Tea Health Benefits- For The Body
Have you ever wondered what tea is, what is in tea, its health benefits or even how to prepare tea? If you haven’t ever wondered these things this article may not be for you.
Today in this article we will be answering those questions in semi-detail.
The tea plant is an amazing plant that has loads of nutrition for your daily diet. Even if you are an avid coffee drinker you may find that tea can give you that little “pick me up” energy without the hard crash or other side effects that go along with drinking coffee.
But we are not here to convert coffee drinkers we are here to answer some basic questions about tea. But what is it exactly?
What is tea?
Yes, what is tea? It is one of the most consumed drinks in the world coming in second to water. To many novice tea drinkers all true teas come from the same plant.
The scientific name of this all-around plant is Camellia Sinensis. Originally native to Asia but can be now grown all around the world. Camellia literally translates to “Tea Flower” in Chinese.
To make things simple, there are four major categories of tea.
White, Green, Oolong, and Black Tea.
These categories refer to how much the teas are oxidized. White tea is the least oxidized while Black tea is the most oxidized. Oxidization is also known as fermentation. It is the natural process that changes the color and flavor of the leaf.
To initiate oxidation, fresh tea leaves are rolled (either by hand or machine) in order to crack the surface of the leaf so that oxygen will react with the plant’s enzymes.
Generally speaking, the less a tea is oxidized, the lighter it will be in both taste and aroma. Heavily oxidized teas will yield a dark, rich, reddish-brown infusion with a stronger smell and taste.
Basically anything “tea” related derives from Camellia Sinensis plant.
Everything else is considered Herbal or Tisane “teas”. Tisanes, A.K.A Herbal tea, are made from the fresh or dried leaves, bark, roots, seeds, fruits and flowers of various plants. A few examples are chamomile, rooibos, & yerba mate.
We will dive deeper into those different types of tea in a later post. 😉
What is in Tea?
The Camellia Sinensis has other names like tea tree, tea plant or tea shrub. Not all tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis, herbal teas come from herbs, fruits, seeds, or even roots.
The most active ingredients in tea are proanthocyanidins, polymer chains of flavonoids. The best known kind of flavonoids are catechins. Catechins are antioxidants, which means that they prevent oxidation in the body which causes cell damage and ensuing health problems in many organs and tissues.
Scientists don’t always agree about which type of tea is richest in catechins, but it is generally believed that white and green teas are the richest and most potent. As antioxidants, catechins help prevent the effects of stress and support a healthy metabolism.
But as a consequence, they can lower blood lipids and blood pressure, prevent arteriosclerosis, drop blood viscosity and prevent blood clot formation. Tea also contains theobromine and theophyllin, both stimulants as well.
Theobromine is also used to dilate blood vessels, as a diuretic, and heart stimulant. Tea also contains theanine, which has psychoactive properties and has been proven to reduce mental and physical stress, improve mood and cognitive abilities, similarly to coffee.
Another active ingredient in tea is Caffeine, and Caffeine is a strong stimulant. Not all tea contains Caffeine, herbal teas don’t contain Caffeine, herbal tea comes from steeping herbs. The reason all brewed true teas have Caffeine is that the Camellia sinensis has natural occurring Caffeine in it.
Caffeine from tea is thought to absorb more slowly in the body than Caffeine from coffee. This gentle release promotes a longer period of alertness without a jittery rush at the start or crash at the end. Tea is the only plant that contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes calm and relaxation. It works in synergy with the stimulant Caffeine to induce a state of mindful alertness.
So, if you desire a higher amount of Caffeine in your tea brew your tea in hot water and steep it for an extended period. If you don’t want a lot of Caffeine in your tea making it in cooler water with a short steep time will extract less Caffeine
White Tea- Contains about one third the amount of Caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Green Tea- Contains about one third the amount of Caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Oolong Tea- Contains about half the amount of Caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Black Tea- Contains about half the amount of Caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Health Benefits & possible risks
Tea Contains antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols are effective in preventing the growth of tumors and cancers, particularly of the liver, pancreas, intestines, prostate, brain, kidneys, uterus, breasts, and lungs. Drinking tea is also associated with a decreased risk of depression.
Tea has substances linked to a lower risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. So, if you’re looking for the healthiest tea full of antioxidants and lowest Caffeine percentage than white tea is perfect for you. The more the tea ferments the less amount of polyphenol content. So, a more fermented tea would be black tea.
Did you know adding processed sweeteners and sugars to your tea can offset the health benefits of drinking it? Try adding some natural sweeteners like organic or raw honey or coconut nectar.
One of the risks consuming a higher than “normal” amount of tea is t can stain the enamel of your teeth. Tea can also cause insomnia if you drink it to close to your bedtime because of the Caffeine. Tea also has some addictive qualities.
