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Peng Yong Senior professor

Study on Chinese health tea & Herb tea

Han biqun,Peng yong*

(Beijing Union Medical College, Institute of medicinal plants, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Key Laboratory of material basis and resource utilization of Chinese herbal medicine, Ministry of education, Beijing 100193)

Abstract: Health tea is our precious intangible cultural heritage. It is the summary of the long-term struggle against nature and disease of people of all ethnic groups in China. The development and research of health tea is of great value to the development of ecological industry in western ethnic regions. Folk drinking experience has proved that health tea has the functions of clearing heat and detoxification, eliminating food and resolving accumulation, promoting swallowing and relieving cough, and is safe and non-toxic. Modern research shows that health tea contains flavonoids, polyphenols, terpenoids, volatile oil and other chemical components, with antioxidant, antibacterial, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, immune promotion, anti-tumor, liver protection and anti-inflammatory activities. Health tea is an important research object in the prevention and treatment of chronic metabolic diseases. This paper makes a preliminary research on the types of Chinese health tea, and investigates its traditional application. Combined with modern chemical composition and pharmacological activity, it lays a foundation for the further research and development of Chinese health tea.

Key words: health tea; original plant; application history; chemical composition; pharmacological activity

In ancient China, there were many kinds of plants from various sources for tea drinking. We call these teas, which have been used for a long time and are widely used for tea drinking among the people, health tea, And give the following definition: "health tea refers to those plants that do not belong to camellia of thcaceae family. They have a long history of drinking tea in a certain area and a certain ethnic group, and they are still in use today, and there are still Commodities in the market circulation." Health tea is an important weapon for the prevention and treatment of chronic metabolic diseases; it is an integral part of China's tea culture, which has important value for saving the diversity of tea culture in China (especially in ethnic minority areas); it is a good object for the development and research of new drugs and health products. The development and research of health tea is of great significance to the development of western ethnic regions and ecological industry.

The research and arrangement of Chinese traditional health tea system is blank. By means of literature research and bibliometrics, combined with on-the-spot investigation and market survey, the author makes textual research and collation on Chinese health tea.

1. Diversity of health tea

The diversity of health tea is mainly reflected in the diversity of original plant sources and application parts.

There are 23 main health tea in China, which belong to 19 families, 22 genera and 35 species. The origin of health tea family is different, and its original plants are also different in morphology and application parts, as shown in Table 1.

The author thinks that health tea is an integral part of tea culture in China, and the application of health tea is influenced by tea culture. Although the family origin of health tea is more extensive than that of Camellia in the traditional sense, and its application parts are also greatly expanded, 70% of health tea are shrubs or trees, and they are all used in buds, leaves, leaves or twigs, which is similar to Camellia in morphology and application. And some kinds of health tea are directly in the form of tea camellia substitutes, such as the appearance and large-scale promotion of Scutellaria tea in the North may be closely related to the two "tea bans" in history [1]; the application of rattan tea is also related to avoiding the tea tax of the government at that time [2].

Table 1 origin and application parts of 23 main health tea in China








黄芩Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi





并头黄芩S. scordifolia Fisch





滇黄芩S. amoena C. H. Wright





粘毛黄芩S.viscidula Bunge





毛豹皮樟Litsea coreana Levl var. lanuginose (Migo) Yang et P.H.Huang





连翘Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl





罗布麻Apocynum venetum L.




青钱柳Cyclocarya paliurus (Batal.) Iljinsk.




亮叶杨桐Adinandra nitida Merr. ex Li




山蜡梅Chimonanthus nitens Oliv.




柳叶蜡梅Chimonanthus salicifolius Hu





浙江蜡梅Ch. zhejiangensis





显齿蛇葡萄Ampelopsis grossedentata (Hand.-Mazz.) W.T.Wang





雪茶Thamnolia vermicularis










金丝刷Lethariella cladonioides





金丝带L. zahlbruckneria





金丝绣球L. cashmeriana





柔金丝L. sernanderi





大叶冬青Ilex latifolia Thunb.





扣树(苦丁茶冬青)Ilex kaushue S. Y. HuIlex kudingcha C. J. Tseng)[23]





粗壮女贞(紫茎女贞)Ligustrum robustum (Roxb.) Blume(L . purpurascens Y. C . Yang)





甜茶Rubus suavissimus S.Lee





木姜叶柯(多穗柯) Lithocarpus litseifolius (Hance) ChunLithocarpus polystachyus Rehd





草珊瑚Sarcandra glabra (Thunb.) Nakai





紫苏Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt.




