Why tea is an all-time favourite
For millions of people around the world there's nothing more refreshing than a good cup of tea. In fact, after water, it's the world’s favourite drink. So how does it manage to revitalise us so thoroughly with each and every sip?
It's all in the leaves
Tea is mostly made from the fresh green leaves of two main types of Camellia sinensis. One variety, sinensis, is a small bush native to China and traditionally used for green tea. The other, assamica, is a small tree native to India and traditionally used for black tea. Leaves harvested from tea bushes soon start to undergo complex biochemical changes which, if left to continue, will lead to the development of black leaf tea. Green tea comes about when the leaves are used before these changes can come into effect.
Milk, sugar, lemon…
Everyone has his or her own idea as to what constitutes the 'perfect cup of tea'. Consider the ratio of leaves to water, infusion time and the addition of milk, lemon or sugar. Personal experience dictates individual preference, so don’t pay too much attention to anyone who says a cup of tea has to be made in a particular way.
Researchers have reached a consensus on tea and its health benefits. Contrary to popular belief, scientific evidence shows that tea hydrates. It is also stimulating thanks to the combined effects of theanine, an amino acid only present in tea-based beverages, and a caffeine content that is roughly half that of coffee. It is a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants which have a longer-term health benefit. Scientific evidence shows that flavanoid antioxidants improve vascular responsiveness and blood circulation. Recent research also indicates that the catechins found in green tea may have a place in helping to reduce body fat and waist circumference.
The perfect brew?
Whichever way you like your tea, ensure you follow these simple guidelines:
- Always use clean utensils
- Make sure the water is boiling – otherwise the flavour of your beverage will be impaired
- Try not to overwhelm the subtle flavours of the tea by adding too much sugar or lemon.