Did you know that when tea was first discovered, it was mainly used for medicinal purposes? Over time it became better known as a daily beverage (it’s second only to water), but we’re now rediscovering its health benefits.
I’m a coffee lover and never had much luck finding a satisfying tea, but after hearing so much about how good it was for you, I took some time investigating them, sampling different blends and now I’m hooked!
Here’s what I’ve learned…
Suggested Health Benefits
- Helps prevent gum disease, plaque buildup, bad breath & cavities (it contains fluoride)
- Boosts the immune system, resists infections
- Reduces risk of breast cancer & prevents other cancers
- Lowers the risk of heart disease
- Lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol (HDL) plus prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries)
- Helps with weight loss, raises the metabolic rate, burns calories and speeds up fat oxidation
- Helps fight against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- A great way to stay hydrated and meet the daily water intake requirements
It isn’t meant to replace fruits or vegetables, but its leaves contain more antioxidants than many antioxidant rich produce. The antioxidant activity in two cups of tea is equal to seven glasses of orange juice, five medium-sized onions or four medium-sized apples.
There are plenty of studies done that suggest many more benefits of drinking green tea daily, you can do some research online for more information.
The plant Camellia sinensis is where it comes from and it’s made into four different varieties: Black, Oolong, Green and White Teas. Although they all come from the same plant, each is different in flavor, aroma and color. This is mainly due to how the leaves are prepared.
- Yields a hearty and more pronounced flavor
- Has higher caffeine content
- This is the most popular and one that you’re probably most familiar with
- It has a reddish-orange color
- This is pronounced as “woolong”
- The flavor and caffeine content is between the black and the green varieties
- Oolong is a light brown tea with delicate flavor
- Goes through less processing than the other varieties above, therefore it has more health benefits
- Produces a brew that is pale greenish or yellow in color
- This is the purest form since it undergoes the least amount of processing
- Contains the most amount of anti-oxidants
- Contains the least amount of caffeine
- This is handpicked in early spring, making it limited in quantity
Each of the four types are separated by leaf quality, region they were grown in, how it’s harvested and may be flavored with oils or herbal blends–each giving a different taste experience. That’s why you’ll find many different varieties of Green, White, Oolong and Black teas. It’s quite an adventure to sample all the different varieties available!
Herbal teas are an infusion made from ingredients other than the Camellia sinensis plant. They’re made from herbs and plants (such as mint or chamomile). Although the benefits of them are different than green teas, you’ll still find drinking them a good choice. See this page for how to make your own .
This is gaining in popularity as a beneficial beverage with health qualities compared to green tea, but it’s not a true tea since it doesn’t use leaves from the Camellia consensus plant and comes from the South African shrub Aspalathus linearis.
- Is reported to dissolve and prevent cholesterol buildup (preventing heart disease)
- High in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants
- Contains no caffeine
- Is favored as both a hot and cold drink
- Low in tannin
- Is pronounced as “RoyBoss”
How Much To Drink Daily
Drinking three to ten cups a day is believed a sufficient amount to receive health benefits (with an average of five seeming to meet most requirements).
Since it naturally contains fluoride, you may wish to use fluoride free toothpaste or filtered water so you don’t consume too much fluoride daily (too much fluoride is a problem ).
There is also a suggestion by some that women should limit their intake during pregnancy since there is a concern how large levels of tea may affect fetal development. I haven’t been able to find anything concrete on this nor have I found anything suggesting that women in Asia (who are traditionally consume more) have more difficulties with pregnancies than women who don’t drink it.
It does contain caffeine, but typically 1/3 to 1/2 less than coffee (when comparing liquid volume). To drop the levels of the caffeine you can do a couple things:
- Dump the first steeped batch (steep for about 30 seconds, dump water then add a fresh batch of water to steep)
- You can also reduce the brewing time since the longer it is brewed, the higher the caffeine levels will be (this will affect flavor)
How To Store
It should be handled in the same manner as herbs and spices , you want to keep it sealed airtight, in the dark and avoid moisture.
You can buy small tins or cannisters or just keep them in ziploc bags with as much air removed as possible.
If stored properly, they can be kept quite awhile before becoming stale. I’ve found some suggestions that when stored adequately they are good for years, but fresh is best.
Considering you can brew three full steeps from each measured amount of dried loose tea (without noticeably affecting the flavor), and you only need approximately 1 level teaspoon per cup, paying a little more for good quality is a luxury that you can likely afford. It’s actually quite a frugal beverage–especially when compared to coffee. One blend I enjoy costs me less than 10 cents a cup (and that includes shipping & handling fees)!
My initial experiences with green tea were a turn off, I was trying the boxes of “special” bags you buy in the grocery store. I’ve discovered that these are mainly made of the bits and pieces leftover from making the good stuff (or those that didn’t meet quality requirements for selling as good loose leaf tea). No wonder I could never figure out what the big deal was ;).
If you want to experience what it’s really all about, you need to go to a specialty store or buy some online. They’ll come in packages of loose tea, not as bags, and they taste so much better and are vastly different than the cheap stuff. You really don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started, try a small sample bag or two and you’ll see how many delicious cups that will get you (remember you can get three steeps per teaspoon when using a good quality blend). You may find yourself hooked like I did, but thankfully–this is a guilt-free, inexpensive & healthy addiction ;).
To learn how to brew a pot, you’ll find a step-by-step tutorial on this page .