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Tuesday, 12 January 2016 09:48

5 Things You May Not Know About Tea

Written by  Sam K
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Generations of people have grown to love the medicinal as well as relaxing properties of the humble tea leaf. For good reason too, because tea has been attributed to bolstering your immune system, improving your bones as well as keeping you hydrated. And while there is no surprise about the health benefits and natural anti-oxidants of the world’s second most popular drink, there are still a few things that might raise an eyebrow or two – here are 5 things about this deceptively simple beverage that you might not know!

1. Tea has more caffeine than coffee

The age-old argument has always been brought up by connoisseurs from both sides and has been talked about for years – does tea contain more caffeine than coffee? Well the answer is yes, and no. Pound for pound, dry tea leaves actually do contain more caffeine than coffee; however, a lot of this caffeine is lost in the preparation of your tea, so in the end your cup of tea usually contains about half or less the amount of caffeine compared to a standard cup of brewed coffee. Furthermore, the type of tea you’re drinking really affects the amount of caffeine being ingested. Black teas in general have the highest caffeine release, while herbal teas have the lowest.

2. Some teas aren’t really teas

It seems a little odd that herbal teas aren’t really teas, but the reasoning stems from their ingredients. Many types of teas come from the Camellia Sinensis species – otherwise known as the tea plant. These blends include Assam, Darjeeling, and Chinese tea. However, herbal teas come from more unconventional ingredients such as peppermint, fennel, or even lemon rind. The absence of the Camellia Sinensis within a cup of herbal tea has led many to believe that herbal teas don’t really deserve the title “tea”, and has thus led to a new revolution of herbal “infusions”. Whether you like to call them teas or infusions is really up to you – it’s better to just enjoy the rich flavours and soothing aromas.

3. Tibetan butter tea that keeps you warm

Photo credit: ericainwonderland.com

A specialty in Tibetan culture, butter tea is a staple for people living in the Himalayan regions and surrounding areas. The tea starts off being boiled until it reaches the proper temperature and thickness, at which point it is skimmed and transferred into clay vessels, tea pots, or jars. Following this, the tea is mixed with salt and good dollop of yak butter before being shaken or churned until it reaches the right consistency.  The resulting mixture has been described by many as creamy, savoury and slightly oily. It’s incredibly well received in Tibet though, and many Tibetans will drink this tea several times a day. With its high caloric value, it helps to keep the body warm in colder climates, and is a great boost of energy. Modern day variations include using tea bags, blenders, and even stirring regular cow’s butter into a hot cup!

4. Cold-brewing your tea for a different flavour

It might sound a little strange to swap the teapot and stove for a pitcher and fridge, but there are many who swear by cold-brewed teas. There’s a transformation of flavours that many teas undergo when they are brewed cold instead of hot. Remember to check and see if your tea is fit for cold-brewing though! This is because some teas contain ingredients that must interact with hot water in order to be fit for consumption. For the rest of the lot, try adding cold water and leaving it in the fridge! Like regular brewing, the amount of tea used, amount of time left to brew and condiments will change the way your tea tastes. One thing is for sure though, cold-brewed teas are a great way to revitalise your favorite teas and give them completely new flavours.

5. Tea can stain your teeth, and milk prevents this

Just like coffee, tea can stain your teeth. Darker varieties such as black tea has been especially culpable for staining, and it has been said that the darker your tea, the more likely your teeth will stain. This is mainly caused by the tannins in the tea that make it easier for stains to stick onto your teeth.  A recent study has found that adding a little milk to your tea can significantly help to prevent stains. This is because the milk proteins act as a binding agent to the tannins, and this prevents these tannins from ending up in your teeth. So if you’re worried about keeping those pearly whites bright and shiny, add a little milk to your tea!



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