Welcome to the world of healing teas. Regular tea, a refreshing stimulant, only two calories per cup, is the world’s most popular non-alcoholic healthy drink. Tea glorifies us with many different flavors, scents and colours; the colours are determined by the length of exposure to oxidation.
A great amount of tea is produced in Asia, while it is actually grown in India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, and Indonesia. Tea is a member of the camellia sinensis family. The best quality teas are grown in the high altitudes and the finest leaves are plucked from the youngest shoots and unopened leaf buds. These buds contain the highest levels of phenols, enzymes and caffeine.
The manner in which fresh tea leaves are processed includes the length of time the leaves are exposed to the oxidation process; it is that which will determine the colour and the flavor of the tea.
There are three main types of tea leaves; black Indian tea produced by drying and fermenting the leaves; thereby converting the flavorless colourless leaves into a pigmented astringent tannin. Researchers believe due to bioflavonoids, plant pigments have been linked to the protection agents that prevent heart attacks, by the reduction of the ability of blood platelets to clot. Antioxidant properties of tea also block damage caused to the arteries by free radicals released when the body consumes oxygen lack tea, researchers have found that by drinking five cups a day, reduced the incidence of stroke by 70% in men.
Green (Japanese) Tea was flavored by the Asians, and is not fermented, but dried and produces a green leaf. It is lighter in color and the tannins are the chemicals in green tea which bind surface proteins in our mouths to produce a tightening effect thereby incapacitating plaque forming bacteria. It aids in digestion of oily substances and is thought to normalize metabolism. It also contains a natural fluoride which prevents tooth decay. Researchers feel this is similar to an antiseptic effect.
Recently, researcher Iman Hakim, a professor at Arizona Cancer Center suggested the compounds in green tea positively affect genes involved in cancer susceptibility and DNA repair. Green tea has been recommended highly for the prevention of colon cancer and prostate cancer.
Tea researchers have only been interested in the effects of tea for the last 30 years and point to a 5,000 year track record of the attributes of green tea; they say that at the very least, green tea cannot hurt you, and most likely is beneficial to our bodies.
Dr. Hakim says the ongoing trials of smokers with COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, have found a significant improvement in the levels of HDL and LDL in cholesterol testing, to those given green tea and those given a placebo.
John Fox, professor of Neuroscience, biology and Psychology, in New York, USA held a symposium where participants were given 10 cups of tea each, and the other group a placebo. Those given the tea had a notable increase in the ability to focus better on given tasks. The active ingredient in this case in green tea is theanine, an amino acid.
The third main tea produced is oolong tea which stems from a combination of black tea and green tea. The actual brand names of oolong tea may contain as many as 20 different types of tea. I have purchased such teas many times, and they are truly exotic in blend and flavor. At this stage of tea drinking, one must purchase a tea steeper, which is relatively small, oval in shape, and holds the tea leaves in when you place it in a cup, this the process of “steeping” the tea is taking place. Remove when the dark colour appears.
Naturally occurring theophyllines in teas have proven to assist people with asthma. These theophyllines have been developed in the use of drugs and inhalers to treat asthma and other constrictive lung disorders.
Dandelion tea is an effective diuretic which stimulates and cleanses the liver. It has also been used to sip for bloating and constipation. You may wish to add sugar to the tea to sweeten the bitter taste of dandelion tea.
Chamomile tea is recommended by many naturopaths to take before bed time to help with insomnia and in low doses, it may relieve anxiety. Chamomile tea is a light coloured tea.
Ginger Tea is a spicy brew, and my favorite; it has long been used for gastrointestinal distress, including nausea and vomiting. Ginger tea is so tasty with a little honey and milk. Of course, ginger, being a very popular spice, is used in many variations of teas, which definitely would be a healthy recipe for healthy living.
Licorice tea is bold, aromatic and is known to fight off stress and fatigue. In ancient civilizations, it was thought to be a potent aphrodisiac. So, if you want to feel sexy, try drinking licorice tea. Good luck with the results.
Peppermint tea sweetens your breath with its pungent concoction, leaving your mouth fresh for a kiss! Peppermint has long been known to ‘tame the tummy’.
Rooibos tea is a caffeine free South African tea, low in tannin levels, and rich in mineral content, which promotes healthy skin, teeth and bones. Apparently, rooibos tea has antioxidant properties and is reputed to be anti-ageing, which I am certain would be appealing to most of us for healthy living.
If sales are any indication of use of teas, last year was the 15th consecutive year consumers in America have bought more tea than ever before. On any given day, about one half of the population drinks tea. In 2006, US consumed 2.25 billion gallons, of which 83% was black tea, 16% green tea, and 85% iced tea.
It is very obvious to me there are numerous healthy benefits to consuming teas and it is quite clear that tea drinkers need not worry about toxicity as according to studies shown in 2008, as Author Beverly Sills says, there are no published records concerning toxicity. It was also noted that tea has less caffeine than coffee.
“Polly put the kettle on.” It is clear to me that tea, the world’s most popular non-alcoholic drink, is a healthy recipe for healthy living. Now you are aware of the healing teas to select. Bottoms up everyone.