Exotic, Healthful and Kosher Tea Anyone?

The West is waking up to what the East has been aware of for centuries! The abundant benefits of drinking tea.

According to recent reports, teas can help prevent illnesses such as specific cancers, heart disease, diabetes and that some teas may actually encourage weight loss, lower cholesterol and improve mental alertness.

One caveat.

The healthful antioxidants added to teas often come from sources that add a level of complexity to the kosher certification of teas. OU Kosher is vigilant about these changes in tea production.

Antioxidants are a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent.

Common sources of antioxidants include citrus fruits, red and yellow peppers, berries, dark leafy greens, sea vegetation, red wine, red meat and fish.

In addition to the latter sources being kosher-sensitive products, the processing equipment also needs to be monitored to prevent cross-contamination between kosher and non-kosher antioxidants.

Genmaicha tea, which is derived from brown rice, is also a kosher-sensitive product because the processes used to prepare the rice can present a kosher concern.

Chinese Insect Tea is by far the most intriguing of all the teas. Produced from the feces of insects that feed on tea plants, the tead is characterized by minimal dose, enjoyable tea flavor, few tea-residues, and superb transparency. Not exactly on the kosher-consumer’s list of coveted teas.

As they say, it’s time to wake up and smell the …healthful, exotic, delicious OU Kosher tea!

Rabbi Akiva Tendler, is an OU Kosher rabbinic coordinator specializing in the kosher certification of tea products and edible oils.