I was never a tea drinker until I moved to Maine. I was actually more of a coffee enjoyer, looking forward to a cup every morning. That all changed when I moved to Maine, and a friend of mine took me to a tea shop. I purchased Wild Maine Blueberry Black Tea, and let me just say, it was one of the best purchases I made that day. I experienced a warm, floral, fresh, fruity, light and crisp taste. Ever since then, my winter beverage has been tea. Occasionally, I have a cup of coffee, but it does not compare to the many teas I have tried since then.
Tea has a very rich history. It turns out that tea first originated in China under the Shang dynasty but didn’t gain recognition until the Tang dynasty. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to discover tea and brought it from China in the 15th century. Later, tea was introduced to Europe during the 16th century. Eventually, it made its way to Britain in the 17th century. As you may know, tea has contributed to a couple of massive world changes, from colonization under the British East India Company to the Boston Tea Party.
Tea is a beverage prepared by pouring hot or boiled water over anything that is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to East Asia. It is one of the most ancient beverages consumed around the world and the second most widely consumed drink around the world, with water being the first. Today, the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe are known for having high rates of black tea consumption, compared to Japan and China, where green tea is the most consumed. These East Asian countries have used green tea as a medicine for centuries and it is often referred to as the Chinese tea.
Now, I knew before that tea was good for you. But I had no clue how beneficial this beverage could be until I started writing this article. It is known for helping blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight and it turns out that green tea has less caffeine than black tea, while most herbal tea is caffeine-free.
When you are at the grocery store and are faced with the tea wall, which contains a variety to choose from, it is most likely you will come across classic teas and herbal teas on the shelf. These two types of beverages are different, something I had no idea there was a difference between. Then I came to learn that despite herbal teas having “tea” at the end, they are not real tea because they do not contain the Camellia sinensis plant. They tend to have spices, flowers, and leaves of a variety of other plants including fruits. Even though herbal teas are not classified as tea drinks, they still have benefits since they also come from plants. For example, many of them contain an antioxidant called L-theanine, which can help reduce stress. Each herbal tea is known for being able to help with specific health issues.
Studies have proven that classic Camellia sinenesis tea can boost your immune system, fight off inflammation, and even help fight off cancer and heart disease. These teas have antioxidants that neutralize your body and cause inflammation that upset cell function. This is how antioxidants in tea help you stay healthy. Research on classic teas and cancer prevention has focused on the natural antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate, known as EGCG. It has been discovered that ECGC was found to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly bladder cancer.
Soon, winter will begin, and with it, cold and flu season. Some herbal teas to drink when you are sick with a cold are echinacea, ginger and hibiscus tea. The tea’s warmth will help alleviate your throat and congestions. Adding honey to your tea can help with coughing, while adding lemon will provide extra vitamin C, strengthening your immune system.
You may be thinking, who really drinks tea? Well, on any given day, about 159 million Americans do. I’m definitely one of those people. If you are considering the possibility of switching over from coffee to real tea and are worried about not getting caffeine, know that all real teas are caffeinated. Grab your favorite mug and a new kind of tea and see what the hype is all about.