Benefits of Tea
Posted April 23, 2012on:
We are a nation of tea lovers and drinkers here in England and all around the world, consuming gallons of different types of tea on a daily basis. We have black tea, white tea, Redbush/rooibos tea and huge selection of herbal teas. I’m going to pick a selection of the common teas we drink and look into what benefits, if any, we get from them. I will also look into how the different types of teas are made.
I used to believe that the different types of tea were made from different plants, apparently they are not. They are made from the same plant of the Camellia genus, scientific name is Carmellia Sinensis, which originated in China, Tibet and Northern India. The tea plant has thick leaves, is dark green in colour and has a strong thick stem. There are about 200 different species of the tea plant around the world.
The tea leaves when picked are made up of 80% liquid; while what we eventually buy from the stores have less than 10% liquids. This is because the leaves are dried as part of the production process which is necessary for strengthening and preserving the tea leaf.
This is the most common of all teas drunk in England and around the world. The tea is produced by firstly drying the leaves by blowing currents of warm air over them. The leaves are then rolled to remove the liquids which will allow the process of fermentation and oxidation to begin. During the fermentation process, enzymes within the leaves bind to oxygen in the air which discolours the leaves and turns them black, this apparently is what creates the typical black tea flavour. Finally, the leaves are dried further to stop the oxidation process.
There has been some research done into the health benefits of black tea which is not conclusive. There are some suggestions that drinking black tea can help wipe out viruses in your mouth, and also prevent diarrhoea, pneumonia, cystitis and skin infections (research done by Milton Schiffenbauer of Pace University), amongst others.
Scientists insist though that more research has to be done on both animals and humans to help broaden and solidify these claims. I stopped drinking black tea years ago due to its caffeine content and didn’t think I was getting much benefit from it.
Green tea in recent years has now become a very popular beverage because of the health benefits associated with it. This is one of my favourites but I tend not to drink too much of it because of its high caffeine content (although you can now get light green tea which has a lower caffeine content).
The production process of green tea is different from black tea. The leaves are sun-dried on bamboo trays for a few hours, after which they are stir-fried in hot roasting pans in order to get rid of additional moisture. The leaves are then rolled manually and put back into the pans to dry them further.
The production of green tea does not include the fermentation stage. The leaves retain their original green colour without the oxidation which happens during the fermentation stage.
Green tea leaves contain EGCG which helps the body fight cancer cells and does not allow them get into the body. Other benefits include helping to burn calories, maintaining body heat, helps destroy bacteria which cause food poisoning – this is due to one of the ingredients in the leaves called catechine. It is also good for promoting healthy heart and improving the immune system – a lot of research has gone into understanding the benefits and effects of green tea.
Another favourite tea I have regularly is rooibos tea, also called redbush tea. The rooibos plant was discovered in the 17thcentury in South Africa by the local tribes in Cape Town. These
tribes used the entire rooibos plant to make refreshing, aromatic drinks with medicinal benefits.
When dried, the leaves turn a reddish-brown colour which is where the plant gets its name rooibos meaning “redbush”. The rooibos plant is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help with insomnia, headaches, mild depression, and indigestion. As rooibos tea is totally caffeine free, it also has soothing effects on the nervous system.
I have rooibos tea daily because of the fact that it has no caffeine and helps you sleep like a baby; the other benefits are a welcome bonus. For those who have not heard of rooibos tea and have not tried it out, I suggest giving it a try and let me know what you think by posting your comments below. You can have it like normal tea, adding your choice of milk and sweetener but I must say you would not need any type of sweetener as it has a slightly sweet taste.
Peace and fabulous health!