Tea Facts




Tea is processed from the tender shoots of the plant Camellia Sinensis, typically the bud and the first two leaves of the tea plant. ‘Herbal’ teas are usually made from plants other than tea and will not have the same taste or health benefits.

Tea, though it has almost no calories, contains a surprising quantity of nutrients and medicinal ingredients. Among the former are vitamins such as thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, biotin and inositol. Vitamin E is also present in tea. Tea is also rich in potassium although its content of sodium, a related metal associated with vascular disease when consumed in large quantities, is very low. This makes tea ideal for people suffering from high blood pressure. Tea also contains calcium, zinc and manganese.

In addition to these nutrients, tea-drinking promotes dental health because of the fluoride it contains. Fluoride also helps support bone mineralization. 
The Polyphenols found in tea are important anti-oxidants, which scour the blood of ‘free radicals’ that have been linked to cancer and other diseases.


Green and lushly fertile, the island republic of Sri Lanka lies in the Bay of Bengal, just below the southeastern tip of India. Sri Lanka was formerly a British crown colony known as Ceylon, a name it kept for nearly a quarter-century after independence.

It was during the British era that tea first began to be cultivated and manufactured here. Tea from Ceylon soon gained the reputation of being the finest in the world, and tea exports became the mainstay of the colonial economy. Housewives and restaurateurs across the globe grew familiar with the name of the country, learning that its appearance on a tin or packet reliably guaranteed the quality of the tea inside. Independence brought new markets, and production continued to increase. In 1965 Ceylon became, for the first time, the world’s largest exporter of tea.

When the country changed its name to Sri Lanka in 1972, its premier industry was faced with a knotty problem. Ceylon was not only the former name of the country; it was also one of the world’s leading brands, familiar to consumers from Virginia to Vladivostok – a brand the industry had been actively promoting and investing in since the early 1930s. Abandoning it would deliver a setback from which there could be no easy recovery. And the cost of promoting and establishing an unfamiliar new brand – ‘Sri Lanka Tea’ – would be ruinous.

Though opposed by some who demanded a complete break with the colonial past and a new start for the country, industry leaders managed to persuade the socialist government then in power to permit the continued use of the name Ceylon to refer to the country’s most famous product. Tea from Sri Lanka would still be marketed as Ceylon Tea; a priceless world brand had been saved.

A Legal Definition

To qualify for the special, legal distinction denoted by the words ‘Ceylon Tea’, and for the famous Lion logo that goes with it, the tea must not only be grown and manufactured entirely in Sri Lanka; it must also conform to strict quality standards laid down and administered by the Sri Lanka Tea Board. It cannot, moreover, be mixed or blended with tea from any other part of the world. Even a blend that is 95% Sri Lankan cannot be described as Ceylon Tea.

Tea bearing the Lion Logo must also be packed in Sri Lanka. Overseas importers and distributors cannot use the logo on their packaging, though if the contents are 100% Sri Lankan, the name ‘Ceylon Tea’ may still legally be used. These strictures are needed to help consumers distinguish real Ceylon Tea from the thousands of products, including many with international brand names that are available around the world, which contain tea of mixed, non-specific origin.

These products are blended from whatever teas are available on the international markets. The skill of the blender ensures a consistent product regardless of origin, while the firm enjoys economies of scale and suffers no supply-side anxieties. However, the level of quality rarely equals that attained by single-origin teas, and such blends can never emulate the character, so prized by connoisseurs, of pure Ceylon Tea.


The tea-growing regions of Sri Lanka are clustered mostly among the mountains of the island’s central massif and its southern foothils. Once thickly forested and largely inaccessible to humans, the central mountains were known to the ancient Sinhalese as Mayarata, the Country of Illusions. It was said to be haunted by demons and spirits. This fearsome reputation, together with more tangible threats posed by wild beasts, venomous snakes, landslides, rockfalls and the ever-present danger of simply losing one’s way in the forest, kept most people away from the high hills. Settlement was almost nonexistent except in the valleys and around the city of Kandy. Only foresters, hermits and fugitives had any reason to enter the Mayarata.

Thus it was that after the annexation of the Kandyan kingdom in 1815, the British found themselves in possession of vast tracts of virgin montaine forest Imperial enterprise soon found a way of putting the acquisition to good use. By 1840, there were already about two hundred coffee-estates dotted about the hills; then came a boom in coffee on the London market, fuelling a land-rush. Down came the high forests, acre after acre, to be replaced by endless, regimented rows of coffee-bushes. At the peak of the coffee enterprise in 1878, no less than 113,000 ha. (278,000 acres) were under cultivation. 

Tea Resource Materials Facts


Caffeine is a natural component of tea and is considered safe when consumed in moderation. According to Health Canada, a balanced diet can include a moderate intake of caffeine with daily recommended consumption limits of between 400 to 450 mg. This is equivalent to 10-12 cups of tea per day. Actual caffeine levels in tea are dependent upon the specific blends and strength of the tea brew, but most servings contain only 25 to 34 mg. Tea contains one third to one half less caffeine than coffee.

