The names and descriptions of various types of teas can be confusing, but all the familiar types of Chinese teas - green tea, black tea, white tea, Oolong - are all made from the dried leaves of the tea bush, Camellia sinensis var. Sinensis. The plant is native to China, South and Southeast Asia and commonly called a tea plant or tea shrub. The special features of white tea is that it is picked when the leaf buds are still small and unopened and show fine silvery-white hair like structures. For this reason, white tea is also sometimes called "silver tip" tea. Unlike green and black teas, which are processed to oxidize the leaves under controlled heat and humidity (in a method known as fermentation), white tea is subjected to minimal processing: The young leaf buds are allowed to wither in natural sunlight, then are dried; that is all that is done to them. Because the leaves are so young, and the tea undergoes so little preparation, white tea is considered to provide the most natural flavor of tea. Although tea historians are not sure of the exact date when white tea first began to be produced, it was probably in the early 19th century in Fujan Province, China; it now also grown and prepared in Taiwan and northern Thailand
Vitis Vinifera is a perennial vine that continues to grow and produce for many years. The stems can grow to a length of 35 meters, but they are typically pruned to only 1 to 3 meters in length for better manageability and to avoid overburdening of the main stem. The thin leaves feature jagged edges. Preferring a well-drained growing medium, the Vitis Vinifera produces small clusters of flowers during the months of May, June, and July. The flowers give off a sweet scent. Soon after the flowers bloom, they produce small, oval, pulpy fruit in large clusters. The fruit ripens in the early fall months of September and October.
The Vitis Vinifera enjoys both full sun and semi-shady conditions. Training of the vines is necessary in order to encourage proper growth. Pruning is essential to encourage high yields. In general, the longer the grapes remain on the vine, the higher the content of sugar they contain is. Therefore, early harvesting of the grapes is not recommended when they are being used for edible purposes.
The ancient Egyptians included grapes in their dietary intake, believing them to encourage good health. Ancient Greek philosophers partook of wine, praising its healing properties. In European folk medicine, the sap of young Vitis Vinifera branches has been used to treat a variety of skin diseases as well as diseases of the eye over the course of many thousands of years. Grape leaves were often used to slow bleeding, reduce inflammation, and soothe pain, particularly that caused by hemorrhoids. This plant has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the last two thousand years.
The unripe fruit of this plant is considered to have astringent properties. It was used in remedies designed to treat throat afflictions, hoarseness, coughs, fevers, stomach upsets, and consumption. Dried grapes (raisins) were used to relieve the discomfort of constipation as well as to reduce thirst. The ripest of grapes were often part of a remedy designed to heal nausea, cholera, smallpox, and liver diseases.
Grape seeds contain oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), offering exceptional benefits for the skin. While OPCs can be found in other plant life such as apples, cocoa beans, and green tea, the concentration found in grape seed extract is one of the highest levels ever known. Oligomeric proanthocyanidins hold potent antioxidant capabilities. These abilities are considered stronger than the antioxidant benefits offered by either vitamin E or vitamin C. Antioxidants are responsible for safeguarding the body from free-radical damage. They are also credited with the ability to slow down the growth of pre-malignant cancer cells, helping to prevent the development of cancer. Antioxidants offer the ability to fight tumors by inhibiting their growth. Grape seed has been used to protect against heart disease and circulatory problems.
The OPCs contained in Vitis Vinifera encourage the use of it as an ingredient in skin care formulas. It stabilizes collagen and prevents the loss of elastin, so it is used to promote youthful skin. Grape seed oil has also been used to treat edema, which is the swelling that occurs when the tissues retain too much fluid. While scientific evidence suggests that grape seed extract is useful in treating edema, many of the other claims await validation. Grape vine extract can be used to naturally brighten the skin, alleviating discoloration from sun spots, acne marks and the mask of pregnancy.
Grape seeds are high in linoleic acid, flavonoids, OPCs, and vitamin E. The skin of the grapes contains these compounds at lower levels. Grape seed extract is taken from the seeds of grapes. It contains water-soluble bioflavonoids that rejuvenate health, nourish blood vessel walls, and promote healthy blood pressure levels. Grape seed oil is capable of providing deep moisturizing capabilities to skin tissue. As a highly effective emollient, it strengthens the skin's ability to retain moisture by enhancing its cell barrier capabilities. It is often used in skin care formulas and soaps.