expenditure, embrace the noble old leaf, it's lived a long life, seen the world, survived through the year. Like the old crone, it may not be pretty to look upon, but it has a lot of goodness to impart to you.
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Kevangogh » Sep 16th, '11, 23:27

What is healthiest in green tea? Science doesn't agree on this, it's a contentious issue, with some even questioning a health benefit at all!


This is not a contentious issue in the least. Contentious with exactly who? The benefits of tea are well founded.

Spin it however you'd like, it's a proven fact that first harvest tea has more catechins.

I am told that $50 for 100g is a poor product and that I must spend more to ensure I have purchased an item 'worth drinking'.


I don't remember anyone saying any such thing here.

..Meaning of course, the older "cheap" or as some elitist snob types enjoy to deride it "trash" leaves are those which (generally) contain the higher quantities of catechin (bitter, astringent, yuck poor people tea).


Once again, you are the one making this implication. I sense a bit of an inferiority complex. If people seek out the best green tea (or whatever the product may be), that does not make them a snob.

Old green tea leaves exposed to oxygen will oxydize. It's pretty simple.
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Ill-literate » Sep 17th, '11, 00:15

/thread. Kevan is the man. :!:
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby woodshadows » Sep 17th, '11, 00:26

You state that old green tea leaves exposed to oxygen will oxidise. Let's be clear here by saying that by "old" I don't mean old as in leaves that have sat around for millenia (altho pu-ehr enthusiasts would have a bone to pick with you on that score). By old leaves I mean mature leaves, late-harvest leaves, etc. Clear?

Secondly, there is no 'spin' in stating that older leaves contain more catechin than younger leaves. This is scientific fact. The theanine, exposed to sunlight and the maturation process converts the theanine into the catechin. This is the reason behind shade-grown teas which shelter the leaf from the exposure to sunlight which would decrease the theanine content and the (desirable) sweet/umami component, replacing it instead with bitter/astringent tannin (catechin).

I made a well-reasoned argument behind implying an inferiority complex behind tea-snobbery. You retorted with the same remark applied to me but did not provide any argument.

p.s. I don't seek converts, simply a forum in which to speak things some may find resonance within. If my message doesn't agree with you I can refer you to many more partisan threads which will appeal more to your sensibilities.
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Tead Off » Sep 17th, '11, 00:50

Woodshadows, while I agree 100% with your take on our minds being condtioned and told what to like,I also extend this to our minds in total as we are just accumulations of what we've been told, read, etc. and have little relationship with experience directly rather than through the filter of thought.

So, aside from the scientific calculations of the various chemicals contained in different types of leaves, how are we to judge what is best if all of our perceptions are colored by conditioning? Is there a best? Does the body say this is best without the mind dictating what that would be? Is best simply a concept that is agreed upon in various cultural settings and times?

Since we are only dealing with mind, is there a point of view without mind? How will you find this out? :D
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Chip » Sep 17th, '11, 01:55

Drink what you like, like what you drink. I just hope you are enjoying whatever tea you are drinking.

Welcome to TeaChat ... as provacative an entrance as I have ever seen.

Some of your arguments are a bit off the wall. No matter what tea harvest one drinks, it is still tea. We are not talking fruits versus leafy veggies. Nor are we talking fatty meat versus lean.

Bottom line, I will drink 100 times more first flush sencha versus later flushes BECAUSE of taste, personal preference ... and not because of someone said it was better, this was my own personal discovery. I drink some sencha-s more than others, some varietals more than others because to me I prefer these tastes (well combination of senses).

Also, who are the elitists you are referring to? To come on to a forum and start calling names is ... provacative to say the least. Most teas I drink are in the 15-30 USD per 100 gram range. Since we are in the Green Tea forum, I am assuming you are referring to green teas.

I just do not see where you are going with this package of statements. Perhaps you can enlighten us to your goals, purposes, targets of accusations.

