What TEA is all about...

Detoxifying.., calming.., relaxing.., cleansing.., refreshing.., anti-aging or sometimes simply put as a healthy indulgence! We heard and see these enormous taglines on the benefits of Tea. There is now an undoubtedly growing trend on this “amazing” plant product. Some known benefits of tea include: preventing cancer, controlling high blood pressure, restricting increase of blood cholesterol, lowering blood sugar levels, slowing the aging process and deterring dental cavities. All of these we were informed through massive marketing campaigns. But do we know where it came from and how it was produced before it finally reached our teapots or teacups?

Tea comes in many forms. Generally, it is classified based on the process used in producing it. It can either be Non-fermented, Fermented (which is further segmented into semi or fully) or Infused. The types of teas available per category are the following:

Non-Fermented: Green Tea
Semi Fermented: White Tea, Yellow Tea and Oolong Tea
Fully fermented: Black Tea and Pu-erh Tea
Infused: Herbal Teas and Fruit Tisanes i.e. dried flowers, leaves, seeds and roots (e.g. camomile, chrysanthemum, jasmine, pitopito, ampalaya etc.)

From which category does your favorite tea fall? Green Tea, the most popular among all teas is a non-fermented type. It is made from the sweetest, newest buds and tips of the plant. That’s where it owes its fresh taste with light vegetable note. The plant source of Green Tea is the same as that of Black Tea. Only, the fermentation process is prevented by heat treatment to keep the plant enzymes from turning the leaf’s color into black. In contrast, the White Tea comes from the smallest, youngest buds that are delicately handpicked. This explains why it is the most expensive tea. It has a very subtle taste and gentle aroma. Oolong is classified as semi-fermented because it is only the leaf’s outer edge that is fermented while the greater part is left unfermented. The Herbal Teas on the other hand, are produced via infusion.They are normally made by pouring boiling water over the plant parts such as dried flowers, leaves, seeds or roots and allowing them to steep for a few minutes. These are commonly taken as medicines or refreshments.

Beyond pleasing our senses and palate, what are the essential substances in tea that makes us patronize it even more? Tea contains a variety of nutritional elements like vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and caffeine. It is perhaps the “polyphenols” that will be of significant interest. Polyphenols contain flavonoids that are known to have some antioxidant properties. The teas that have higher concentrations of antioxidants (specifically in the form of catechins /EGCG - Epigallocatechin gallate) are Green Tea and White Tea. The reason being is that these two types of tea underwent very minimal process of fermentation or none at all. On the Herbal Infusions, specific benefits can likewise be derived. For instance, the effectiveness of Ampalaya (Momordica Charantia) in the treatment of diabetes, Ginseng’s ability to reduce stress and its efficacy as an anti-aging supplement or Camomile’s power to boost the immune system and help relieve a wide range of health ailments including colds are worth noting as well.

So which one frequents your cup? Is it the TEA that warm you when you are cold? Is it the TEA that cools you when you are heated? Is it the TEA that calms you when you are depressed? Is it the TEA that rejuvinates you when you are stressed? or Is it simply the TEA that will do all the works? Whichever one it is, what's important is you also enjoy what's inside your cup.


Thistlemoon said…
Very wonderful article! This looks like a very interesting blog! I worked with a nutritionist for 5 years and really learned a lot about foods and how we eat can affect so much about our health and overall well-being! Now you need to write an article on the evils of Splenda!

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!
Sherra said…
Hi Jenn,

Thanks for that inspiring comment. I'll try to work on that "splenda" suggestion.

Cheers! :-)

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