Health Benefits of Tea

Health Benefits of Tea

Tea is one of the oldest drinks and the variety it has will put  wine to shame. Drinking tea has some great health benefits attached to it. However you intake this ancient drink you will be benefited. Here are a few benefits of drinking tea.

  • Contains Anti-Oxidants – Tea contains anti-oxidants which will keep your body from ageing. No it will not keep you forever young but will slow the ageing process. Chinese and Japanese people drink the most tea and age very slowly.
  • Reduces risk of heart attack – Tea contains certain chemicals which smooths your arteries and keeps them supple. It also helps in breaking the cholesterol globules. Drinking two to three cups of tea daily reduces risk of heart attack up to seventy percent.
  • Protects your bones – The phytochemicals present in tea helps to increase the bone density resulting in stronger bones. The added milk also adds to the calcium required. However tea is best without adding any additives.
  • Protects teeth – It is not a joke. The dental problems arise due to sugar added to tea. If had without sugar tea actually keeps plaque at bay as it contains fluoride and tannin.
  • Improves immunity – Tea increases the platelet count and helps improve the effectiveness of immune system. It was found in a study that tea drinkers had less chances of catching cold than who were non drinkers.
  • Anti Carcinogenic – Tea contains polyphenols that are effective in fighting off the cancerous tissue. Drinking tea will help you protect against possible cancerous growth.
  • Calorie free and increases metabolism – For getting this benefit you need to drink tea without adding sugar or milk. It will increase your metabolism, improve digestion and is surprisingly calorie-free.
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Interesting facts about tea

It is known that tea has huge health benefits and is one of the oldest drinks in the world. The chinese discovered tea and the British popularised it. There are many interesting facts about tea. Most of the people of the world drink tea in the morning to wake up.

Tea
                         Tea

 

  • Most consumed drink – If you leave out water, then tea is the most consumed drink of the world. It leaves popular drinks like coffee and alcoholic beverages far behind.
  • All varieties come from the same plant – All the varieties of tea originate from the same plant with scientific name Camellia Sinensis. Chinese specialize in production of green tea while the Sri Lankans are specialist of black tea production.
  • Taste of different varieties are due to processing – The different kinds of tea taste different due to their processing style. Black tea is the most oxidised and the green tea the least oxidised. White tea is the fermented version of tea.
  • Herbal tea is not tea – The herbal tea which you get in the market is not tea. It is called tisane and only has flavour like tea.
  • Tasters of tea are specialists – The tea tasters are specialists just like the wine tasters.The tasters look for specific flavours. Only people with sensitivity to flavour can have this amazing job.
  • Lesser the processing better it is for health – Least processed tea is the one which retains the benefits. The purest tea does not taste that good but is a tonic to the whole body.
  • Black tea is more popular than green tea – In spite of the health benefits of green tea black tea is more popular. It started as a preservation process which changed the flavour of green tea. The british colonisation is one of the reasons for tea becoming such a popular drink.

Tea Ceremonies.

 

Japanese Tea ceremony carried out by a beautifully dressed geisha
Japanese Tea ceremony

 

Tea making can be an art as in the lovely tradition of a Japanese tea ceremony, where the process of making the tea is important. We have all seemed images of the immaculate and elegant geisha’s preparing the tea in beautiful Japanese Tea gardens and I for one have often imagined what it would be like to attend one. Now I do not think I will be visiting japan anytime soon but I could be in London and attend an event at Urasenke. The UK London branch of this non profit  Foundation have as their goal, to introduce and spread knowledge of Chado, The Way of Tea, a Japanese tradition with more than 400 hundred years history.  As we have seen other cultures have their own versions of drinking tea and for the  English it has been teapots and tea cosies and afternoon tea. In some ways I am sad that this does not continue in most homes, although we do not seem to have the time to do this anymore – maybe we should, maybe slowing down and drinking out well made tea is what is important.

Today you get a tea bag in a mug with water from the tap and lots of sugar!!  I went to visit a friend the other day and she makes her own fruit teas, using the peel and core from fruit, especially apple, quince and pear. The peel she often freezes when there is an abundance but prefers to use straight away. The rest of the fruit go into the tastiest cakes and pies. Back to tea -she boils the peel with cinnamon and allspice and some dried green tea leaves ( from the bush). For this she likes to use spring water. Boiling for about 15 mins. This is then strained and poured into a warmed teapot when being served to guests – otherwise she places into a flask to keep with her throughout her day.  The rule with this is, if you want a drink of her tea you sit and chat while you do, having her cakes to hand also help with this. In todays world she says you have to stop for something, why not tea?? Why not indeed.

How to throw an afternoon tea party  - http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-throw-afternoon-tea-party
Afternoon Tea

 

Turkish tea

Merhaba! I’m writing on location here in Turkey, visiting a friend in Istanbul and I have to say this city is tea central, probably one of the best places on earth to experience tea-drinking in all its glory. I can’t figure out what the preferred drink is here: coffee or tea, since they are both synonymous with this country. However, my blog is about tea so I’ll focus on that, indeed I feel that tea or ‘cay’ (chai) as they call it, is more interlinked with the daily rituals of most people and you see it everywhere on the streets here, around almost every corner you can see old men drinking at tea houses, vendors wheeling around steaming samovars around the streets, students gossiping with a cigarette and a cay outside downtown cafes and boys carrying hanging trays of it around bustling markets and streets.

