There are over 3000 varieties of tea from around the world. Tea was discovered by accident around 2700 B.C., when the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was resting beneath a shade tree as his servant was boiling some drinking water. The leaves from a wild tea tree fell into the pot. The Emperor sipped what he thought was water and to his delight, the beverage tea came to be. All true tea derives from a single plant, the Evergreen Camellia Sinensis.
Note * Herbal teas are not really “tea” at all, but rather beverages brewed from roots, herbs and other sources.
Three types of tea derive from the Camellia Sinensis: Green, Black and Oolong. The difference between the three teas, come from the way the tea leaves are processed. Green tea is lightly processed and has received the most attention for heart benefits. Black tea is made from leaves left to ferment following the harvest of tea leaves. This process darkens the leaves and allows the flavor to be strong. Oolong tea is partially fermented, milder than black and stronger than green.
Tea contains phytonutrient polyphenols or “flavonoids”, one of 4000 chemical compounds found in tea. These flavonoids are the same types found in red wine and berries. There are 266 milligrams of flavonoids in one cup of brewed black tea and around 315 milligrams of flavonoids in green tea. However, the most potent substance you will find in tea is EGCG, a flavonoid group called Catechins. It has been documented in several laboratory tests that EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) found in green tea is twenty times more potent an antioxidant than vitamin C.
The benefits of drinking tea are many: cancer prevention, lower risk of dementia, heart health, dental health, kidney health, bone health and may assist in weight loss due to energy boost from caffeine. Consuming one cup of tea provides some benefit for health, but for the maximum benefit you may need to consume up to 4 cups per day.
To get the maximum benefit, here are some tips for you on brewing!
– Instant tea will not give you the antioxidant benefit you are looking for due to the processing.
– Tea should be brewed for at least 3 minutes.
– You will get the same benefit from tea bags as you would from loose leaves.
– To get a bigger boost of almost double the polyphenol, squeeze your tea bag!
– Does not matter if you drink it hot or cold, but do not drink excessively hot.
– Drink fresh brewed tea as flavonoids will degrade over time.
– Use green tea in marinades and sauces.
– For an added dose of polyphenol add a wedge of lemon or lime.
Whether you prefer Green tea (favored in Japan), Black tea (favored in Europe) or Oolong tea (favored in China) they are great health benefits to be had from all.