Drinking tea is good for your health, both body and mind health. Tea is the most frequently consumed beverage around the world other than water, a $6.5 billion industry in the United States alone, according to World Tea Expo. It’s also a cultural icon with innumerable local variations. There are postprandial mint teas poured with a flourish in North Africa, milky concoctions served with scones and jam on British afternoons, energizing matés brewed in the Andes, sweet teas sipped at lunches in Savannah, Georgia. In the Middle East, serving tea to a stranger is a gesture of hospitality. In Japan, it has a formal ceremony. And the aroma of a tea can bring back a memory as surely as a photograph.
“True” teas, such as black, green, oolong, and white, come from the Camellia sinensis plant. And while all four teas offer myriad health benefits, studies show that black and green teas are the front-runners in heart health, packing the most powerful antioxidant punch and helping reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 10 to 20%, according to data published in Food & Function.
Black tea is fully oxidized while oolong tea is only partially oxidized. Pu-erh tea is aged and considered a post-oxidized tea. These true teas offer a range of health benefits, but are considered slightly inferior to green tea. The caffeine content of true teas varies between the different types and on how the tea was produced. Herbal teas are made by infusing fruits, roots, herbs, leaves, and stems of a variety of plants. Herbal teas are also commonly called herbal tisanes. These teas boas health benefits that differ from true teas since they contain various compounds. Some of the most popular herbal teas include ginger tea, peppermint tea, and chamomile tea. Herbal teas do not contain any caffeine.
Terroir Tea: I was there in search of the terroir of my favorite tea, just as I’ve flown around the world to see vineyards and meet winemakers so I can better understand my favorite wines. The journey started at a tearoom in a strip mall in Tucson, Arizona, where I tasted a da hong pao, a type of oolong, that altered my tea-drinking life. In the same way that Montrachet is a particular kind of Burgundy from a specific vineyard in France, da hong pao comes from a single source: the stony slopes of Wuyi Mountain. It’s rare, expensive, and frequently counterfeited, but this one was authentic. It tasted as autumnal as Thanksgiving dinner, with the sweet balsamic flavors of grilled peach. And it kept getting better—richer and rounder with every cup.
Herbal blends have no caffeine, while traditional teas have less than 50 percent of what typically is found in coffee. That means you can consume it without those pesky effects on your nervous system, says Leslie Bonci, nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice. If you’re trying to switch from coffee to tea, try a chicory root tea like Teeccino, which has a mouth feel and flavor similar to coffee. Chicory root is also known to help reduce stress and is a prebiotic so may be helpful to your gut. Bonus: this tea will give you a kick of energy without the caffeine.
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