Rona Tison (Brooklyn, NY), ITO EN (North America) INC. “Preparing Tea, Tea Varieties and Health Benefits.”
Rona Tison is Senior Vice-President of Ito En North America, a Japanese Tea Company. They are the largest importer to the United States of loose leaf tea and bottled green tea. Their bottled (“ready to drink”) brand sells under the name, “Teas’ Tea.”
Rona grew up in Japan and always drank tea, which is part of Japan’s cultural history. She doesn’t like soda. Rona went to college at UC Berkeley, majoring in retailing. She later helped a friend start of green tea business in the US.
Sharon sees tea as a way to promote ongoing good health, “before you run to the medicine cabinet.” Diet and lifestyle are critical to health.
Ms. Tison described the health benefits of tea, which began thousands of years ago as a medicinal drink: Tea is a powerful anti-oxidant that absorbs free radicals and is good for anti-aging. Tea is also a stress reducer (despite its caffeine content) because people tend to be relaxed and tranquil when drinking it.
According to Rona, there is only one “true” tea (as opposed to herbal teas and blended teas), which is the leaves of the plant Camellia sinesis (“Chinese camellia”). This plant gives us green, oolong, black and white tea. Green tea leaves are unwilted an unoxidized while black tea is fully cured. Chamomile and red zinger are herbal teas while Earl Grey is a blended tea consisting of black tea plus oil from the rind of the bergamot orange. Green tea with jasmine oil is another popular blend.
Black tea is heartier and more robust than other Camellia teas but with fewer nutrients. It has one-third the caffeine of coffee. True tea is high in vitamin C.