On an internet forum, it is best to cite your sources, provide links when possible. Otherwise your words are dust in the wind.
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Kevangogh » Sep 17th, '11, 02:11

Wood, would you care to site your source stating that late harvest green tea has more catechins than first harvest? I've researched this and I've never seen this stated anywhere before - I'd like to find out if all the journals I read on the subject were incorrect.

Also, I don't need you to refer me to threads here. This was your first post, I've been here for years. It's a safe bet I'm more familiar with where to post here than you are.

Your argument about inferiority complex and tea snobbery was not well reasoned, sorry. Actually, all one has to do is ready your post and it becomes readily apparent that you have an issue with people who want the best tea they can get and who are willing to pay for it. Why? I'm not sure - that's the real question, but I'm sure there's a reason. You also made false statements about what members here have espoused when in fact none of them did. You implied that they are snobs, but face it - it's only your "perception" that they are tea snobs, that's a label that YOU decided to tack on. You shouldn't label people so easily, you don't know what motivates them at all. Frankly, even if one were to buy the most expensive green tea around, it still wouldn't cost $100 and on the scale of things to be snobby about, that's pretty low.

People have hobbies, interests. One guy might collect expensive sports cars, another guy might like stamps. If you are into collecting old antique bottles, you might find it hard to understand someone who forked over $1000 for a stamp. For some people, it's tea. Divide that group down, and you have those who like oolong, green tea, etc, etc. On the scale of interests and hobbies go, spending $50 on a tea that you really enjoy is not a lot. Maybe when a tea maniac drinks that cup of beauty, they re-live the time they visited Japan 15 years ago. For them, it's worth it. It's got nothing to do with snobbery. They don't want Walmart tea - they want high quality green tea. Maybe they're into Japanese stuff. Maybe they always wished they could visit Japan but can't afford it so this is their way of being there in a small way. There are a million reasons why, but to each their own. If that's what you enjoy, what you are "into", then I don't think there's a thing wrong with trying to find the best that you can afford. No one is forcing anything on anyone. Some people want the best, it's their prerogative. We have a guy on here who went out and imported an iron tea kettle from Japan because the iron content of the kettle imparts something in the tea when it's brewed. He's into his green tea. We have another guy on here that won't drink anything that isn't organic - you going to call him a snob for that? I know people who have lost their jobs, houses, etc, in this current economic crisis yet they continue to buy green tea. They may not be able to afford the new car but they buy the tea. It's a relatively affordable luxury that has nothing to do with snobbery. So if you wish to purchase bancha, more power to you but don't knock those who want something more.

I don't know what your experience is with drinking green tea, but I'd like to hear your opinions on why you prefer the taste or aroma of one green tea over say, another green tea. If you can't tell us that, then you clearly don't understand why people are willing to pay for good product.
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Chip » Sep 17th, '11, 02:28

Interestingly, our two new members here are virtual neighbors ... :idea:
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Ill-literate » Sep 17th, '11, 02:46

Chip wrote:Interestingly, our two new members here are virtual neighbors ... :idea:


Are you referring to me? Because I am in no way associated with "woodshadows", nor do I agree with his statements in this thread. I am just a guy who enjoys japanese green tea, 1st flush, to be specific. I have been lurking for quite some time and this thread inspired me to sign up, because I agree with you and Kevan, in that I have tried both 1st and later flush teas and prefer 1st for various personal reasons. 8)
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Chip » Sep 17th, '11, 03:07

Ill-literate wrote:
Chip wrote:Interestingly, our two new members here are virtual neighbors ... :idea:


Are you referring to me? Because I am in no way associated with "woodshadows", nor do I agree with his statements in this thread. I am just a guy who enjoys japanese green tea, 1st flush, to be specific. I have been lurking for quite some time and this thread inspired me to sign up, because I agree with you and Kevan, in that I have tried both 1st and later flush teas and prefer 1st for various personal reasons. 8)

And nobody twisted your arm (or taste buds) to like FF sencha? :wink: :mrgreen: Or did taste (and other senses) alone win you over?

