Chinese Diet Teas: Are They Safe?

Chinese teas have long been considered great for dieters. In fact, many companies have manufactured and distributed these products labeled “Chinese diet tea” for those who wish to lose weight. Perhaps the main reason for this production is that many believed that tea by itself carries only 4 calories per serving, and the caffeine in tea is potent enough to increase body function to help burn more calories. Also, it is believed that the polyphenols in tea seem to aid in the digestion of fat, truly making it a Chinese diet tea.

Chinese diet tea, fasting tea, slimming tea, super dieter’s tea, weight loss tea, although they come with somewhat different names, all promote a common message – drink this tea and you will lose weight. However, many experts noted that what you are actually drinking from these products is a plant based laxative that can cause certain disorders like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fainting, chronic constipation and perhaps even death when consumed in excessive amounts.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) once stressed that the laxative teas and dietary supplements of most concern are those containing one or more of the substances, such as aloe, senna, rhubarb root, buckthorn, castor oil, and cascara. These products are derived from plants and have been used since time immemorial for their ability to relieve constipation and promote bowel movements. They are deemed effective for such purposes with occasional use.

When the labeled “Chinese diet teas” are excessively used based on the misconception that frequent bowel movements prevent the absorption of calories that problems tend to occur. Numerous studies have shown that the laxative-induced diarrhea does not significantly reduce absorption of calories for the reason that laxatives don’t work in the small intestine, where the calories are absorbed. It rather works on the colon, which is the lower end of the bowel.

Also found out is that when the Chinese diet teas are misused by steeping the tea longer than product labeling recommends can lead to short as well as long term adverse condition. This is also true when the Chinese diet teas are taken more than the recommended amount.

It has been noted that for those first-time users who drank Chinese diet teas more than the recommended amount, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea are the common disorders to occur and will last for several days. When these laxatives are used continually, laxative dependency will tend to develop with bouts of chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain as well as constipation. In the most severe cases, these laxatives can cause fainting, dehydration and serious electrolyte disorders. As noted, these after-effects of excessive use of Chinese diet teas are most likely to develop in people who are nutritionally compromised due to rigorous weight-loss dieting.

Because of these concerns, the FDA is now considering requiring the manufacturers of labeled “Chinese diet teas” to place warning labels on all of their product stimulant laxatives. It is also important that those who are using Chinese diet teas for any purpose must read and follow the recommended directions carefully. The words indicated on the label under “warning” must then be given attention.

Types of Chinese Tea

Probably you are familiar with the Chinese saying, “Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, and tea are the seven necessities to begin a day.” Though tea is last on the list, we can still see how important the tea is for the Chinese.

There are actually thousand of Chinese tea varieties. These are usually classified by procedure, quality, and preparation methods and so on. However, if we will consider tea in terms of quality, there are actually eight classes of Chinese tea. These include green tea, oolong, black, red, white, yellow, flower, and compressed tea.

Now, let’s take a look at these classes one by one.

Green Tea

Green tea is said to be the most natural type of Chinese tea. It is usually picked, naturally dried and fried briefly to get rid of its grassy smell. Unlike the other types, green tea skipped fermentation process.

According to some experts, green tea has the most medicinal value and the least caffeine content of all Chinese tea classes. The aroma of this type of Chinese type range from medium to high, while the flavor is usually light to medium. Today, about 50% of China’s tea is green tea.

Oolong Tea

This type of Chinese tea is halfway between green tea and black tea in a sense that it is half fermented. Chinese also call it “Qing Cha” and its typical leaves are green in the middle and red on the edges as a result of the process to soften tea leaves.

Oolong tea leaves are basically withered and spread before undergoing a brief fermentation process. Then, it is fried, rolled and roasted.

Black Tea

The Chinese black tea produces full-bodied amber when brewed. Also, this type of Chinese tea undergoes withering, then left to ferment for a long while, and then roasted. The leaves of this variety become completely oxidized after processing.

Red Tea

As the name implies, this type of Chinese tea has red leaves and red tea color. This color is strongly highlighted during the fermentation process. It is also considered that red tea has low aroma and medium flavor and it is now divided into three subclasses: Kung Fu Red Tea, Ted Tea Bits, and Small Species Red Tea.

White Tea

This type of Chinese tea is sometimes considered as subclass of green tea. Perhaps it is for the fact that it is only withered and then roasted. Just like green tea, white tea escaped fermentation process. And, it has low caffeine content.

Yellow Tea

Apparently, yellow tea has yellow leaves and yellow tea color. According to some experts, this type of Chinese tea is an uncommon class of Chinese tea. The flavor of yellow tea is usually mild and refreshing.

Flower Tea

Here is a unique type of Chinese tea – the Flower tea. It actually subdivides into Flower Tea and Scented Tea. Well, the Flower Tea is just based on a simple concept that dried flowers are used, without much processing, to make tea. The Scented Tea, on the other hand, uses green tea and red tea as base and mix with scent of flowers. Generally, this class has light to medium flavor and medium to strong aroma.

Compressed Tea

The final type of Chinese tea is the compressed tea. This class uses black tea as base tea. It is steamed and compressed into bricks, cakes, columns, and other shapes. Also, compressed tea has all the characteristics of black tea. It can be stored for years and decades.

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