Tea is making a huge comeback in popularity and for good reason. It’s versatile, delicious, and is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Here are seven things you need to know about your brew.
Tea is making a huge comeback in popularity and for good reason. It’s versatile, delicious, and is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Here are seven things you need to know about your brew, from how to choose the best cup, to potential issues with your brew.
Green tea and black tea are made from the same plant leaves, but black tea has been withered, and the water within the leaves evaporates allowing the leaf to absorb more oxygen from the air (oxidation). The color of black tea comes from this full oxidation and yields a hearty and more pronounced flavor as well as higher caffeine content than other teas. This processing also renders it chemically different from green tea. For one thing, black tea has way more caffeine than green tea making it a great morning wake-up call.
Thick mug versus a thin tea cup? The answer might surprise you. According to Mark Miodownik in his Stuff Matters book, when tea first made its way from China to England, it was accompanied by very fine porcelain, which didn't bleed the heat away so quickly. A thick mug might feel nice in your hands, but the thinner the cup, the longer the tea will stay hot. The take away here? If it's a very thick cup, a ceramic cup, you're going to cool down the tea very fast.
Know your brew time and temperature. All teas have a specific brew time and temperature. This is usually on the label. Brewing for too long will release to many of the tea's tannins, (the same substance found in wine, chocolate and berries that is bitter and astringent). However, too short a brew won't allow the caffeine and flavors to fully infuse the water. Temperature is also just as important as you don’t want to burn the tea.
Tannins the good and the bad. The astringent flavor characteristic of tea is due to the presence of antioxidant tannins. Tannins in tea have an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and an antiparasitic effect, so they are great for promoting health. On the flip side one of the issues associated with tannins is that they bind with iron in the intestinal tract making it less readily absorbed - it’s recommended to drink green tea between meals to avoid interfering with iron absorption. Adding lemon (which contains vitamin C, aiding in iron absorption) can help offset some of the effects. It is important to note that tannins only reduce the bioavailability of plant sources of iron and have no affect on animal sources.
Tea has many health promoting properties and an increasing number of studies show that the benefits of drinking tea are numerous. Besides being a refreshing drink with zero calories, tea is a good source of minerals including: manganese (essential for physical development) and potassium (maintains body’s fluid balance, and it’s an electrolyte). Tea is also packed with flavonoids, antioxidants that help combat free radicals combating the stress in our body. Studies also show that tea drinkers are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers.
The already famous flavanoids also demonstrate their ability in the prevention of oxidation of “bad” cholesterol as well as protecting the blood vessels from inflammation and inhibiting blood clotting. Black tea is also a natural source of fluoride, which can help strengthen tooth enamel and help cut down plaque on teeth.
Tea does not have more caffeine than coffee; it contains about half the amount, but if sensitive to caffeine choose teas lower in caffeine like white tea.