Tea is the most common drink consumed by people all over the world. The aromatic beverage is prepared in various ways using the leaves of a shrub called Camellia Sinensis. The shrub is grown mainly in East Asia. One can find innumerable tea estates along these regions both in the plains and in the hilly areas, especially where the weather is comparatively pleasant. Each tea garden has its unique taste and flavor serving as a trademark for its brands. The preparations of tea also vary in various regions and countries.
Multiple types of research have been conducted and are still being experimented on the effects of tea on our health. Analyses are ongoing on the different types of preparations of Tea and which are better for consumption.
Let me share certain key insights into the various preparations of tea and both the good and bad effects of tea.
“Tea does our fancy aid, Repress those vapors which the head invade, And keeps the palace of the soul serene” —- Edmund Waller
Black tea is prepared from fully oxidized tea leaves. After withering the tea leaves are rolled immediately to enhance the oxidation process. The oxidation process is regulated as per the desired taste and flavor with the color varying from black, dark brown to light brown.
The method – It is one of the simplest preparations of tea. You can either soak the leaves for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water or immerse the tea bags in boiling water. You can mix 1 or 2 cubes of sugar as per your taste and allowable sugar intake. It is consumed without milk.
Green tea is nowadays gaining prominence in many countries due to its refreshing and healing effects. Contrary to black tea, green tea leaves are not oxidized. After withering the tea leaves are quickly heated to prevent oxidation and retain their green color.
The method – The preparation is similar to black tea. You can either soak the leaves in boiling water or immerse the green tea bags in the boiling water. Ensure to be a little conscious in checking the time to soak as the taste may get a little tangy. You can mix 1 or 2 cubes of sugar depending on your taste and allowable sugar intake. It is consumed without milk.
Oolong tea is one of the favorite beverages in China. In China, it is known as “Wulong meaning black dragon. While black tea is fully oxidized and green tea is not oxidized, oolong tea somewhat stands between them. After withering the tea leaves are oxidized at levels ranging from 10 to 80 percent. The oxidization levels depend on the desired flavor. Oolong tea is known for its rich flavor and high aroma. The color of the leaves varies from light gold to deep brown and orange according to the oxidation levels.
The method – In China, oolong tea is prepared with a Yixing teapot or a Gaiwan. The method occupies a unique position among all the preparations of tea. The vessels are small and artistic and are been traditionally used by the Chinese for brewing oolong tea. The tea leaves need to be brewed within the vessels for a short period for preparing one cup.
The oolong tea can also be prepared similarly to black tea and green tea. Sugar and milk are not mixed with oolong tea for consumption.
White tea is made using only the newest tea leaves or buds called Pekoe covered with whitish hairs. The buds need to be harvested before they open up, withered for up to 72 hours, and then dried at very low temperatures to prevent oxidation, unlike other tea types. The tea buds are not rolled thus retaining the natural color and sweetness with a mild flavor and healthy compounds.
The method – Among the different preparations of tea, one must be careful while brewing white tea. Though the preparation method is similar to black tea and green tea yet the temperature of the boiling water needs to be monitored. Very hot water may ruin the flavor. Brewing time generally is longer for white tea leaves to extract the light flavor. White tea has the greatest advantages over all others and hence it is recommended not to mix sugar and milk onto it.
Milk Tea ideally does not fall under any category of tea but the name is widely popular across the world. Sugar and milk mixed with black tea is a delicious beverage for many, especially in India.
The method – It is very important that the water and milk must be boiled sufficiently hot to prepare milk tea. The tea leaves must be brewed strong in the water and milk mixture to bring out the rich flavor. Add sugar as per the taste and need. The method is one of the simplest preparations of tea.
Normally ginger tea is not a particular tea type. Yet the name is very popular, especially in cold climates. Ginger is crushed and mixed with hot tea and consumed for protection against cold and cough.
The method – Ginger can be mixed with both black tea and milk tea. It creates a pungent and spicy flavor that is quite pleasing to the taste buds.
We often confuse normal tea with herbal tea. Herbal tea is not derived from Camellia Sinensis. It’s actually an infusion of leaves, barks, roots, flowers, and seeds of different herbal plants.
The method – There is no special preparation needed for herbal tea. It can be prepared similarly to black tea or green tea.
The Benefits of Tea
It is wonderful to wake up in the morning and sit near the windows or on the lawn with a cup of hot tea enjoying the early lights of the day. It not only boosts the energy level but triggers several health benefits within our body. Let me highlight some of the good effects of consuming black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and white tea.
Prevention of heart ailments
Several kinds of research have proved that consuming either of the four varieties of tea has significantly reduced the risk of heart diseases. The anti-oxidant properties of tea protect the body against the harmful effects of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity.
Increase body endurance
The anti-microbial properties of tea increase the body’s immunity levels by enhancing the growth of good bacteria and reducing the growth of bad bacteria within our digestive system. Due to its ability to burn body fat, it strengthens our muscles and increases our tenacity to sustain stress and pressure.
Lowers risk of cancer
The powerful antioxidants present in tea reduces the risk of developing different types of cancer like stomach, breast, prostate, colon, intestine, liver, skin, lung, and even oral cancers. Well, tea is not a cure for cancers. Researches have proved that people who consume tea frequently are subject to lower risks.
Beneficial for neurological diseases
It is said that the catechin compounds (the polyphenols) in the tea protect the body against Alzheimer’s disease (a common neurological disease leading to dementia) and Parkinson’s disease (a common degenerative disease). It helps in improving and regulating brain functions.
Helps control Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is affecting millions of people in the world and has become a serious concern in the medical fraternity. The body becomes incapable to produce the right amount of insulin with elevated blood sugar levels which lead to diet control, tooth damage, etc. The compounds present in tea have been proved to control the blood sugar level and also increase the body’s power to produce insulin.
There are several other benefits of tea like prevention of tooth cavities and tooth decay, controls obesity, protection against ultraviolet rays and sun’s radiation effects, keeps our body hydrated, and improves bone density.
Words of Advise
Well although there are several benefits, it is advisable to avoid mixing milk with tea. Some researchers have proved that milk reduces the anti-oxidant properties of tea. Thus decreasing its capacity to prevent cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, etc.
Tea contains caffeine hence it is not recommended to drink in excess. Caffeine may lead to bloating, stomach disorders, and indigestion. Avoid being addictive as non-consumption may lead to irritation, headaches, and lethargy thus reducing the body’s immunity.
Are you confused? Don’t be, as the words of advice are to create awareness and not fear. Tea has a lot of benefits if consumed properly. So what are you worried about. Have a cup of tea and enjoy the aroma around you. Float into its rich flavor, enrich your taste buds and energize yourself in its magical world.
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