Welcome to TeaChat!
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Ill-literate » Sep 17th, '11, 03:18

Chip wrote:
Ill-literate wrote:
Chip wrote:Interestingly, our two new members here are virtual neighbors ... :idea:


Are you referring to me? Because I am in no way associated with "woodshadows", nor do I agree with his statements in this thread. I am just a guy who enjoys japanese green tea, 1st flush, to be specific. I have been lurking for quite some time and this thread inspired me to sign up, because I agree with you and Kevan, in that I have tried both 1st and later flush teas and prefer 1st for various personal reasons. 8)

And nobody twisted your arm (or taste buds) to like FF sencha? :wink: :mrgreen: Or did taste (and other senses) alone win you over?

Welcome to TeaChat!


For me, taste is most important. I have found that fresh, first flush senchas shipped directly from Japan are much tastier than later flush, less fresh teas I find through local sources. Although they are more expensive, I find I get more steeps (4-5) out of them, which evens things out a bit. So, in my opinion, they are totally worth it. :D
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby a.serrao » Sep 17th, '11, 06:32

Kevangogh wrote:Spin it however you'd like, it's a proven fact that first harvest tea has more catechins.


It's exactly the opposite. The more the plant leaves are exposed to full sun for longer time, the more the catechins.

This rules out kabusencha of course.

August and October flushes are the most rich in catechins. Coincidentally these are the cheapest flushes, regarded as poor teas, not because they are inferior in any way but because of the perceived commercial value.

"In August, when thesun’s rays are the strongest, catechin content is the highest"

and

"The production of catechins in the tea plant increases onexposure to light and decreases in the shade. These phenom-ena are related to the activity of phenylalanine-ammonia-lyase, which is a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of catechinB ring. When the tea plant is covered (blocking out light), thisenzyme activity decreases rapidly.The biosynthesis of catechin is also increased by a rise intemperature. Once catechin is synthesized, it is stored in the vacuole of the cell and hardly undergoes any metabolism ordecomposition."

This explains very well why August and October plain senchas are the most rich in catechins, leaving out baseless rumors that anyone can write on the net.

from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/51630252/3/Bi ... -Catechins
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby woodshadows » Sep 17th, '11, 07:45

I apologize in advance for not responding to every specific thing commented.

It appears someone has done the citation search for me, which really I had always assumed was such a well-known fact that I didn't seriously need to provide any evidence for it. Shame shame on the person who stated that their "years of research in all the literature" had led them to the idea that young leaves contained higher concentrations of catechin. This tells me this person has been reading some very faulty documentation, or, what is rather more likely, has difficulty in admitting themselves in the wrong and when proven wrong must enlist the support of 'documents', so that said documents are to blame and not said person.

To the person who made an intelligent response relating to value and what constitutes value, I applaud you for the appeal to reason rather than ad hominen as some (unnamed) others have. If you reread what I wrote however I made the case (weak perhaps?) that health benefit is what drew a lot of us (by "us", I eurocentrically mean us westerners who I assume populate heavily an english-language website sponsored by a north american company [adagio is north american, no?]).. what drew a lot of us to green tea in the first place. Even if we don't allow that this is the case, taste being subjective and relative to one's experiences, we have nothing else solidly based in empirical data by which to judge 'value'. Health is a safe bet. We want the -healthiest- tea. No? Is this not the 'higher value'? There can be made an argument that there is some redeeming 'value' to be gained from drinking a tea of high 'social prestige'. For some this may be the case, but this again is open to fluxuating trends, as the rise and collapse of the pu-ehr market has shown us. Health benefit is solid, it's scientifically based, science is open to debate, as I've granted, but there is a point at which some consensus can safely be made. The consesus, even amongst those who don't like my message, is the accepted dictim that catechin is the healthiest component of green tea. Therefore, if catechin = healthiest and most mature leaves = highest catechin content, would it not follow that the tea with the highest catechin content is likewise the highest value?

