Sunday, February 9, 2014

Different Tea Choices: Understanding Health Benefits & Flavor Variations

Tea has been one of the oldest beverages drunk up by man for relaxation and comfort. In cold weather a hot brew helps keep body warm and refreshes the mind from the day’s labors. Visit any grocery store and you’re sure to find a lot of tea brands as choices and some herbal infusions claiming to be herbal and healthy.
Do you want regular tea or one with little/no caffeine? Tea that’s classic in its flavor or one that’s infused with myriad other flavors like of fruits, spices or plant parts? You can get the finest blends in packages, loose form and in hygienic bags.
Such is the pull of this deeply flavored leaf that it has entered the cold beverages market with a storm and is fast finding its own niche in form of iced-teas and infused alcohol mixtures.
 Tea: What Is It Really?
You have to remember that only tea made from leaves of Camelia sinensis - a bush that originally grew in Asia and was used by Chinese  in earlier times as digestive tonic.  Other Asians also followed and used the leaves to prepare a hot beverage. .
There are variants of this plant depend on the climates where it is grown, the stage of growth when the leaf is plucked and the leaf size as also the processing it undergoes. So we have tea categorized as white, black, green and oolong.
These also have differing levels of antioxidants and other important ingredients. Green tea for instance has a higher catechin level than what you’d find in black leaf.  But it doesn’t have theaflavins as is found in black tea. Herbal infusions are essentially not considered ‘true’ teas.
 Green Tea: Benefits
The flavor of green leaf is attributed to presence of theanine and its texture is thanks to the catechins present. It is also the theanine that acts as mild relaxant while toning down effects of caffeine that lends a bitter taste to the flavor and helps improve alertness.
 White Tea: Why It Is Good?
White tea happens to have extremely low caffeine levels and is least processed of all the leaves. Great for people wanting to cut down on their caffeine! It is also the least oxidized and helps prevent heart problems, cancers and fight diabetes.
 Oolong Tea: A Digestive Aid
Oolong teas fluctuate in their oxidation levels from 20 to 80% and though higher in oxidation than green leaf have polyphenols which defend body against dementia, cancers and heart issues.
 Pu-erh: Uniquely Processed
Pu-erh tea leaves are the fermented, aged variation of regular leaves which is why it has a high flavonoid content and low caffeine level. Known to break down fats Pu-erh helps your stomach settle down after a heavy meal. You also get a metabolic boost by having this brew. So go on and get energized!

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