Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Exciting World of Tea!

Greetings wellness lovers!

Today I wanted to give the spotlight to my sister, Alyssa! She has been excitedly upgrading her website Alyssa's Cooking Adventures, for weeks! It looks great... she's definitely a graphic/web designer who knows what she is doing!

Alyssa is also passionate about all things nutrition + wellness. And today, she has put together a piece for you... all about tea! More specifically, she will highlight some of the benefits of tea, how various types of tea differ, and how to steep tea correctly. Additionally, she has linked to some of her favorite tea-related links + resources.
The Primula Teapot
The Exciting World of Tea!

By Alyssa Craft, August 14, 2012, Alyssa's Cooking Adventures 

"My tea obsession started in December of 2010 when my significant other gave me blooming tea, a glass teapot, and cute little tea cups for Christmas. (Everything is better when it's cute, right?) This blooming tea intrigued me because you put an ugly ball into hot water and it turns into a beautiful flower that flavors the water. It was like magic to me, and it tasted heavenly! Immediately I asked him where he found these treasures and I went to the website to check out what other goodies they had, and my tea obsession was born!

Blooming tea in glass teacups
What's the deal with tea anyways? 

In a nutshell, tea contains many beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which provide a number of benefits to the body. For example, a common antioxidant in green, oolong and black tea is called epigallocatechin gallate compound (ECCG) which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, inhibit abnormal formations of blood clots and can lower LDL cholesterol. This is just the tip of the tea iceberg.
Now, there is an actual art to getting the most out of your tea. For starters, it is nice to steep and drink tea in a clear teapot or tea cups. In addition to smelling the aroma, you can see the color of the tea. I also encourage you to try loose leaf tea if you normally use tea bags. Previously, I was not a fan of tea, as it all tasted sour to me. I was known to chug a mug of green tea or two because I heard it was 'good for you' but I never enjoyed it. It turns out that tea bags typically contain smaller tea leaves which gives them a quicker brew, but it lacks the flavor and fullness of larger tea leaves in loose leaf tea. Tea bags can also release more tannins, giving a harsher flavor to the tea.

Tea also is picky with its temperature and steeping time. If the water is too hot or it is steeped for too long, it has the potential to be very sour. There are tables online (or even tea apps for smart phones!) with the different steeping times and temperature for your perfect cup of tea.

Now onto the fun part: an overview of tea types (with benefits) and my personal favorites/recommendations if you're looking for something new to try! 

*Please note: I do not receive any type of compensation from recommending these teas. :)

 Green tea:
  •  is rich in antioxidants that inhibit the growth of cancer cells
  • can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • inhibits abnormal formations of blood clots (which is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes)
  • has 5-10% of the caffeine content as a cup of coffee
  • is often mixed with flowers or fruits to create different flavors
Personal favorites:
 Black Tea
  • is made from fermented leaves and forms the basis for many other teas (and lots of instant teas)
  • has a relatively high caffeine content
Personal favorites:
Earl Grey Creme Black from Teavana
Cacao Mint Black from Teavana (This was my 'starter' tea... it's great to make a tea latte with!)
Cha Yen Thai Tea from Teavana (Thai iced tea anyone?)
White Tea
  • is uncured and unfermented (It's the least processed.)
  • is light in color, and very delicate in flavor
  • has a relatively low caffeine content
Personal favorite:
Oolong Tea
  • has 15% caffeine of a cup of coffee
  • is fermented
  • is generally considered the "weight loss tea"
  • may aid with metabolism and digestion
  • is best when it's "monkey picked" (Buddhist monks trained monkeys to harvest the youngest leaves from the tops of the trees.)
Personal favorite:
 Herbal Infusions
  • are typically caffeine free
  • are an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamins
  • consist of herbs, flowers, and fruit
  • is made from a South African red brush
  • is caffeine free
  • supports digestion
  • may support immune system
Personal favorite:
Blueberry Bliss by Teavana (It's even better when mixed with Strawberry Lemonade Herbal.)
  • is considered the 'coffee lover's' favorite tea
  • is made from the leaves of a yerba mate plant
  • contains many vitamins and antioxidants
  • has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee
Personal favorites:
 Blooming Teas
  • bloom as they steep
  • are hand-tied by tea artists and include favor and scent
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of different types of teas, and maybe are even excited to try something new! If you are not fortunate to have access to brick-and-mortar stores selling quality teas, these companies/websites are excellent resources:

Personally, I did not know all of this about tea! I hope you learned as much as I did. :) Have an excellent day!

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