Time to Tea Up

Hold in your mind as you sip your next cup of tea, that this often simple liquid’s journey began thousands of years ago. It humbly, aromatically, warmly sits in your cup infusing you with its sometimes mystical properties. Legend says this journey began in China in the year 2737 when an Emperor stopped to rest on a long journey. His servants were boiling some water and leaves from a wild tea bush fell into the water; the curious Emperor drank this new found beverage and found it not only pleasing but invigorating.

In the 1600s tea made its way to the American colonies. Tea remained a very popular beverage despite the “Tea Party” held in Boston. The race between tea and coffee is on going and will most likely remain so.

Each few years one ratchets itself up past the other in consumption. Once again we find ourselves at a time when tea, truly good tea is being sought out by many Americans. So, how to choose a great tea? You should note that I did not say “blend” as there are only 4 types of tea. There is black, green, white and oolong. The flavors you might get in the local store such as citrus etc. are simply that. They are flavors added to the tea – but all begin with one of the four teas I mentioned above.

When you choose a tea, you must understand your needs and why you want the tea. Each has properties unique unto themselves.  Don’t forget that tea can be a wonderful and surprising addition to your marinades too.

Black tea has been used throughout history for medical purposes, long before it became a breakfast tea. It helps relieve diarrhea, lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent tooth decay. The tea has a therapeutic effect on gastric and intestinal illnesses because of its tannins, which decrease intestinal activity and exerts an anti-diarrheal effect. To get the maximum benefit for diarrhea, let the tea steep for a full 15 minutes. This releases a good amount of tannins, also drink it unsweetened.

Green tea possesses numerous compounds that have antioxidant and health-enhancing properties. One of the main compounds is the bioflavonoid catechin. Catechin works both alone and in conjunction with other flavonoids found in the tea and has both defense-supporting and free radical-scavenging properties. Recently, numerous scientific research studies have been published supporting the intake of green tea. Several of these studies conclude that green tea has heart-health benefits. Other studies show promise balancing overall health. Although these studies need additional supporting research to confirm their conclusions, it is clear that modern science is starting to prove what traditional Chinese health practitioners have known all along: green tea enhances our body and mind in many, many ways.

White tea is high in antioxidants, aids in detoxifying the body, studies show white tea is excellent for skin/complexion reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Oolong tea Studies show that drinking Oolong during or after a high-cholesterol meal has been shown to lower the intake of fat content in the blood. Promotes healthy teeth, skin and bones.

The more I find out, the more I understand that tea is more than a beverage, it is a healing herb that also passes as a beverage.  Another tip – grind Oolong tea and add to your black pepper and use for a rub on steak.  It adds some amazing flavor.
Well, I think it’s time to go brew a cup of tea and this moment calls for green as there is much to be done today and I will need a clear mind.

About Larry Smoot

I am a writer and foodie who recently moved to Montreal.
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