Turkish tea by the BosphorusTea is served served in tulip-shaped glasses unless you ask for a larger ‘fincan’, a glass mug with a handle. Many restaurants offer complimentary cay at the end of a meal and if you visit someone’s house you will be plied with it and, true to the world famous Turkish hospitality, your glass will be refilled as soon as you finish your drink. I hope you like this full-flavoured tea because if you are visiting locals houses you should probably drink it out of politeness, it’s such a way of life that if you decline a glass the response may be surprise or bemusement. Whatever you do, don’t add milk to the tea, it just doesn’t suit the flavour and people will find it very odd! If the drink is too strong, you can add more water to dilute it and add lots of sugar. I saw a an old shopkeeper add a mind-blowing six cubes of sugar to his little glass of tea, what teeth he had left looked pretty black and I expected a tidal wave of tea to flow out of the glass.

You can also find the famous apple tea here, but I was surprised to find it’s not common for locals to drink it – apple tea is mostly found in tourist areas (especially at the ubiquitous carpet shops) or shisha bars. I’ve really enjoyed having a cay by the beautiful Bosphorus and recommend it to all tea lovers.

Chinese Tea

 

Drinking Chinese Tea at its best

The chinese have been drinking tea over 4,000 years. at first it was as a herbal medicine then  in the Tang Dynasty ( 618–907 AD) tea shops became popular and tea drinking spread from the elite classes to the everyday folk. Japan got their tea from China in this period taken by a Japanese monk. Later in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) many innovations re tea production and drinking came into being; further tea trade developed and the Japanese tea ceremony came into being via Zen masters. It is also in this time that it was sold to the Arabic nations. In the Ming Dynasty it went to S.E Asia and Southern Africa, then in 1610 it went to Europe, tea became international.

Tips for purchasing  Chinese tea:

Aroma – make sure the smell is aromatic and fresh, the better teas should smell of jasmine or orchids with no acid or burnt smell. Old tea smells stale.

Look at it – The leaves should be dry enough to rustle in you palm and be tight with a good lustre, poor tea is dull and loose.

Taste –  Chew the leaves, good tea is mellow and gently. Infuse some leaves and see that open and sink slowly to the bottom. The colour should be emerald green or golden and  be slightly bitter with a sweet aftertaste.

Infuse – the leaves should be even.

Tea once bought should be kept in airtight containers, don’t keep different flavours together and avoid placing them in the sun.

 

The variety of chinese tea that you can expect to find
Chinese Tea

How to drink tea across the globe

tea in the UK is serious business

Naturally, drinking tea itself has become an art that is most certainly unique to each country and region. It can also be a very sensitive subject that your cafe waiter or household might take quite seriously. If you’re crossing Europe, not only will you find those countries keen on adding milk to their tea, such as my native Britain, next to a good portion of continental Europe which insists on just sugar, but even styles of serving and the number of accessories that come with.

Another cool tea blog!

I am myself a huge fan of the accompanying cookie or pastry that comes with the finer tea selections. This is usually in the nicer cafes in cities, but you never know what you’ll come across, be it scaling the seaside or wandering through vineyards. One common rule of thumb i’ve found, just to keep your heads up, is that waiters are not usually keen on refilling your cup with hot water with an old tea bag. Once, I got into a long discussion with a waiter who seemed to think some people couldn’t handle the taste of a reused tea bag. Perhaps I’m not refined enough for that, but what can I say, I like to economize my tea usage. Especially since I know they are good for at least one or two refills.

Concerning my native UK, there are a few taboos that one must watch out for. First, of course, tea always comes with milk. Crumpets as well, if you’re lucky. Tea time is a valued and important time of day as well, so when that becomes a priority in certain households, don’t be surprised. Furthermore, watch out for what you call your tea. If you’re into black teas, you should most certainly be careful. There’s English breakfast, Scottish breakfast and even Irish breakfast. In all honesty, the variance is slight, but what can you do. However, I’ve seen it myself, waiters can give ugly looks that will stain your experience if you aren’t sensitive to the local names. If you’re in Edinburgh, it’s Scottish breakfast, simply put!

Teas in the East

picking tea leaves is back breaking work

Now that we’ve got beyond the taboos of British tea pretension, we can humor some of the rest of the world. Crossing Europe, you find a very elegant tea culture. High ceiling cafes with marble tables and perhaps a man in a tux playing the piano. I have to say, it most certainly brings you back to the old days. You might feel bad not wearing a black tie and suit, but that’s all I can warn you of.

In Europe, however, you can find quite the eclectic tea selection. Such as herbal teas, some that people make themselves, or mixes of all sorts. I had the lucky chance to go work briefly with a mountain herbal tea farmer in the alps who planted, grew, picked and dried his own supply and would sell them at local markets. He would even dry fruits and add them to his tea combinations. All offering different tastes and properties, he definitely makes sure you know the properties and what you’re getting into. I’ve never again had such a pleasant backdrop while scavenging the mountainside for specific flowers and plants.

Moving beyond Europe, you reach Turkey and then the area of the fertile crescent which reaches into eastern Turkey, Iran and other countries in the Middle East. This region produces some stronger, black teas, but all with distinct and attractive tastes. FYI, it’s usually called Cay (chai) in whatever country or language you’re dealing with. It’s also served in small tulip glasses and served with sugar and a smaller saucer under the glass cup. It’s usually very simple and waiters from all directions seem to throw them at you, landing in perfect place, as they move on to the next willing candidate. Mind you, some folks sit and drink this tea all day long, whether in the spirit of conversation or playing games such as backgammon. I suggest you try it sometime!