How Do You Drink Tea?

Tea, it's the second most consumed beverage in the world, beaten only by water. It has a place in almost every culture on earth, and has been drunk for what historical documents suggest to be over 5,000 years.

There are four main types of this beverage which are white tea, green tea, oolong tea (wu long tea or brown tea), and black tea. However, each type of tea comes from the same species of plant called Camellia sinensis, and it is the processing that the tea leaves go through which determine what type they will ultimately become.

Many studies show that there are a number of health benefits that can be obtained by drinking tea. This beverage has many goodies floating around it like antioxidants, catechins, and polyphenols which can shield our immune system, prevent certain tumor growth, and aid in a healthier heart. One study out of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, suggests that drinking green tea can help abate esophageal cancer, while another from Pace University reveal that drinking black tea can help destroy oral virus such as herpes, as well as prevent diarrhea, pneumonia, cystitis, and skin infections.

Having mentioned all that, the way we drink tea can strongly influence not only the health benefit aspects, but also another that goes unnoticed...the flavor benefits. Many folks drink tea simply because it taste great, and not just for benefits. I happen to be one of them!

There are two main methods of brewing tea, loose leaf style, and by tea bag. But only one method will give you ultimate tea flavor and benefits!

In America, just about 90 percent of folks brew their tea by tea bag and remain unaware of the true way tea is meant to be enjoyed. Even drinking white and green teas that are in iced tea form in bottles sold in stores does not provide the same taste and benefits. The reason is because tea bags consist of fannings (or tea dust) which happens to be the lowest grading of tea. All the natural oils and nutrients that give us that great flavor and health benefits are in little abundance in these dried up tea particles. And as for the chilled teas in bottles, well, they are loaded with sugar so noticing the subtle taste in the mix is hard.

Steeping tea using whole loose leaves brings out a whole new beverage loaded with more healthy benefits and much more flavor since these leaves still have most of their oils. I'll never forget my first cup of loose leaf, and till this day I have enjoyed over 100 varieties, with hundreds more to explore. Trust me, loose leaf tea is the way to go, it offers more varieties and drinking pleasure over any tea bag!

Now that we've discovered loose leaf brewing, there are a couple of other factors on taste. First, make sure that your tea is young, that is, loose teas are best enjoyed within the first six months of the flush. Second is about what kind of water you will be using to brew it. Good water makes great tea, so avoid plain tap water since the impurities will influence the taste and instead use either natural spring water (not distilled), or well filtered water.

Pay attention to the steeping time that came with your loose leaf tea since over steeping can lead to a bitter cup due to the excess release of tannins. Water temperature is also important! White and green teas are delicate, so be sure to let the boiling water cool down for around 30 seconds before pouring. For brewing oolongs and black teas adding boiling water is fine since the leaves are more oxidized and "tougher".

So if you're a tea bag dunker, I hope this article introduced you to something new, and the next time you hear that whistle from the kettle you ditched that tea bag! If so, years of loose leaf drinking enjoyment await you, along with a healthier lifestyle!


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