Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Green, black, or oolong, they all come from the same species of plant- Camellia sinensis. The difference is in the processing. Green tea is unfermented, so the least processed. It retains the most antioxidant polyphenols. One of these, a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate or ECGC, is thought to be responsible for most of the long list of health benefits attributed to green tea. And it's quite an impressive list.
Numerous studies have shown that those consuming green tea are at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, periodontal disease, osteoporosis, and a slew of cancers including prostate, ovarian, breast, kidney, leukemia and childhood brain tumors. The catechins in tea prevent cell mutation, inhibit the growth of blood vessels that tumors need to grow and metastasize, help eliminate carcinogens from the body, and trigger cancer cell suicide (apoptosis). A recent study even showed that green tea inhibits the influenza virus.
Oohlong tea has been partially fermented, and black tea has been fully fermented. Black tea contains the least antioxidants of the three. There have been fewer studies done on oohlong and black teas, but they show similar health benefits to green tea. Just keep in mind that to gain the benefits, tea consumption should be part of a healthy lifestyle. You can't live on fast food, avoid exercise, drink alcohol and smoke and expect tea to be a miracle cure.
While tea bags are convenient, loose leaf teas produce a higher quality cup of tea. Loose leaf teas contain whole leaves or large pieces of leaves. Tea bags contain tiny pieces of broken leaves whose oils have evaporated, so they have less flavor. If you want the convenience of tea bags, be sure to look for unbleached bags. To use loose leaf tea you need to place it in an infusor or strainer.
Use 1 tsp. of loose green tea or 1 bag to 8 oz. water. Heat the water to just below boiling to prevent a bitter taste. While it's generally recommended to steep green tea for 2-5 minutes, to get the most benefit from green tea, allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Black tea should be steeped for 3-5 min. using boiling water. Oolong tea is usually steeped 1-3 min.
Herbal teas, which are not actually tea, but are called tisanes, have their own health benefits. I'm working on a series of posts about them which you will see sometime in January. Herbal teas must steep much longer to get the full benefits; from 10 min. up to 1 hour.
I drink lots of herbal teas, but for years I was not able to acquire a taste for green tea. Knowing its amazing health benefits, I really wanted to. Alicia over at Vegan Epicurean gave me lots of encouragement as well as ideas to try such as adding pomegranate juice or lemon and ginger to it. That really helped. Thanks Alicia! I also recently discovered chai green tea. Chai tea traditionally contains milk, which I do not add. I only add a little honey or a dash of agave. The combination of spices- especially the cloves, got me hooked. It is my new favorite tea! The spices also contain health benefits. Cloves contain eugenol which is anti-inflammatory and may help prevent digestive tract cancers.
All true tea contains tannic acid, which blocks the absorption of iron. If this is a concern for you, do not drink tea for one hour before or after meals, or try adding lemon to the tea to help increase iron absorption.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am an affiliate for Mountain Rose Herbs, and they sent me this to review:
The Oregon Chai is an herbal blend that made me swoon with delight when I opened the bag and smelled it.
The Oolong Tea is a blend of green and black tea which also had a delightful, fresh fragrance.
They are both high quality loose leaf varieties which I prefer over tea bags. I adored the Oregon Chai, it was a perfect blend of spices. I am sorry to say that I am still not a fan of plain green or black teas, so I mixed the Oolong with the Oregon Chai and it was fabulous! I get the health benefits of the tea combined with those of the spices and the flavor is addictive. Both are certified Kosher and Organic. I will definitely order more of these when my free samples are used up. I am very satisfied with Mountain Rose Herbs products and with the way the company does business.
Finally, a shameless plug. If you still need a Christmas gift for someone, tea, an infuser or a teapot make nice gifts. If you order anything from Mountain Rose Herbs through a link on my page, I earn a small commission.
Have a great weekend everyone!