Tea. A Beginner’s Guide.

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(Annapurna I, Ghandruk Nepal)

Tea. The most popular beverage in the world after water. I am an addict for the stuff. All teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. Climate, soil, altitude and latitude come together to create a unique profile for each plant. We then cultivate and process these plants using various methods to create our different tea varietals.  

Types of tea

There are over 1500 varieties; but 6 main categories. Black, green, white, oolong, yellow, and pu’er. Herbal tea is created from a blend of herbs and spices. Chai tea is just black tea with spices. Kombucha is a type of fermented tea.

These different varietals are created through different methods of processing.

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Picking. Sorting. Withering. Steaming. Rolling. Firing. Twisting. Oxidizing. Drying. Just use the useful acronym PSWSRFTOD. 

How to brew a proper cup

  1. Use organic fair-trade tea and a reusable mug (Because environment)
  2. Use whole leaf teas (Less bitter, more nuanced flavor, environment)
  3. Warm the cup with water (Tea stays at constant temp while steeping)
  4. Use filtered water (Filtered water won’t distort flavor)
  5. Set the correct temp (Different teas are brewed at different temps)
  6. Set a timer for steeping (Different teas are steeped different times)

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Why drink tea?

  1. Tea might counteract some negative effects of smoking and may even lessen the risk of lung cancer. (So toke up! Nah, JK. Cigs are still super bad for you.)
  2. Tea may aid in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases, especially degenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s. Polyphenols in green tea may help maintain areas of the brain associated with learning and memory.
  3. Tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.
  4. Tea, unlike coffee, is actually hydrating to the body.
  5. Tea contains the amino acid L-theanine. A relaxant which has shown to improve cognitive function, and mood.

Perhaps, it’s interesting how the mineral content and ph of the soil south of the Yangtze affects your cup of tea; but, neither teas’ complexity nor its’ health benefits is why I enjoy tea. I enjoy tea because it is a signal to my brain that it is no longer burdened by the recurrent thought of “what’s next”. It tells me I can dissolve myself into the present. Nestled up with a cup reading, or watching my favorite show, (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is my shit rn) or writing a blog post. I made myself three cups of some heavenly milk oolong while writing this post. Tea is a fucking beautiful thing. Too many people have been turned off by someone giving them a cuppa cheap black tea steeped for ten minutes. You cannot say you don’t like tea after an experience like that. Tea is so incredibly versatile that there is bound to be a cup that suits your taste. Get out there and find it. 

References:

Hakim, Iman A, et al. “Effect of Increased Tea Consumption on Oxidative DNA Damage among Smokers: a Randomized Controlled Study.” The Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2003, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14519830.

Owen, Gail N, et al. “The Combined Effects of L-Theanine and Caffeine on Cognitive Performance and Mood.” Nutritional Neuroscience, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2008, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988.

Ruxton, Carrie H, and Valerie A Hart. “Black Tea Is Not Significantly Different from Water in the Maintenance of Normal Hydration in Human Subjects: Results from a Randomised Controlled Trial.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21450118.

Shen, Chwan-Li, et al. “Green Tea Polyphenols Benefits Body Composition and Improves Bone Quality in Long-Term High-Fat Diet-Induced Obese Rats.” Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2012, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22749181.

Wang, Yanyan, et al. “Green Tea Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG) Promotes Neural Progenitor Cell Proliferation and Sonic Hedgehog Pathway Activation during Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2012, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22692966.