What is the most popular drink of all? That’s easy — water. But the second most popular drink is none other than tea, beating out over hundreds of other beverages in the popularity department. This comes as no surprise, as tea has been around for thousands of years, originating from China and subsequently spreading across the world. The oldest proof of tea’s existence reaches as far back as 141 B.C., the estimated death of Emperor Liu Qi. This means that people have been enjoying the benefits of tea even long before it reached the West.
When people say “tea,” they usually refer to the infusion of different herbs, berries, fruits and spices. However, being able to differentiate between real tea and herbal tea is also important (although the term “tea” is now loosely used).
Real tea refers to the infusion of the Camelia sinensis plant, with the varieties differing depending on the drying method used on its leaves. Meanwhile, herbal teas are infusions of other herbs and spices that may also be ingested for health benefits. In some cases, herbal teas are called tisanes or herb teas.
Benefits You Can Get From Drinking Tea
Tea is filled with antioxidants, flavanols, flavonoids and other compounds that are essential for maintaining good health. Drinking tea may help metabolize fat, reducing your risk for obesity, and lower your risk of heart attacks, strokes and glaucoma due to its high epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) content. Some of the other benefits you can get from drinking tea include:
- Provides an immune system boost
- Soothes the digestive system
- Reduces blood pressure
- Lowers your risk for breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers
The Difference Between Green, White, Black and Other Teas
Whether the tea you’re drinking is categorized as black, white, green, oolong or pu-erh, they all come from the Camelia sinensis plant. The only difference is how the leaves are dried and prepared. To make the distinction clearer, here are the descriptions of the process the tea leaves undergo:
- Black tea: The leaves from the Camelia sinensis plant are harvested and laid out to dry for eight to 24 hours. They are then allowed to oxidize through rolling. The surfaces of the leaves are cracked, allowing the enzymes to react with oxygen. This type of tea undergoes complete oxidation.
- White tea: White tea is derived from the first flush of the Camelia sinensis plant. The leaves are immediately fired or steamed after air-drying to avoid oxidation. White tea is the hardest to find because of its limited production and high cost.
- Oolong tea: Oolong leaves are shaken in baskets right after air-drying to bruise the leaves. They are then fired in hot woks to achieve a crisp texture.
- Green tea: Green tea does not undergo oxidation. To ensure that the enzymes do not interact with oxygen, the leaves are steamed and pan-fried right after drying.
- Pu’erh tea: Pu’erh tea is fermented for decades before it can be brewed. It is one of the best quality teas available in the market.
Some Teas Contain Caffeine
Caffeine-sensitive people should know that real tea contains specific amounts of caffeine, with black tea having the highest amount at 50 milligrams per serving. While caffeine can provide you with an energy boost and heightened alertness, it can induce anxiety, aggravate insomnia and cause heart palpitations when taken in excess. Constant and increasing amounts of caffeine may also lead to physical and psychological dependence.
On the other hand, most herbal teas contain little to no caffeine, which makes them a good choice for people who are sensitive to caffeine or are trying to watch their caffeine intake.
Brew Yourself a Cup of Tea and Start Reading These Tea Articles
A delicious and hearty cup of tea brings warmth and comfort, which is why it’s no surprise that many people today have made this an important part of their healthy lifestyle. But before you choose a type of tea to add to your regimen, it’s best that you learn more about the different kinds available today.
Read these articles to learn more about the different types of tea, their caffeine content and their different nutritional components that you can benefit from.