Whatever may be the type, tea lovers swear by it that a day would be incomplete without sipping tea and having at least one cup of tea. According to research, 2 million people drink tea every morning all over the world. And, around 1.23 million people consume tea in a single day in America. (Source: 19 Shocking Tea Consumption Statistics, Brandon Gaille, Retrieved 1 January 2024)
So, is this popular beverage only favoured for its taste, or are there any benefits of tea leaves? In reality, there is a range of tea benefits, which is one of the reasons for its huge success worldwide. In this article, we will try answering the below questions:
- What is Tea?
- What is the origin and history of Tea?
- How tea is brewed?
- What are the different types of Tea?
- What are the health benefits of drinking tea?
- Is it good to drink tea every day?
- How much Tea should I drink every day?
- Which tea is the healthiest?
- What are the benefits of tea with milk?
Everyone around the world loves sipping tea. Be it a cup of Earl Grey or Darjeeling tea; consumers love sipping tea with equal love. But it's is not just another beverage loved for its rich and warm taste but it has numerous health benefits.
What is Tea?
Tea is the second most-consumed drink in the entire world, water being the first. It is produced from a plant. The scientific name of the tea plant is Camellia Sinensis, one of the camellia flowers. (Reference: What is Tea?, Tea Class, Retrieved on 1 January 2024) This tea plant is an evergreen shrub that is mainly native to the Eastern part of Asia, though it is now cultivated across the world -Cornwall (England), Perthshire (Scotland), Washington (United States of America), Vancouver Islands (Canada), and in farther away places like islands of Tasmania in Australia and Waikato (New Zealand).
There are two main variants of tea that are cultivated. Both of these belong to the family of Camellia Sinensis.
- the Sinensis: The Sinensis variant is used in most Japanese, Formosan, and Chinese tea.
- the Assamica: the Assamica variant plays (Assam Tea) its part in the Pu-erh and most of the Indian tea, except Darjeeling.
Based on the size of the leaves, tea is classified into various types.
- The Assam tea leaves are the biggest in size.
- Chinese tea consists of smaller leaves.
There are also various sub-categories and hybrid strains of the tea leaves - the Darjeeling and the Cambodian ones being the most popular ones. (Reference: Tea, Wikipedia, Retrieved on 1 January 2024)
What is the origin and history of Tea?
Tea has its origins in China, where it was consumed for the first time around 500 years back. There is a legend that one day, some kind of wild leaves blew into a pot of boiling water in the Chinese emperor - Shen Nung's court. The Chinese emperor was so intrigued by the smell of the brewed liquid that he tasted some of it. Immediately, he fell in love with this new drink and he named it "cha." This black tea was the predecessor of the various modern types of tea, as we know them today. From then on, as trade and commerce began to grow between countries, tea was introduced to new places. America had its first taste of tea leaves when a Dutch East India Company brought it from China to Amsterdam in the 17th century. Since then, it has become a significant part of American culture. Even today, tea parties are a major stress-buster in American culture. (Source: The History of Tea, Coffee Tea Warehouse, Retrieved 1 January 2024)
How Tea is brewed?
Now that we have talked briefly about the history of tea, let us know how to brew it. Here are the steps you need to follow -
- Put the necessary amount of water to boil in a kettle. Remember to filter water if it has high levels of chlorine. The water plays a major role in the overall taste of the beverage, and such chemicals are bound to add an unwanted taste to it.
- Let the water come to its boiling point. You can check it by seeing if its bubbling or not. Remember, different types of tea leaves need different temperatures to ooze its flavour. Don’t over-boil your water as it may burn the tea leaves, and that way, they will lose their taste.
- Put 1 or 2 tablespoons of tea leaves in the teapot and pour the boiled water directly to the leaves. After pouring the water, close the lid and let the tea leaves steep for some time. The standard steeping time is 3 to 4 minutes, as it takes more time for the tea to taste than the colour. But, different types of tea leaves have different steeping times. For example, oolong tea will take around 2 to 3 minutes while the black tea needs to be brewed for 3 to 5 minutes.
- After the tea has brewed perfectly, you can pour it into the cup using a strainer. You can add various enhancements like lemon juice, sugar, milk, etc. based on your likings.
You can also brew ice tea using the same method with some minor modifications -
- Take a glass and put some tea leaves in it.
