Bet you never wondered why a 'teaspoon' is called a teaspoon, or a why tiny little round candles are called 'tea lights', or what's so special about a 'tea towel'. So, today, while I prepared a pot of perfectly brewed Monkey Picked Oolong / Silver Needle blend tea and measured out 3 'teaspoons' of the leaves , the little 'tea light' went on in my brain. The 'tea-spoon' began as a measure for brewing a cup of tea!
With the popularity of coffee in this country, tea has been long over-looked. But it's making a comeback. Actually, tea has been recognized for its medicinal and taste benefits for centuries. It began as a beverage for emperors, and became a sought after commodity in Europe, enjoyed mainly by the aristocracy. As it became more available to the masses, it was still highly valued as a social centerpiece. Porcelain tea sets were so important to British families, the mistress of the house would dry them herself with a special linen cloth--her 'tea towel'.
I've wanted to cut back on the caffeine and coffee, and found that teas are varied and flavorful, and I've come to prefer tea over coffee. I am most intrigued by the health benefits of tea, and it's great to think that I'm actually enjoying something that's good for me!
If you are interested, here are some general qualities of the four main types of tea:
White -- the least processed tea, very high in antioxidants (studies show that antioxidants in white teas help to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly lung, colon, and skin cancer, and also strengthen your immune system and help with metabolism), very low in caffeine; excellent for hydration of the body and the skin, which acts naturally to reduce the signs of aging (fine lines and wrinkles); aids in detoxifying your body. A cup of white tea only has about 1% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.
Green -- very high in antioxidants that boost the immune system and may help to reduce the risk of cancer (polyphenols), particularly lung, colon and skin cancers, helps to regulate your blood sugar, resist cavities and gingivitis, and it is good for your skin. Green tea also contains EGCG complex, which is very good for metabolism.
Oolong -- help to lower the intake of fat content from high-cholesterol meals and increase metabolism (this is why it is known as "diet tea"). The tannic acid in Oolong teas also helps to lower cholesterol levels. Good for the skin as well. Typically a very relaxing drink, although it does have a slight amount of caffeine.
Black -- Medical research suggests that black teas assist in lowering cholesterol, preventing the absorption of cholesterol into the blood, gently stimulating the heart and circulatory system, keeping blood vessels soft, regulating blood sugar, and lowering blood pressure. It can help prevent heart disease and strokes. Contains 20% of the caffeine in coffee.
And, all tea includes fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the formation of plaque.
Good tea doesn't come in bags from the grocery store, but from a good tea store which sells loose leaf teas, which are higher quality and fresher. They can tell you how to brew each specific tea, too.