Expanding my tea horizons

You fill up my senses with a hint of orange peel that drives me to sing John Denver songs and your light bitterness warms my complex taste buds like no other tea. Oh, Taragui “Sabor Naranja” maté! Could I ever fall in love with any other tea? 
Doubtful. So it’s a good thing I have enough bags to last me six months because you never know when there might be an disaster. That trek to Argentina is a long one.  
But I am interested in mixing up my tea-drinking habit. We’ve all heard about—what seems like weekly—the studies that come out about green tea’s preventive effects on cancer and heart disease. And while maté does have the same antioxidant epicatechins that tea has there are studies that suggest its tannins can cause possible cancers such as esophageal and bladder cancer [1-6]. While I believe more research is necessary to prove these effects and because some of the studies may have been related to other factors like how hot a maté is, I gotta drink it only in moderation. 
So I’m willing to bet there’s a few other teas I like. Being January, and to start the year off with a healthy habit, I’ve decided to join the “Tea of The Month Club” at teavana.com. Their Web site design is beautiful and the stories on each tea are addicting. Anyway, I am interested in achieving that sought-after title, “tea connoisseur”. 
Which should I start with? I was thinking at trying one of the blends. But not the Silver Monkey Rare Tea Blend. I’m just not into monkeys picking my tea leaves. Geez, I mean, is this a new way to avoid child labor? And do they at least give those monkeys a decent 401(k) plan and health insurance? 
1. Heck CI, de Mejia EG.Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): a comprehensive review on chemistry, health implications, and technological considerations. J Food Sci. 2007 Nov;72(9):R138-51.
2. Kamangar F, Schantz MM, Abnet CC, Fagundes RB, Dawsey SM. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. High levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mate drinks. 2008 May;17(5):1262-8.
3. Sewram V, De Stefani E, Brennan P, Boffetta P. Maté consumption and the risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer in uruguay. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Jun;12(6):508-13. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12814995?dopt=Abstract.
4. De Stefani E, Boffetta P, Deneo-Pellegrini H, Correa P, Ronco AL, Brennan P, Ferro G, Acosta G, Mendilaharsu M. BMC Cancer. 2007 Mar 29;7:57. Links
5. De Stefani E, Fierro L, Mendilaharsu M, Ronco A, Larrinaga MT, Balbi JC, Alonso S, Deneo-Pellegrini H. Br J Cancer. Meat intake, ‘mate’ drinking and renal cell cancer in Uruguay: a case-control study. 1998 Nov;78(9):1239-43.
6. Goldenberg D. Maté: a risk factor for oral and oropharyngeal cancer. Oral Oncol. 2002 Oct;38(7):646-9.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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