Since Shen Nong discovered, more than 4000 years ago, that tea has the power to stimulate and detoxify, the man has not stopped paying attention to its medicinal virtues. From the time when it was considered primarily a medicine, it is its properties that have made its popularity. It was believed that his bitter taste fostered awakening, good general health, and the acquisition of greater wisdom. In Chinese medicine, under the Tang and Song dynasties, the medicinal effects of tea were increasingly recognized; it was recommended to cure and prevent various ailments such as headaches, black thoughts and bad digestion and to dissolve fats. A few centuries later, Li Shizhen (1518-1593), a physician and author of a book entitled Classification of Medicinal Plants, claimed that tea could regulate the body’s internal temperature, calm anxiety, dissolve fats, promote concentration etc.
If the stimulating, diuretic and antibacterial properties of tea have long been recognized by Chinese medicine, it is more recently that its benefits have been confirmed by modern science. Because of its antioxidant properties, the beneficial effects of tea on health are of great interest in medical research, especially with respect to cancer prevention and the treatment of degenerative or cardiovascular diseases. Today, unlike the ancient Taoists, we do not regard tea as an elixir of immortality or a drink with mystical powers. However, there is no doubt that its virtues contribute to our longevity by stimulating the functions of the heart, strengthening the immune system and preventing cell mutations. Of course, the transformation of the leaves favors the appearance of new chemical elements which modify their taste as much as their properties. Thus, each tea family has its own virtues.