- Pour the hot water till the half of the glass and let it brew for the required time.
- Fill the remaining half of the glass with cold water.
- Put some ice cubes in a cup and pour the tea from the glass using a strainer.
- Add enhancements based on your preferences.
Here are a few tips to brew a perfect cup for sipping tea in a wonderful way:
- Make sure to use the proper steeping time. Over-steeping will make the tea taste bitter while under-steeped tea will taste bland and watery.
- Use the proper amount of tea leaves to get the lighter or strong taste of the tea.
- Some variety of tea requires 2 or 3 steepings to bring out the flavor. So, depending on the leaves, choose whether it will require single steeping or multiple steeping. (Reference: How To Brew Tea, Stash Tea, Retrieved on 1 January 2024)
What are the Different Types of Tea?
Tea can be mainly classified into two broad categories -
- Tea made from Camellia Sinensis: The original and the purest form of tea comes from the plant of Camellia Sinensis, which has various subvarieties based on its processing. The six major varieties of tea are as follows. All these six types come from the same plant and are differentiated based on the processing and duration of oxidization.
- Herbal tea or tisanes: Although these types of tea don’t come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, people drink it in the form of tea and due to this practice, they collectively form the category called 'herbal tea' or 'tisanes.' There are more than fifty types of Herbal teas however, some of the major types of herbal tea are as follows. (Reference: The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Tea and Their Benefits, Pique Tea, Retrieved on 1 January 2024).
What are the health benefits of Tea?
The second most-consumed drink all over the world is not only liked for its taste but also due to its positive impact on the life of an individual. Now that we know about the history, types, brewing process of tea, let us know about the benefits of tea leaves. Here are the 10 ways, we can get the benefits of tea leaves for our health. (Reference: 13 Reasons Tea Is Good for You, Time - Health Land, Retrieved on 1 January 2024).
- Drinking tea reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and degenerative diseases.
- The catechins(antioxidants) present in the extract of green tea helps burn body fat. This, in turn, improves muscle endurance.
- The antioxidants present in the tea benefits our bodies by keeping the cancer cells at bay. This helps protect our body from skin, colon, lung, intestinal and other forms of cancer.
- Tea benefits our bodies by helping in the fight against free radicals. Though our bodies are naturally capable of fighting the free radicals, they aren't entirely effective. Tea acts as an added boost in the fight.
- Sipping tea keeps our bodies hydrated.
- Tea protects us against the ultraviolet rays. Green tea is found to be capable of preventing the U.V rays from harming our bodies.
- Sipping tea every day might help us fight diseases like diabetes, artery problems, etc.
- It has been found that sipping tea frequently might also help curb the harmful effects of smoking. This, in turn, helps in the prevention of lung cancer. However, it doesn't mean that one can keep smoking just because they have tea regularly.
- Tea might play a significant role in the fight against various neurological disorders like Alzheimer's, etc. The polyphenols present in green tea accurately help the brain function. It helps in the maintenance of the parts of the brain regulating the processes of memory and learning.
- Green tea is capable of improving the condition of bones by increasing strength and mineral density.
Frequently Asked Questions related to Tea
Q. Is it good to drink tea every day?
A. It has been found that moderate intake of up to 3-4 cups (710–950 ml) of tea a day is fine however more may lead to side effects like anxiety, headaches, digestive issues, and disrupted sleep patterns.
Q. How much tea should I drink every day?
A. Moderate intake of up to 3-4 cups (710–950 ml) of tea a day is considered fine.
Q. Which tea is the healthiest?
A. If we consider the concentration of antioxidants to be a sign of a tea being healthy, then White tea has the highest concentration. In terms of antioxidants, white tea is followed by jasmine tea, green tea, then black tea.
Q. What are the benefits of tea with milk?
A. According to a recent study, sipping tea with milk makes tea acidic. Tea is a rich source of antioxidants but once you add milk to it the effects are greatly reduced. Moreover, sipping tea milk makes the tea more acidic and inflammatory to the body.
It is now evident that tea is not only loved for its taste and mind-soothing effect but also due to various benefits of tea leaves on the human body. So, it deserves all the love and recognition in the purest form, and probably that's why it has earned the rightful place of being the second most-consumed drink. Nutritionists and medical practitioners all over the world recommend consuming at least 1 cup of tea daily to witness this world-famous drink's magical prowess.
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