A few weeks ago I got a comment on my blog from Brenna Ciummo of Seattle Coffee Gear. Now, I know when you people out there hear the word 'Seattle' you instantly think of coffee and the soft, velvet tones of Eddie Vedder's voice, and tea is not necessarily something that springs to mind. But Brenna, who is a web marketing super ninja from the sounds of things, wanted to know if I was interested in having a guest post on my blog about tea. And I certainly was. And I hope you are interested in reading it, as here it is...
How can a beverage be all things to all people? Over tea’s long and illustrious history, it seems we should be able to separate fact from fiction by now. Since its discovery in China circa 1500 BC it has been the topic of cross-disciplinary study in medicine, religion, culinary arts and philosophy. However, the line is still blurred between what passes for general wisdom and proven science when it comes to tea. Here is what we know to be true today:
A True Story
Current research shows that the antioxidants and chemical compounds in tea, especially green tea, help regulate blood pressure and improve blood vessel reactivity. This results in better blood flow to the heart which minimizes the risk of many cardiovascular health complications.
Another benefit of drinking tea includes a reduced risk of diabetes and obesity due to how polyphenols, specifically the catechins, control insulin and boost metabolism. Diabetes is a serious problem in the United States. Tea’s growing popularity here may inspire more people to incorporate tea drinking into a healthy lifestyle.
Black, green, Oolong, white and Pu-erh teas have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate cold and flu symptoms. The sensory comfort that comes from holding the steaming cup is a bonus. While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, there are many more antioxidants in a single cup of tea than from a serving of fruits or vegetables. Stick with a balanced diet though and supplement your recommended servings of fruits and veggies with tea time. Bonus: Tea also counts towards your daily water intake goal of eight glasses.
A good tea is delicious without additives, but if you enjoy adding a splash of cream to your cup you are still in luck. Contrary to popular belief, adding milk to tea doesn’t negate any of tea’s health benefits.
A Cautionary Tale
It is not coffee that pregnant women should avoid but the caffeine it it. Anyone sensitive to caffeine should be aware tea contains caffeine too. All tea comes from one plant species Camellia sinensis and all teas have caffeine. Different processing and roasting methods naturally increase or decrease the level of caffeine but it is always present (unless it has gone through a decaffeination process). Herbal teas are not teas at all, they are called tisanes or infusions and do not contain caffeine with one exception. Mate is one of the few plants on earth (along with coffee, cocoa and tea) that contain caffeine. Make sure you know what is in your cup--tea or tisane.
If you have allergies to certain plants, you may have allergies to certain tea blends and tisanes. Tea leaves are all from the same species but what gets blended with it or what is sold as herbal can have multiple ingredients like herbs, spices, and wild or cultivated plant material. Use caution when trying a new tea if you have plant allergies.
Finally, tea (and coffee) may be kitchen pantry staples, but they have a shelf life like any other food products. Many types of tea start to lose antioxidant properties after six months even when stored in a cool dry place. Make sure to store tea in an airtight container away from light, moisture and strong odors. Tea will take care of you, if you take care of your tea!
Samantha Joyce is a writer for Seattle Coffee Gear and enjoys sharing her knowledge of all things coffee and tea