It's a refreshing beverage that has long been consumed in Asia and the Middle East and has now become a regular staple in North America.
Once regarded as a culinary exotica, this tea is now commonly available virtually world-wide.
And this availability is a good thing since this delicious beverage is steeped in history and may be one of the most nutritious super-foods to gain mass appeal in recent memory.
It can be readily purchased in many forms, such as dry tea, mixed in health drinks, and even in ice cream.
So let's unlock the mystery.
While all true teas come from the same tropical plant (Camellia sinensis), the variation in styles lay in how the leaves of this plant are harvested and processed.
There are certainly many varieties of tea that are cultivated throughout the world, and differences in flavor and style can be attributed to these variations as well as soil, climate, and other environmental factors.
There's a great deal of controversy surrounding the history of tea consumption, but I think it can safely be said that tea has been consumed for thousands of years.
In fact, the first written reference goes back the first century AD, while the first text devoted to tea consumption, Cha-Sing ("The Art of Tea"), dates to around the 8th century.
It goes without saying that people had probably stumbled across tea much earlier than this, as many plants were exploited for medicinal and culinary purposes before being immortalized in text.
This delicious beverage is "steeped" in history and may be one of the most nutritious super-foods to gain mass appeal in recent memory.
Tea preparation as we know it, steeping leaves in hot water, was probably not thought of as tradition until around the 13th century.
Since this time though, important customs and traditions have been developed around tea, many of which still exist in some form even now.
We only need to think about the various tea traditions of China, Japan, India, the Middle East, Britain, and even the American South to realize the unique ways in which tea has become part of our shared consciousness.
3 Major Types of Tea;
This type is primarily produced from young tea leaf buds, is minimally processed and has a mild flavor.
This style of tea makes up a small fraction of the world's consumption.
Oolong tea is dried through exposure to the sun and allowed to partially ferment.
It is generally lighter in character to black tea, but has a more delicate flavor and nuance.
To produce black tea, leaves are picked and allowed to completely ferment.
This process is what gives black tea its characteristic color and deep flavor.
The vast majority of all tea consumed is black tea.
How to Prepare the Various Types of Green Tea
This super beverage, like all other types of tea, is available in bags or as loose tea.
One of the primary differences between brewing this tea and other kinds of tea however, is that this variety requires cooler water for proper brewing and optimal flavor.
Unlike other teas, it can be used up to three or four times though.
Within these major classes of green tea, there still exists great diversity as various producers have concocted their own unique harvesting and processing methods.
Some require special treatment and it takes years of tea drinking to fully explore the nuances of each.
The guidelines below are certainly not the end all, as different teas require slightly different preparation and brewing temperatures.
This is the most widely consumed type of tea in Japan.
Sencha means "common", but it can range in price depending on the quality.
Most sencha teas are mild, herbaceous and calming.
Shincha refers to young sencha tea.
This tea is prized for having a sweeter, less astringent flavor.
To brew sencha, use 1 teaspoon of leaves with 6-8 ounces of hot (150-160°F) water.
A green tea powder, matcha is produced by steaming, drying, and grinding the leaves into a fine powder.
It is typically consumed in small cups.
To prepare this brew, mix 1 teaspoon or so with a small cup of hot water (150-160°F) and stir to combine.
This unique type of green tea is made by roasting (instead of steaming) the leaves.
Because of the processing technique, it has less caffeine than other teas, but has a nutty, deep flavor.
These are a great alternative to those who want some of the health benefits of this tea with a more pronounced flavor reminiscent of black teas.
Brew for 90 seconds or so, to extract the full flavor of this unique tea.
This type of tea is considered low grade and uses the larger leaves that are harvested late in the season.
Because of the strong flavor, bancha tea can be brewed in as little as 15 to 30 seconds.
Over the past 15 years, there have been hundreds of scientific studies and papers that have verified the health benefits of green tea.
These studies have been conducted by major universities and medical journals.
Their findings simply verify what many have known for hundreds of years, that this tea has powerful medicinal qualities and provides long term protection to a great variety of illnesses.
Tea contains a number of polyphenols, bioactive chemical compounds that have healing properties.
These compounds actually exist in many food items, but are particularly high in this tea variety.
Tea polyphenols are strong antioxidants.
That is, they actually help to maintain and repair the health of your cells by cleaning up the agents that cause cancer and other sorts of degeneration and mutation.
• In general, it has one-balf to one-third the caffeine of black tea.
• It may reduce high blood pressure by inhibiting and narrowing in blood vessels.
• It's been shown to significantly reduce incidence of stomach cancer.
• Among smokers, these tea drinkers have lower rates of esophageal cancer.
• It's also been shown to reduce recurrence of breast cancer.
• Tea consumption has been proven to improve cardiovascular health and may aid recovery from heart attacks.
• Green tea has been shown to be part of effective weight loss regimens.
• Compounds in this tea may alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The Green-Tea Caveat
Did you know that most of the free-radical fighters in green tea never make it to your bloodstream?
But there's a solution.
To get a better grasp on the healthy catechins in your green tea, flavor your cup with a squeeze of citrus juice.
Catechins are the antioxidants in green tea famous for lowering your risk of chronic disease but quickly lose their power in your intestine.
In fact, as much as 80 percent of the catechins are never absorbed.
The solution to boosting absorption, researchers recently found, is as simple as flavoring your tea with freshly squeezed and strained lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit juice.
Tea with C
The vitamin-C in citrus helps with absorption by increasing the acidity in your small intestine.
The good news: Recently, when scientists added lemon juice to green tea, the availability of health-enhancing catechins skyrocketed to a whopping 80 percent.
Researchers found a 50-50 mix had the greatest catechin-preserving effect, and lemon did it best, closely followed by orange, lime, and, in last place, grapefruit.
Now, here's a great recipe we're sure you'll enjoy.
Green Tea Chicken with Lemon Rice
A marinated chicken dish for any season.
Your skin will be thanking your for this yummy marinade, and showing it's appreciation in smoothness.
Prep: 10 min Total: 30 min
Makes 4 Servings
4 green tea bags
7 oz. (200 g.) basmati rice, rinsed
4 lemons, zest and juice
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. organic honey
1/4 oz. (15 g.) chives, chopped
4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1. Place the green tea, lemon zest, and honey in a large dish.
Pour over 200 ml. (7 oz.) of hot water.
2. Add the chicken once the mixture has cooled, and chill overnight, covered, in the fridge.
3. Place the rice in a pan when you are ready to make the chicken dish.
Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack and keep it warm.
4. Drain the chicken from the marinade while the rice is cooking.
Discard the marinade.
Pat the chicken dry and season it well.
5. Heat a griddle type pan with 1 Tbs. of the oil and cook the chicken breasts for 4–5 minutes on each side until thoroughly cooked.
6. Stir the lemon juice, the 2 remaining Tbs. of olive oil and the chives into the rice and season well.
Serve straight away with the grilled chicken on the side.
Well, we hope you've learned everything you wanted to know about various tea types.
And I offer a toast to "our" health!
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