One of my favourite ways to relax and unwind is to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of Tea. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my coffee, but if I had to choose one over the other, Tea would win every time.
And I’m not alone. Known as nature’s ‘wonder drug’, many people are rediscovering Tea and the long list of health benefits surrounding it’s consumption. The buzz around Tea has been rapidly growing.
The consumption of Tea in many countries is often an cultural experience and ability of Tea to promote good health is a belief in many countries, especially Japan, China, India, and even England. For many, Tea consumption is an elevated experience. For example, in China, Tea ceremonies are conducted which employs traditional techniques and ritualized protocol of brewing and serving tea for enjoyment in a refined setting. On the contrary, in the United Kingdom, Tea is perceived as one of Britain’s cultural beverages and it is customary good manners for a host to offer tea to guests soon after their arrival. No matter what the occasion, statistics show that after water, Tea is the second most consumed beverage around the world.
The exact origins of Tea is difficult to determine, but the first recorded drinking of Tea was in the 10th century BC, in China. This is no surprise as the Tea plants are native to East and South Asia. It then spread through trade between China and the West, and after the expansion of the Portuguese Empire.
Tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, of which the linder leaves, leaf buds and tender stalks of the plant are used. It is then prepared by pouring boiled water over the cured leaves of the plant. There are so many different types of Tea, but they can generally be divided into categories based on how they are processed. There are at least six different types of tea: Black (called red tea in China), White, Yellow, Green, Oolong (Red) and Post-fermented Tea. There is also Herbal Tea, formerly Tisanes or Infusions, which refer to infusions of fruit or herbs made without the Tea plant. Tisanes are made from placing herbs in hot, near-boiling, or even boiling water, and then steeping them for a short period of time. There are thousands of herbs that can be made into Tisanes.
I will go into each of these categories in future posts, but as a general rule, the degree of processing the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis determines whether a tea will be green, black or red (oolong).
- Green Tea = least processed. The leaves of the Camellia Sinensis are simply steamed quickly before packaging.
- Black and Red Tea = partially dried, crushed and fermented. The length of fermentation, which causes the leaves to blacken, determines whether the tea will be red or black.
There are many thousands of different blends of Tea, but no matter which brew you choose, the benefits are widespread and endless. High in antioxidants, Tea is has a proven anti-inflammatory effect. The catechins found in tea may suppress pain and nausea, and provide calming effects. Furthermore, Tea contains L-theanine, an essential amino-acid, which is associated with a calm but alert mental state, which is common in meditation.
The protective and revitalizing benefits of this ancient drink are truly something to be enjoyed on a daily basis. So, whenever you have the time, put the kettle on and snuggle up to a nice, warm cup of comforting Tea…