菊花Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat. ) Tzvel.





大麦Hordeum vulgare L.





忍冬Lonicera japonica Thunb.





海南冬青Ilex hainanensis Merr.




黄连木Pistacia chinensis Bunge





三叶海棠Malus sieboldii (Regel) Rehd.





湖北海棠Malus hupehensis (Pamp.) Rehd.





枸杞Lycium chinense Mill.




宁夏枸杞Lycium barbarum L.



Note: 1. Ligustrum henryi Hemsley, Ligustrum pedunculare Rehder and Ligustrum sinense are the local products of Kuding tea var.myrianthum (Diels) Hoefker. [3]。 The local products of eagle tea include Machilus chuanchieneneie s.k.lee and Actinodaphne cupularis (Hemsl.) gamble [4].
2. The exact age of health tea marked with "*" in the table needs further research.

2. Application history and scope of health tea

Health tea has a long history of use and a wide range of users, with predictable safety.

Among the 23 health preserving teas, 9 teas have been used for thousands of years; 3 teas have been used for 500-1000 years; 6 teas have been used for 300-500 years; and 5 teas are unknown, as shown in Table 2.

Among the 32 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, 27 provincial administrative units are the main application areas of health tea, as shown in Table 2. The regional distribution of health tea: 11 in South China > 10 in East China > 9 in Central China > 7 in Southwest China > 4 in Northwest China > 3 in North China > 2 in Northeast China.

The distribution of health tea is more in the South than in the north, and more in the east than in the West. The area where health tea is concentrated is also the area where species diversity and ethnic diversity are concentrated. However, in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet and Qinghai, which are also inhabited by ethnic minorities, there are not many kinds of health tea, which is related to the low species diversity caused by the local environment and the local economic development. For example, drinking tea is one of the traditional habits of Mongolian people. Hasbagen began to investigate the traditional tea plants of Mongolian people in the 1980s, and identified 20 species of plants in 11 families [5], but there were no real commercial species, which were not included.

Table 2 application history and application scope of 23 main health tea in China

Note: 1. The application history of health tea reported in the table is earlier than the earliest recorded by the author.
2. The exact age of health tea marked with "*" in the table needs further research.

3. Effect of health tea on nature and taste

In terms of drug properties, most of the 23 health preserving teas were cold, accounting for 74%, as shown in Table 3.

From the efficacy point of view, the 23 health tea includes five categories: antipyretic, Xiaoshi, Qufengshi and pingganxifeng. Among them, there are 17 antipyretic drugs, accounting for 74%, as shown in Table 3.

"Compendium of Materia Medica" contains: "tea bitter and cold, Yin in Yin, Shen also, Jiang also, the most can reduce fire." Health tea is mostly cold and cool products. Some of them were originally used as substitutes for camellia, and may also be related to the way they were taken. The use of brewing this way with a large amount of water to take, on the human body to produce a better cooling thirst quenching, heat under the fire effect.

Besides the similarity with camellia, health tea also has some characteristics that tea does not have. In terms of taste, there is a large category of health tea with sweet taste, which is commonly known as "sweet tea" in the folk. According to the preliminary statistics of Xiao Wei [29], there are 18 kinds of "sweet tea" in 14 genera of 10 families in China. There is also a kind of health tea with special flavor.

Table 3 quality and taste efficacy of 23 main health tea in China




Sweet tea


Clearing heat, detoxifying, invigorating fluid, moistening lung, relieving cough and benefiting pharynx

Ampelopsis grossedentata



It can clear away heat and toxin, eliminate inflammation and throat, reduce blood pressure and fat, and eliminate fatigue

Chrysanthemum Tea



Shufeng Qingre, Pinggan Mingmu, antitussive expectorant, anti-inflammatory detoxification




Cool thirst, detoxification, diuresis, Xiaoji

Duosuike tea



Clearing away heat and diuresis, nourishing liver and kidney, harmonizing stomach and reducing adverse reactions, moistening lung and relieving cough

Chinese wolfberry leaf tea




Tonifying deficiency and essence, dispelling wind and improving eyesight, clearing heat and relieving thirst

Big leaf Kuding tea


Quench thirst, improve eyesight, eliminate vexation, refresh, eliminate phlegm, benefit water and throat

leaflet kuding tea


Cool, antipyretic and diuretic

Malus sieboldii



Clearing away heat and relieving thirst

Pistacia chinensis tea



Heat clearing, moistening and detoxification

Snow tea



Antipyretic, antitussive, anti-inflammatory, sedative

Honeysuckle tea



Clearing away heat, eliminating sores and heat

tea baicalin



Clearing away heat and dampness, purging fire and detoxification, anti inflammation and promoting digestion