I'm sorry if I challenge the standard orthodoxy, I don't even mean to offend here. I'm seeking someone to convince me I'm wrong. Everyone wants to be a believer, it's less lonely :~(
Last edited by woodshadows on Sep 17th, '11, 08:33, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby Tead Off » Sep 17th, '11, 08:23

woodshadows wrote:I apologize in advance for not responding to every specific thing commented.

It appears someone has done the citation search for me, which really I had always assumed was such a well-known fact that I didn't seriously need to provide any evidence for it. Shame shame on the person who stated that their "years of research in all the literature" had led them to the idea that young leaves contained higher concentrations of catechin. This tells me this person has been reading some very faulty documentation, or, what is rather more likely, has difficulty in admitting themselves in the wrong and when proven wrong must enlist the support of 'documents', so that said documents are to blame and not said person.

To the person who made an intelligent response relating to value and what constitutes value, I applaud you for the appeal to reason rather than ad hominen as some (unnamed) others have. If you reread what I wrote however I made the cast (weak perhaps?) that health benefit is what drew a lot of us (by "us", I eurocentrically mean us westerners who I assume populate heavily an english-language website sponsored by a north american company [adagio is north american, no?]).. what drew a lot of us to green tea in the first place. Even if we don't allow that this is the case, taste being subjective and relative to one's experiences, we have nothing else solidly based in empirical data by which to judge 'value'. Health is a safe bet. We want the -healthiest- tea. No? Is this not the 'higher value'? There can be made an argument that there is some redeeming 'value' to be gained from drinking a tea of high 'social prestige'. For some this may be the case, but this again is open to fluxuating trends, as the rise and collapse of the pu-ehr market has shown us. Health benefit is solid, it's scientifically based, science is open to debate, as I've granted, but there is a point at which some consensus can safely be made. The consesus, even amongst those who don't like my message, is the accepted dictim that catechin is the healthiest component of green tea. Therefore, if catechin = healthiest and highest health = highest catechin content, would it not follow that the tea with the highest catechin content is likewise the highest value?

I'm sorry if I challenge the standard orthodoxy, I don't even mean to offend here. I'm seeking someone to convince me I'm wrong. Everyone wants to be a believer, it's less lonely :~(


That person who did years of research happens to be the owner of O-Cha, arguably the most popular seller of Japanese teas that Teachatters drink. If it is true that the studies reveal the opposite of what he said, he will undoubtedly be embarrassed by this. But, I want to address this issue of taste as you have specifically mentioned it.

Most people I know who drink tea don't drink it for health reasons. They drink it because they like it. I am also one of those. But, I realize that many are attracted to it because of the media and its purported health benefits. To my taste, which admittedly is conditioned in many ways, the more expensive first flush teas are much more drinkable. These are not necessarily that expensive. If I were only interested in health, I would seek out the cheap stuff as you point out. Along with the cheap stuff often comes pesticides and so on. Doing side by side tasting usually resolves any questions about which are more drinkable. My interest in your post was simply the psychological motivations which gets us to conclude what is 'best'.
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Re: A case for older (cheaper) tea?

Postby a.serrao » Sep 17th, '11, 08:31

I must ad, for completeness' sake, that catechins are best absorbed in the intestine if the pH of the infusion is on the acidic side. Suffice to add some lemon juice drops to the tea.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 6909002634


And, the most important thing, is that a bioactive concentration of catechins is reached with long infusions, by 10 minutes or even more but not at 100°C.

Epimerisation take place in infused tea and is both time and type of water dependent: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 4600000996

Not all catechins we take are bioavailable, nor all are absorbed by our intestine.
Plus there isn't a direct correlation between ECGC content in the plasma and the TRAP (radical-trapping antioxidant parameter) which express how much powerful is green tea (or any tea) against the ROS (reactive oxygen species).

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 9/abstract
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