After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. It is simply a matter of boiling water and putting cured leaves from the Camellia Sinensis tree in hot water. In the 3 th century AD, tea was first described as a medicinal drink , Its popularity quickly spread across the globe thanks to merchants. Great Britain introduced afternoon tea in the early 19 th century. This was a refreshing break from the daily grind that involved tea and sandwiches and baked goods like scones. Tea flavour varies depending on where and how the leaves were grown and processed. The most widely consumed tea worldwide is black tea, followed by green and oolong teas.
The Camellia is not used in herbal teas. Instead, they are made from dried herbs, spices and fruits, and seeds and roots from other plants. They do not contain caffeine like traditional teas.
- Caffeine (traditional teas, but not herbal)
- Flavonols – myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol
- Theaflavins are formed when black tea leaves have been oxidized
- Catechins – are found in green tea. Epigallocatechin-3 Gallate (EGCG), is the main form.
Traditional teas are low in nutrients but high in polyphenols. These plant chemicals give teas their distinctive flavour and aroma and could have health-promoting properties.
Tea and Health
Due to the high levels of polyphenols in tea, animal studies have suggested that there may be health benefits. Although human studies are less conclusive than animal studies, they still show promise. Studies have shown that tea drinking of 2 to 3 cups per day is associated with lower rates of stroke, premature death, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Drinking tea at a higher temperature (more than 131-140degF [55-60deg Celsius]) may increase the risk of stomach and esophageal cancers. These harmful and healthful associations need to be confirmed by randomized controlled trials. There is little to no risk in drinking tea, except when hot. Please choose a colour and let it cool before you enjoy a cup of tea.
You may be amazed at the variety of teas available when you go to a tea shop. The Camellia Sinensis plant is used to make traditional teas. These teas include black, green, yellow and yerba mate. The process of making black tea involves drying and crushing fresh tea leaves. Once the leaves are dried, they are allowed to ferment. This oxidizes them and alters their flavour. Oolong tea is partially fermented, while green tea does not undergo fermentation. Matcha is a unique form of green tea where the leaves are dried and ground into fine powder.
Decaffeinated teas are removed most of the caffeine naturally found in the leaves. There may be trace amounts of caffeine. This can be done using carbon dioxide, water processing, or ethyl Acetate.
Many herbal teas are naturally free of caffeine, including chamomile and peppermint, vanilla, turmeric, ginger, and other fruit essence teas. You can find notes of fruit, mint and spice, and sweetness and bitterness. There are many options available, so it is up to you to choose.
Tea bags, tea sachets and loose-leaf teas come in various packaging options. Loose-leaf teas are sold in tea bags, tea sachets, or tin canisters. This allows you to choose how much tea you want to drink. Tea bags and sachets are easy to carry and hold the right leaves.
To keep your tea fresh, you need to know five things: heat, light, moisture, odour and air. Tea bags should be kept in the original container or a sealed plastic bag. Loose-leaf Teas should be kept in an airtight container. All teas should be kept in the dark cupboard at room temperature. Tea absorbs odours from food and can even be contaminated by strong-scented teas. Keep them apart. Refrigerating and freezing tea is not recommended, as moisture can cause it to become stale.
Tea can be kept unopened for one year after its “best before” date. Teas that have been opened can last for about one year. Some teas, such as oolong and black teas, can last for up to 2 years. Delicate teas, however, may only last 6 months. Your best guide for determining the shelf life of a tea is its flavour.
Avoid buying expensive bottled teas and teas from shops that use added sweeteners. You can get the best out of tea by making your own. It can be brewed hot or iced in a pitcher during the warmer months.
Oolong and black teas should be brewed in hot water or boiling water (approximately 210o F) for approximately 4-5 minutes. Green tea can be steeped for between 4 and 15 minutes at 180o F. The stronger the taste with bitter notes, the longer the tea steeps.
The polyphenol content in tea can be reduced by adding sugar, cream, and milk. You can get the best health benefits from tea if you serve it plainly or with minimal additives. Vanilla or cinnamon can be used to mimic sweetness. Some herbal teas flavoured with fruit taste sweet without the addition of sweeteners.