Oriental and Indian cultures have known about the benefits of tea for thousands of years. The rest of the world is slowing catching up and being educated on the immense variety of healthy teas available.
The color of tea is usually dependent on the amount of post-harvesting processing.
White Teas – are the least processed and are not fermented. White tea is gaining in popularity as its significant health benefits become more widely recognized. White tea, as recent research has demonstrated, has the highest cancer fighting antioxidant polyphenols and has significantly lower caffeine content than black tea or green tea.
White tea can be considered a specialty tea due to its higher price, with some connoisseur blends of hand-picked limited-harvest white tea, grown in China, costing hundreds of dollars a pound.
Care needs to be taken when brewing white tea. Its delicate nature dictates for the best results, purified water at below boiling point should be used. Water which is too hot can result in a bitter tea, something you certainly want to avoid when you have paid for an expensive tea. White tea can be steeped for up to ten minutes, depending on your individual preference.
Green Teas – produced in China, Japan and Taiwan, are not fermented, low in caffeine and are well-known for health benefits, like boosting your immune system, reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Like white tea, green tea contains antioxidants, flavonoids, catechins vitamins C and E, and natural fluoride which protects against tooth decay.
For best results, green tea should be brewed with purified water, which is below boiling point. To avoid bitterness, do not infuse for longer than 1-2 minutes for fine leaf varieties, or 2-3 minutes for larger leaf varieties.
Black teas – are fully fermented teas and are the most commonly consumed. Hundreds of named varieties are available. Black tea is produced in large quantities in China, India, Sri Lanka, with smaller amounts coming from Australia, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal and New Guinea. Specialty black teas are vastly different to the average tea bag, each having its own distinct color and taste.
Black teas also provide health benefits similar to green tea.
Oolong tea – combines the best qualities of both green and black teas. Semi-fermented, producing a refreshing, fragrant result. Adding milk is not recommended.
Wu-Yi Tea is a special Oolong tea well known for its weight loss properties.The raw leaves are sun-wilted and then bruised, which exposes their juices to the air, this causes the leaves to oxidize and start to turn brown like a cut fruit. They are only partially oxidized, giving them a rich, floral flavor. The tea is then fully dried which locks in the rich flavors that oolong tea is known to offer. The unique drying process that takes place in the creation of a tea that has many metabolic stimulating attributes. Find out more about Wu-Yi Tea HERE.
Jasmine tea – a non-fermented Chinese tea well known for its affinity with Asian food. Do not add milk.
Specialty flavored teas – a huge range of tea varieties blended with natural ingredients to add flavor. Additional ingredients can include:-
Spices – like anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel and black peppercorns.
Fruits – like apricot, cherry, apple, orange, blackcurrant, strawberry, lemon, lime, lychee, mango, raspberry and passionfruit.
Flowers – like hibiscus, lavender, rose, cornflower, calendula, and jasmine.
Nuts – like almond.
Other exotic ingredients like ginger, chocolate, mint, caramel, coconut, vanilla beans, bergamot and ginseng.
Specialty teas are consumed without milk.
Herbal teas – also known as herbal infusions – do not usually contain white, green or black teas, they consist of a variety of blends of herbs, spices and fruits chosen for particular health benefits. Herbal teas are usually named after the benefit they are promoting, e.g., “Recovery” blend for hangovers.
Ayurvedic teas – similar to herbal teas, but, based on ancient Indian healing principles, Ayurvedic teas aim to improve your life and extend your longevity.
Teas are a low calorie beverage choice (especially when no milk, sugar or honey is used), adding to your daily intake of water. Teas should be purchased as loose leaf teas, never teabags. Lemon juice can be added as a taste preference. Most teas can also be iced for a summer treat.