Written By Jessica Dambruch
Discover the healthful benefits of tea.
How much do you know about hot tea? Understanding what gives different types of teas their distinct flavors and health benefits may help you choose your next cup.
Types of Teas
Our favorite drink comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which produces varieties such as white, black, green and oolong tea. The variance in caffeine and flavor is due to when and how leaves are harvested, whether they are wilted or oxidized, and the different ways they are combined into specific blends, such as:
–White Tea: A delicate tea created from young green leaf buds, rich in antioxidants and nutrients.
–Green Tea: Light on caffeine and steeped in beneficial antioxidants, many green teas appear in flavorful combinations with other fruity flavors such as mango and pomegranate.
–Oolong Tea: A mildly oxidized tea with a soft, delicate flavor.
–Black Tea: Bold flavor combined with the super-caffeinated strength of oxidized tea leaves. Bergamot (found in Earl Grey), cinnamon and apple make great accompaniments to a dark black tea. Chai, a blend of sweet spices and hot milk from India, can be made from any black tea to suit your individual taste.
If your warm drink contains herbs and spices, but no actual tea leaves, it is considered an “herbal infusion.” These caffeine-free concoctions afford us many flavorful options such as Peppermint, Rosehip and Chamomile, all made with aromatic dried leaves, blossoms or fruit. What they lack in caffeine they make up for in healthful benefits, such as easing stress and pain and possibly improving memory.
Making Your Own
The more intrepid tea connoisseurs can try making their own tea blends. If funds allow, purchasing herbs in bulk from local organic grocers, co-ops or whole foods exchanges provides the chance to create a truly unique blend. Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in Richmond, for example, sells dried organic spices at reasonable prices. Additionally, the ever-popular Whole Foods, with locations throughout Virginia, also offers high-quality herbs in bulk.
–Sweetening: Adding a natural sweetener such as honey or raw sugar can humor your sweet tooth. A small amount of dried pomegranate or ground blueberries will add a juicy flavor and rich, natural antioxidants.
–Soothe Your System: Add chamomile to any cup to aid indigestion, ease abdominal pain and fight off bacteria.
–An Added Immune Boost: Give your immune system a boost with a pairing of lemon or milled hibiscus, rich in vitamin C, to energize your body.