Forsythia leaf tea



Clearing heat and relieving heat and detoxifying antiphlogistic appetizer and relieving alcohol nourishing the liver

folium ilicis hainanensis



Qingrejiesengjin quench thirst to accumulate digestion

Cliff tea



Shengjin quench thirst antiphlogistic clearing heat and detoxification

Cyclocarya paliurus tea



Enhance physical strength, prolong life, and quench thirst, clear heat and relieve heat



Eliminate thirst, dissipate heat, stop diarrhea, stop hiccup, dissipate food and relieve distension

roasted barley tea




Spleen appetizer digestion stagnation

Food cool tea


Expel wind and jiebiao to regulate qi, invigorate spleen, clear heat, detoxify and stop diarrhea

Perilla tea


Dispersion cold solution table Qi wide chest

Section bone tea



Clearing heat and detoxification, dispelling wind, activating luo, regulating qi, relieving pain, clearing liver, mingmu and refreshing stomach

apocynum venetum tea



Prevent heatstroke, relieve headache, clear depression, invigorate spleen and stomach

4. Chemical constituents of health tea

Health tea contains flavonoids, polyphenols, terpenoids, volatile oil, alkaloids, organic acids and other components. Among them, flavonoids and polyphenols are more studied.

Flavonoids have a variety of physiological activities. There are some varieties with high content of flavonoids in health tea. Among them, Tengcha (36-45%) [30,31], Shiya tea (28.4%) [32], duosuike tea (22.2%) [33] are more worthy of attention. Some of these flavonoids have unique physiological activities. For example, duosuike tea and Hubei Begonia can be used as resource plants to extract high sweet phloridzin [34-37]; perilla tea contains a large number of anthocyanins with strong antioxidant effect (content is 5.6%) [38]; Ampelopsis grossedentata contains dihydromyricetin with significant vasodilator and calcium blocking effect (up to about 20%) [39]. Camellia (1 ~ 3%) [40,41] does not have the high content of flavonoids with extensive physiological activities.

Tea polyphenols are important physiological active substances in Camellia. Health tea also has some varieties with high polyphenol content, such as eagle tea [6] (49.8%), Tengcha [42] (21.8%), Shiya tea [32] (20.9%), and tea camellia [43] (20% - 35%).

Terpenoids are also quite common in health tea. The sweet component of Cyclocarya paliurus is mainly dammarane triterpenoid saponins, which is the characteristic component of Cyclocarya paliurus [44]; the main sweet component of Guangxi sweet tea is a tetracyclic diterpenoid glycoside (1.5%) [45].

The kinds of health tea with special flavor often have high content of volatile oil, such as shiliangcha [46] (1.82% ~ 2.46%, the content of flowering period can reach 2.90%), Jiegu tea [47] (0.157 ~ 0.446%), Laoying tea [48,49] (0.1 ~ 0.2%), perilla tea [50] (0.1% ~ 0.2%), shankucha, etc., which are much higher than Camellia [43] (0.02%).

Caffeine in camellia is the main substance causing insomnia. The health tea containing caffeine and its homologues were reported as follows: Shiya tea [32] (1.6%), duosuike tea [33] (1.4%), Qingqianliu tea [51] (no content report) and Daye Kuding tea [6] (0.0228 ~ 0.0436%), but the content of caffeine in green tea was still lower than that in green tea (1 ~ 4%). It is a suitable substitute for tea for those who like to drink tea and avoid insomnia caused by caffeine.

5. Pharmacological activity of health tea

The pharmacological activities of 23 kinds of health tea were summarized. In the process of sorting out, for the convenience of statistics, according to the correlation of pathogenesis, chrysanthemum tea "vasodilator" is classified as "blood pressure lowering"; big leaf Kuding tea "anti early pregnancy" is classified as "anti fertility"; Hubei Begonia "anti liver fibrosis" is classified as "liver protecting"; barley tea "low cholesterol" is classified as "blood lipid lowering". The statistical results are shown in Table 4 and figure 1.

