Green tea, black tea, blueberry ice wine tea – have you ever wondered about different types of tea, and their benefits?
Tea: a brief history
Humans have been drinking tea for many, many years – since around 1000 BC. It originated in China as a medicinal drink which was made by pouring boiling water over the tea plant, Camellia sinensis’s leaves. In time, we also developed herbal teas such as chamomile, which are made with an infusion of fruits or herbs and contain no actual tea leaves. For the purposes of an introduction to tea, we’ll concentrate solely on some basic teas derived from tea plants: green tea, black tea, white tea, and oolong tea.
Benefits of drinking tea:
All teas contain antioxidants known as flavonoids, and these flavonoids help prevent a variety of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, they will help control cholesterol level and weight. Be careful, however, because tea is one of the top tooth staining foods that we consume.
Types of tea made from the tea plant:
The following types of tea all come from the Camellia sinensis plant, but differ in the way they are processed post-harvest; some are oxidized (read: left in the air) for longer while others are immediately cooked for preservation. It should be noted that all teas have some caffeine content and is helpful for keeping you awake.
Green tea:This type of tea is made by steaming fresh tea leaves and then drying them, and contains a high amount of antioxidants, even compared to other teas. As it is a delicate tea, you should steep it with water that is around 80 degrees Celsius. If the water is too hot, it will destroy the flavors of the leaves and make the tea too bitter.
Black tea: Tea leaves are heavily fermented and oxidized, and contain the most caffeine out of all traditional teas. Water for this tea should be boiling, because many components of black tea leaves will not be brought out at under 90 degrees Celsius.
White tea: New leaves are withered slightly and then baked, this type of tea may be more expensive because less of it is made compared to other teas. White tea should be steeped in water from 65 to 70 degrees Celsius.
Oolong tea is first withered and then left to oxidize for a time (somewhere between the oxidizing time of green tea and black tea). Before making oolong tea, you should warm up your teapot (pour some hot water and swish it around for a bit, then dump it out) and use water between 80 to 100 degrees Celsius. The third brew is generally considered the most flavorful brew for Oolong tea.
There you have it, now you know the benefits and risks of drinking tea, how types of tea differ and how to prepare them for maximum flavor and enjoyment.