Whether you have been drinking your tea iced or hot, the beverage is creating quite a stir and many sources claim that it is a health powerhouse. Research has shown that tea prevents cancer, strengthens your bones and lowers cholesterol. Studies have also shown tea to lower heart disease, boost your body’s ability to fight off germs and sharpen your concentration.
Tea’s healthy benefits come from antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids destroy highly toxic free radicals in the body which can trigger disease. These natural compounds are found only in the real thing – tea made from Camellia sinensis, a warm weather Southeast Asian evergreen shrub. Black, green, white and oolong teas all come from this small tree and are rich in the healthy antioxidant properties.
Herbal teas are not derived from this shrub and therefore do not contain these same healthy properties. Apparently, herbal teas in the market are not really teas at all but are infusions made with the roots, leaves or flowers of various herbal plants. The South African red Rooibos teas also falls within the herbal tea category. Although herbal teas do not contain flavonoids, they do promote other health benefits such as relaxation and calming effects.
Green tea may lose some of its beneficial antioxidants during digestion. Catechins, which are abundant in green tea and display health promoting qualities, are relatively unstable in non-acidic environment such as the intestines and less than 20 percent of the total remains after digestion. To counteract this, add lemon juice or any citrus juice. The more juice the better. The key is the vitamin C which is ascorbic acid. Also, tea contains caffeine. If this is a problem for you, you can eliminate most of the caffeine in regular tea by steeping loose tea or a teabag in hot water for 45 seconds and then pour off the water. Add more hot water and brew the tea as usual. This will not affect the flavor or health benefits.
So are you ready to give up your coffee and switch to tea? If you have already done so, do you have any favorite brands or flavors? What other interesting information or tips do you have for brewing the perfect cup of tea?