“Coffee or tea?” asks the waiter. “Tea,” I reply without hesitation, “definitely tea.” I’ve always been a tea person. There’s no question about it. Coffee just doesn’t cut it for me – it’s too bold, too brash, too harsh, even. It doesn’t have that soothing aroma and lightly scented taste, or that cooling and slightly astringent flavour that tea does. And somehow it doesn’t seem as relaxing or calming as tea can be when enjoyed. Coffee usually goes for a quick morning caffeine fix which is quickly followed by a rush, a blur of events that make up a busy day that is soon gone. But tea, ahhh, tea, is one to be slowly sipped at a leisurely pace, pinky off the cup, beside the tranquil waters of the pool during late afternoons or while basking in the soft, early morning sunlight on the patio, usually accompanied by a good book and a good mood.
In fact, tea is the second most widely consumed beverage worldwide, second only to water. Commonly prepared by pouring boiling water over leaves of the tea plant, Camillia sinensis, this aromatic beverage is only considered to be the real deal when it is one of the four main varieties: Black, green, white and oolong. Other things like herbal ‘teas’ are often an infusion of a different plant and is not technically considered tea.
Tea is also widely thought to signify good health, happiness and wisdom, especially in the East, and is usually accompanied by just sugar or the occasional serving of milk or even simply taken alone which makes it a healthy choice in itself. Unpretentious and humble by nature, it’s not hard to see why tea is loved by people of all ages, races and walks of life.
Yes, like so many others, I really do love my tea. And what makes me love my tea even more is that the wondrous drink is chock-full of health benefits, be it antioxidants or flavonoids which have been well established to be good for the heart and for cancer prevention. Most teas also carry caffeine and theanine, which are chemicals that stimulate the brain to heighten mental alertness and overall concentration. Depending on its type or origin, the many benefits of tea can vary, but one thing is for sure – any tea, is good tea.
Perhaps one of the most popular types of tea enjoyed by the masses all over the world, black tea is made from fermented tea leaves which give it that full-bodied flavour and rich colour. It also contains the most caffeine out of all tea types.
Research has found that black tea can help to counteract the damage done by smoking as well as lower the risk of strokes.
Unlike black tea, green tea is made from steaming tea leaves. As compared to black tea, it typically has a lighter taste, consistency and flavour and, and is usually appreciated for its strong floral fragrance.
Green tea has been said to be the most beneficial of the lot. From improving mineral density and strength to protecting our skin from UV rays, green tea is rich in antioxidants that are known to prevent various cancers: bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal. They are also good for preventing arteries from clogging and burning fat. Also to note would be their ability to counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, lower the risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
White tea is a type of pure tea that is neither fermented nor cured. A study has shown that white tea carries the most potent anti-cancer properties as compared to other teas that have been processed.
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea that is made from leaves that have been withered under the strong sun and that have been oxidised. The leaves generally take on curly, twisted shapes as a result of this process.
Oolong tea is best known for its weight-loss properties. It has also been said to combat skin aging, prevent heart disease, relieve stress and reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Other benefits of tea
– Hydrates better than water
-Reduced risk of heart attacks
-Antioxidants help to prevent cancer – breast, stomach, -colorectal, lung, liver, prostate and more
-Helps fight free radicals that can potentially damage our -DNA in our body
-Lowers risk of Parkinson’s disease
-Green tea improves mineral density and strength
These studies on tea, however, are not definitive. Even though tea is generally safe for consumption and largely good for health, it should not be treated as a miracle cure nor taken excessively. As they always say, eating all foods in moderation is the key to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.