Table 4 pharmacological effects of health tea


pharmacological action

Forsythia leaf tea

Anti oxidation, anti-aging, liver protection, heart protection, lipid regulation, weight loss, anti fatigue, immune regulation, anti stress, antibacterial, hypoglycemia

Apocynum venetum tea

It can reduce blood pressure, blood lipid, anti atherosclerosis, anti-aging, anti-oxidation, anti depression, sedation, liver protection, kidney protection, immune promotion, anti radiation, anti hypoxia, anti convulsion, anti inflammation and diuresis

Food cool tea

Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, anti-viral, weight loss, lowering blood lipid, anti-tumor, lowering blood pressure, analgesia, antitussive, expectorant, immunity, stimulating uterus

snow tea

Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, anti-fatigue, anti-radiation immunity, anti-hypoxia and anti-oxidation

sweet tea

Antioxidant, inhibition of small intestinal contraction, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-caries, anti-blood glucose, anti-lipid, anti-fatigue, immunological promotion

Duosuike tea

Hypoglycemic, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti allergic

Mountain green tea

Protect the heart, reduce blood lipid, protect the liver, antithrombotic, antihypertensive


Antioxidant, hypoglycemic, antibacterial, anti hypoxia, anti fatigue, anti hypotension, anti liver fibrosis, estrogen like effect

Malus sieboldii

Antioxidant, antihypertensive, antiinflammatory, bacteriostatic, bacteriostatic, hypoglycemic

Pistacia chinensis tea

Antioxidant, antibacterial and estrogen like activities

Perilla tea

Antibacterial, antiviral, hemostatic, antioxidant, antiallergic, sedative, analgesic, antitumor

Barley tea

Reduce cholesterol, anti-tumor, immune promotion

large-leaved Kuding tea

Antioxidant, antihypertensive, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, increase coronary flow, anti early pregnancy, hypoxia tolerance, weight loss

Chinese wolfberry leaf tea

Hypoglycemic, hypoxia resistant, anti fatigue, hypolipidemic, antioxidant

tea baicalin

Heart protection, anti atherosclerosis, liver protection, antipyretic, analgesic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, immune promotion, central nervous protection, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, anti-tumor, antioxidant

Jiegu tea

Anti inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-tumor, immune promotion, analgesia, wound healing, anti ulcer

Honeysuckle tea

Antiviral, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, liver protection, immune promotion, antibacterial, antioxidant, antitumor, hemostatic, antifertility

Chrysanthemum Tea

Anti tumor, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, vasodilator, hypolipidemic, lead excretion, anti-aging

Litsea coreana

Anti-oxidation, liver protection, hypoglycemia, blood lipids, anti-inflammation, anti-mutation, anti-tumor immune promotion

Cyclocarya paliurus tea

Reduces blood glucose, blood lipid, immunity, anti-tumor, anti-oxidation, anti-bacteria and blood pressure

Cliff tea

Antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-tumor

Ampelopsis grossedentata

Antibacterial, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antitumor, immune promotion, sobering up, anti-inflammatory, analgesic

small-leaved Kuding tea

Antioxidant, antihypertensive, hypolipidemic, analgesic, weight loss

Figure 1. Pharmacological distribution of health tea

6 summary and discussion

Health tea refers to those plants that do not belong to camellia of thcaceae family, and "tea" here only refers to one kind of application. There are 23 main health tea in China, which belong to 19 families, 22 genera and 35 species. The shape and application of health tea and Camellia are similar, which in a sense reflects the similarity of the origin of health tea and tea and the influence of tea culture on health tea. Health tea is an integral part of Chinese tea culture, and the diversity of health tea enriches Chinese tea culture.

Health tea also has some characteristics that tea does not have. In addition to tea polyphenols, there are also some varieties with high content of flavonoids in health tea, and the content of flavonoids is more than 20%. It contains a kind of non sugar high sweetness substance, which has a good development prospect. Health tea does not contain or contains a small amount of caffeine. It is a good substitute for tea for those who like to drink tea and have a taboo on caffeine. Health tea is a summary of the long-term struggle against nature and diseases of all ethnic groups in China. It has a variety of pharmacological activities, especially in reducing blood fat, blood sugar, blood pressure, immune promotion and anti-tumor. Health tea is an important target for the prevention and treatment of chronic metabolic diseases.

With the development of health tea, the establishment of health tea production standardization is the basic guarantee for its sustainable development. At present, only the gap and SOP of herbal tea in Zhejiang Province have been studied.

In a word, health tea is an integral part of Chinese tea culture. It is a kind of drink suitable for long-term drinking and preventing chronic metabolic diseases. It has good development potential.