Tea: A Drink for Good Health
When people think of tea they think that anything that is infused with water counts. In actuality it's only a true tea if it's from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The types of tea made from this plant are green, white, black, and oolong.
The discovery of tea is said to have happened in 2737 BC by the Emperor of China and for the next 700 years people drank it for its medicinal properties. However, by the time of the Zhou Dynasty, it was used as a religious offering. During the Han Dynasty tea plants become limited and only royalty and the rich were able to drink it. More tea plants became available during the Tang Dynasty and became a regular drink for all classes. Also during the Tang Dynasty, drinking tea was spread to Japan.
Japanese priests, who were studying in China, brought the practice of drinking tea back with them. At first tea was only for priests and the wealthy. In Japan, tea is usually associated with Zen Buddhism. The priests would drink it to stay awake and meditate. It was around this time the Japanese Tea Ceremony came about.
Finally, in the 17th century, tea made its way to England. King Charles II married a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, who brought the tea to royalty. Eventually it became a popular import to England through the East India Company. Afternoon tea, or tea parties, became a popular way for the aristocratic society to drink tea. Despite being imported regularly, the tax for tea was quite high. Smugglers would get and sell tea to those who could not otherwise afford it. The East India Company then started to export to America in an effort to turn a profit. Unfortunately the tax for Americans was also quite high which contributed to the Boston Tea Party.
Choosing Which Tea
All four contain similar benefits so when choosing which one to start drinking you will probably consider two things: taste and caffeine content.
The type of soil, weather conditions, and processing all contribute to the different tastes of tea but oxidation is the distinguishing factor. Oxidation begins after the leaf has been picked and goes through the process of being dried, withered, rolled, and heat treated.
If you're a coffee drinker making the switch to tea the amount of caffeine will matter. Black tea will have the most followed by oolong, green, and then finally white tea.
Benefits of Tea
Tea has been in the spotlight for a few years now. Not only will it help you with your daily water intake but it contains some great health benefits.
- It contains polypehnols such as flavonoids and catechins that function as antioxidants. One of the most powerful antioxidants is Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has the potential to be useful in many disorders.
- Tea drinkers typically have a lower risk of cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
- It helps to kill the bacteria and viruses that impact dental health and cause bad breath.
- Can lower your risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Helps treat osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to become brittle and weak.
- Can help lower your risk of kidney stones.
- Contains antibacterial and antiviral qualities.
- Will help to lower bad cholesterol.
Other Teas to Consider
You may find that the teas above don't suit you at all. There are other herbal teas out there with health benefits of their own.
Rooibos: Helps with headaches, insomnia, asthma, and allergies.
Dandelion: Good for detoxification, digestion, and helps support liver function.
Tulsi (Holy Basil): Enhances the immune system, helps relieve chest congestion, and can be effective in the treatment of arthritis. It also helps support the adrenal glands by reducing cortisol levels.