This ancient beverage is addictive and makes you habituated to the external stimulant. Therefore, without it, you may feel weak and worn out as your own energy level drops down below normal and you will eventually want more. It can cause organ damage from the alkaloids, tannin, and Caffeine.
Tea can have harmful effects in the long run and can even damage the liver and lungs if excessively consumed. This harmful effect can be lessen by adding lemon/lime juice or milk to your tea.
Tea can also suppress your appetite. But that can be a good or bad effect depending on how you look at it.
How you prepare & brew tea can effect how strong your cup will be once it is all finished.
Different ways to prepare & consume tea
Have you ever known someone or have been that person that has had a negative experience with tea being too bitter or too dull?
If you want to have a better tasting cup of tea than look no further!
The first steps to making the “Perfect Cup” is to understand the 5 parts that make up this method; water, weight, temperature, time and equipment. I know, I know you are probably thinking “What is a perfect cup?? and why are there 5 parts to making a good cup of tea??”. Well lemme tell ya right hurr right now why these 5 parts are crucial to making that “perfect cup”.
Your tea is only as good as your water.
The first most important part to this process is the water that is being used to make this cup of tea. H20 is important and the type of H20 is even more important when brewing your favorite cup of tea.
Fresh, filtered tap water brings out the best in your tea leaves. Whereas well water that has minerals in it that may alter the taste and look of your tea.
The second part is the weight or the amount that goes into making the tea. The rule of thumb is 2.5 grams per 8 ounces of water. Nowadays mugs are much larger so you have to gauge on the amount of tea depending on how big of a mug you are using for your tea time.
You do not have to measure the weight exactly it is mainly referring to how many teaspoons that go into the cup.
So, for a heavy dense tea you can use one teaspoon per cup. While a light, voluminous tea with large leaves you will need to use 2-3 teaspoons per cup.
Always remember to put the leaves in BEFORE the water! The act of pouring water over the tea leaves creates a little whirlpool effect that mixes the tea and water perfectly, beginning the brewing process.
Thirdly in this five part process is the temperature of the water being used to create this drink. The ideal temperature is 195 Fahrenheit.
If the water is too hot, some teas will become bitter. If it is too cool than the flavor will be dull and flat.
To get the right temperature for your tea let the water come to a complete boil, otherwise it will not be hot enough to bring out the full flavor of the tea. Then, when it hits the boiling point take it off the heat and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
Water cools down very quickly so when it is cooled down it should be at about the correct temperature for your brew.
The fourth and equally important step is give your tea TIME to brew.
Black tea typically steeps 3-5 minutes but any longer and it can become astringent. It mainly depends on how strong the individual likes their tea.
Dark Oolong and White teas are typically a little more forgiving if steeped a little longer than 3-5 minutes. They will still be drinkable if steeped longer than the set 3-5 minute time mark.
When it comes to the lighter oolong and green teas those need special attention. They only need to be steeped for 2 or 3 minutes if you want the cup to be a little stronger.
Any longer for those teas and you will leave with a puckered face and disappointed cup of tea.
The fifth and last step to this process is the type of equipment used for this tea making.
There are 3 things you will need to brew a cup of tea.
1. A way to boil water, such as a stove top kettle, an electric kettle, or a microwave. (These are just a few among many ways to boil water)
2. A teapot or a cup to steep the tea
3. A strainer, infuser basket, or fill-your-own teabag.
I personally like the electric kettle because it is perfect for those who drink tea daily. All you do is fill up the kettle with water, press a button, and the water heats up! Simple and easy.
A teapot is good for people who want to share their delicious creation with others. There are even clear teapots so you can see your tea leaves expand while steeping! (Yes, I am one of those humans who get excited about tea leaves expanding. :D)
Infuser baskets are a good way if you want to steep the tea in your own mug. It gives the tea leaves plenty of room to expand.
Fill-your-own teabags come in handy if you would like to personalize the flavor without worrying if someone else will like the combination.
So, now you know how to make that “Perfect Cup” of tea. Hopefully you will give these 5 parts a try, so you can now enjoy a better tasting cup of tea! 🙂
Tea is a beneficial beverage to add to your daily routine.
Its origins trace back to the Asian continent from a plant called Camellia Sinensis. But the Camellia isn’t the only type of tea.
A non-true tea can also be from roots, flowers, herbs fruits or seeds. These types of “tea” are called Tisanes or more commonly known as Herbal teas.
Tea is rich with antioxidants that aid in your mental, physical, spiritual health.
Tea like coffee has stimulants called caffeine. Caffeine from tea absorbs more slowly which creates a longer period of alertness. An important step to remember is that your tea is only as good as your water. The more minerals in your water the less you can taste the flavor of the tea along with the color of your tea being “off”.
So, using fresh filter water is one of the best ways to go when consuming this delicate beverage.
Thank you for your time and we hope this has given you more clarity about tea and its benefits to you and your body.