Download: Caffeine Meter (PDF)

Flavonoids and Tea

Teas from the Camellia inensis plant contain a group of compounds called flavonoids (polyphenols) which were originally studied because of their antioxidant properties, but are now known to have multiple, or pleotrophic effects in the body that go beyond antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize the body’s naturally occurring but cell-damaging free radical molecules. Damage by free radicals over time is believed to contribute to the development of many chronic disease including cancer and cardiovascular disease. New research shows that flavonoids (polyphenols) in tea may also help ward off the sustained inflammatory process and vascular damage linked to chronic human conditions associated with aging including heart disease  and decline in memory and cognition.

Download: Polyphenol Chart(PDF)

Daily Healthy Beverage Guidelines

The proposed Daily Healthy Beverage Guidelines were developed by a panel of nutrition experts to help consumers make smart decisions about their beverage consumption. Published in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of American Clinical Nutrition, the Guidelines are based on the relative health and nutritional benefits and risks of various types of beverages.

Under the guidelines, women should drink nine eight-ounce servings of beverages a day and men should drink 13 servings. However no more than 10 to 15 percent of daily calorie intake should be consumed in beverages and caffeine consumption should be limited to 400 mg per daydecay and cavities, and reduce kidney stones.

Tea – A Healthy Beverage Choice

Did you know that tea is the 2nd most popular beverage in the world next to water? Tea originates from the Camellia sinensis plant. Its first two leaves and bud are plucked, dried, blended and traded worldwide.

Tea is more than just a refreshing and relaxing drink, because it is:

  • Calorie-free

  • Free of additives and preservatives

  • Low in caffeine

  • Naturally rich in antioxidants


The Bergamot tree produces a small round yellow citrus fruit when ripe. Extracted from the peel by cold pressing, Bergamot oil boast a light and refreshing, spicy citrus scent. It's known to aid digestion and relax the nervous system.

Canada Approves Labeling of Health Claims on Tea, May 2007

On May 29, 2007, Canada's Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) announced that tea is a natural health product and officially recognized it for its role in maintaining good health.  After extensive review, the NHPD approved three health claims for tea:

1.  All types of tea infusions (black, green and oolong) are recognized as a source of antioxidants for the maintenance of good health.
2.  Tea is approved for increasing alertness.
3.  Tea helps to maintain and/or support cardiovascular health. 


Brewing Instructions Use one teaspoon of loose tea or one teabag per cup (five to eight ounces).

1. Begin by bringing fresh drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Avoid using previously heated water as this will give a flat taste when boiled again.

2. Keep the teapot warm. This allows the tea to remain hot for longer.

3. Pour the boiling water over the tea leaves or teabags to release the best flavour. Never add tea leaves or teabags to the water.

4. Cover and let the tea steep for three to five minutes then remove tea leaves or bag.

Freshly Brewed Ice Tea

1. Place six tea bags in a one litre pitcher.

2. Pour 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of freshly boiled water over the tea bags and steep for five minutes.

3. Remove the tea bags.

4. Fill the remainder of the pitcher with fresh cold water.

5. Pour tea over ice. Garnish and sweeten to taste. Rule of Thumb: Double the strength of the hot tea since it will be poured over ice. Tea & Your Health Antioxidants Fresh-brewed tea is a natural source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals which may lead to disease. Research suggests that flavonoids in tea act as potent antioxidants. They are released when tea leaves come into contact with boiling water, thereby potentially protecting the drinker from disease. Scientists have reported that drinking tea may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, while diminishing the chance of some cancers, including stomach, lung, colon, skin, and oral cancers. Though tea cannot replace fruits and vegetables, it has been shown that tea leaves contain more of the compound than most antioxidant-rich produce. Antioxidant activity in two cups of black or green tea equals to: seven glasses of orange juice, five medium onions, four medium apples or a glass of red wine. Tea—More than just a refreshing and relaxing drink • Calorie-free • Free of additives and preservatives • Low in caffeine • Naturally rich in antioxidants Tea & Caffeine—Dispelling the Myth Tea contains ⅓ to ½ the amount of caffeine found in an equivalent serving of coffee. According to Health Canada, a balanced diet should include a moderate intake of caffeine, with daily recommended consumption limits set between 400 to 450 mg. This equates to 10 to 12 cups of tea. Tea—Part of a Healthy Diet Tea contributes to a healthy diet as a source of daily fluid requirements. The water in tea provides hydration for the body and drinking normal strength tea poses no diuretic effect when consumed in moderation at one sitting. Every cup of tea provides the body with natural compounds that have disease-fighting potential. Tea From Around the World Tea originates from the Camellia sinensis plant. Its first two leaves and bud are plucked, dried, blended and traded worldwide. In Canada, our quality blends often contain tea leaves from Kenya, Sri Lanka, and India, with black tea being most favoured by Canadians. Types of Tea There are four basic types of tea: Black Tea - Most commonly used in North America, black tea is made from fully oxidized leaves. It produces a deep, rich flavour in an amber-coloured brew. Green Tea - Most popular in Asia, green tea is not oxidized. It is characterized by its delicate taste and light green colour. Oolong Tea - Popular in China, oolong tea is partly oxidized, combining the taste and colour of black and green tea. Herbal/Tisanes - Herbal teas or tisanes such as chamomile or peppermint, do not contain actually contain any Camellia Senensis leaves. These teas are made from fruits, berries and parts of other plants. Although herbal blends can have similar relaxing qualities with possible other health benefits, there is no supporting research that the health benefits associated with the Camellia Sinensis


TORONTO — The Canadian Press