Tea the New Health Beverage
After water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world.
Tea is derived from the tea leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and different teas derive from the way it is processed. Herbal teas are not in fact tea but made from infusions of fruit or herbs. Tea has been drunk for taste and ritual. Only recently have we been given the facts of the health benefits of this centuries old drink.
Tea’s origins are in China and were brought to England as part of Catherine of Braganza dowry to Charles II, where it became all the rage at Royal Court. It was a drink for the rich. Tea was kept under lock and key. The Chinese controlled the supply and not wanting the origins of the tea to be known it was dyed blue green colour with arsenic. Throughout history ea has a presence in every culture as part of a daily routine i.e. tea break and for social gatherings such as afternoon tea and high tea
Recently tea has come back into flavour due to the discovery of health benefits of flavinoids: green and black tea may protect against cancer including a lower risk for cancer metastases and recurrence, as well as cardiovascular disease. Tea’s antioxidants benefit the skin by keeping you looking younger.
White tea which is two leaves and a bud and silvery in colour and green teas have the reputation as teas as the highest antioxidants. These teas are best prepared with water just below the boiling point 65-85 degrees C. Since oxygen reacts with phenolic molecules to turn them brown and reduce potency as antioxidants. Therefore bring the water to full boil then cool to desired temperature to ensure the best antioxidant qualities.
A lesser known fact is that tea prevents tooth decay and fights bad breath with catechins kill bacteria, and the calcium and magnesium in tea helps with teeth maintenance. Green tea is touted as reducing the risk of coronary artery disease with flavonoids reducing cholesterol and build up of plaque on artery walls.
Black tea is known for weight loss as catechins block fat mainly abdominal fat. It also protects the brain against developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Tea drunk without milk has the most benefits as milk proteins adhere to the catechins and interfering with the benefits. So clear tea with no milk or lemon is preferred. Research on prostate cancer shows it benefits in a British study published by the Tea Council. Research in Sweden 2005 in a 15 year study with 60,000 women notes drinking 1-2 cups of tea a day can reduce your chance of developing ovarian cancer by 46 %.
As with anything that is good for you, drink in moderation 2-3 cups daily. Limit cut off before 4 pm as if sensitive to caffeine this may impact on sleep patterns. Tea is picked as an alternative to coffee as it has less caffeine.