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Introduction to Tea

Tea has been around for more than 5000 years. It is the second most popular beverage in the world. It was first discovered in China. It has been reported that half of the US population enjoys a tea beverage daily. Drinking tea is one of my favorite things to do. I love to drink tea. A good cup of tea or cuppa tea as some say is everything. As I sit here writing this a memory was triggered about when this love affair began. I attended a tea at a fancy hotel many years ago. Prior to this experience, I was already a tea drinker. The teas that I drank though consisted of teas from tea bags. The teas at this fancy tea were all made from loose teas. From the time I took my first sip, this is going to sound cliché and you’ll probably think this girl needs to get a life, but it is a true story. From the first sip, I stopped hearing the chatter of the ladies around me and was laser focused on what was happening in my mouth. It was a real “oh my” moment. Never had I had such delightful smooth tasting tea. I had so many questions for our server about the teas. From that point forward I was hooked on loose leaf teas.

Believe it or not there are really only 5 types of true tea. They are Black, Green, White, Oolong, and Pu’erh tea. These teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub native to China and India. The plant contains antioxidants called flavonoids. All of these teas contain caffeine. But first, I’m sure you are wondering about “herbal” teas. Herbal teas are made from herbs, fruits, seeds, and roots. Herbal teas have a lower amount of antioxidants and don’t contain caffeine. Some common herbal teas include ginger, mint, chamomile, Echinacea and ginseng. Below are some health benefits of both the true teas and the herbal teas.

True Teas

Black Tea has with the highest content of caffeine of all of the true teas. It has been shown that black tea may protect the lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke and it may reduce the risk of stroke. This tea is made with fermented tea leaves.

Green Tea is made with steamed tea leaves. Green tea has high levels of antioxidants. The antioxidants in green tea have been touted to aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol and the antioxidants are said to disrupt the growth of many cancers.

White Tea is the least processed of the teas; it’s made from the new growth buds and young leaves. It is said that white tea has the most anticancer properties; it is also known to aid in lowering cholesterol levels.

Oolong Tea is made from the stems and the buds and is fermented. This tea lowers risk of cancer, decreases inflammation, boosts energy.

Pu’erh is made from fermented and aged leaves. Pu’erh increases energy, promotes a healthy heart, aids in weight loss, lowers cholesterol and prevents cancer.

Herbal Teas

Mint tea is made from mint leaves. It soothes an upset stomach, helps with digestion, bad breath, and relaxes you by reducing stress.

Ginger tea is made from the ginger root. It’s an herbal remedy that aids in helping with nausea, helps with digestion, morning sickness, reduces inflammation and prevents cancer.

Chamomile tea is made from the flower of the chamomile plant. Antioxidants in the tea may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, it also stunts cancer cells.

Echinacea is made from the flower of the Echinacea plant. Use this tea to help fight the common cold, improves mood, and boosts immunity.

Ginseng is made from the ginseng root. It aids in reduction of inflammation, benefits brain function and may boost immune health.

When brewing tea whether using loose tea leaves or tea bags, start with the best water. When preparing true teas the water temperature and steeps times are crucial to the taste. Teas can be ruined by water that is too hot. Optimal brewing temperatures are for Green Tea is 150 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit steeped for 2 to 4 minutes; White Tea 160 degrees Fahrenheit stepped for 4 to 6 minutes; Black Tea 180-212 degrees Fahrenheit steeped for 4 to 6 minutes; Oolong Team 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit stepped for 5 to 8 minutes; Pu’erh Tea 205-212 degrees Fahrenheit and Herbal Teas 212 degrees Fahrenheit steeped for 5 minutes.

If you are not in the 50 percent of the Americans that are already drinking tea, consider starting. It is a very healthy beverage option and will be a great addition to your diet.


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