Tea is an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. After water, it is the next most consumed drink in the world. Tea originated in Southwest China, where it was used as a medicinal drink. It was popularized as a recreational drink during the Chinese tang dynasty, and tea drinking spread to other East Asian countries. Portuguese priests and merchants introduced it to Europe during the 16th century. During the 17th century, drinking tea became fashionable among Britons, who started large-scale production and commercialization of the plant in India to bypass the Chinese monopoly. The phrase “herbal tea” usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs made without the tea plant, such as steeps of rosehip, chamomile, or rooibos. These are also known as tisanes or herbal infusions to distinguish them from tea, as it is commonly understood.
Tea is generally divided into categories based on how it is processed. At least six different types are produced. White, yellow, green, oolong, black and post-fermented. Much flavouring is added to the variety of tea during processing. Among the best known are Chinese jasmine tea, Indian masala chai and earl grey tea. A great range of modern flavours have been added to these traditional ones such as lemon tea, roasted cumin tea, black salt, and ginger tea.
Tea may be consumed early in the day to heighten calm alertness. Decaffeinated brands are also sold. Tea ceremonies have arisen in different cultures, such as Chinese and Japanese traditions, each of which employ certain techniques and ritualised protocol of brewing and serving tea for enjoyment in a refined setting. In the United Kingdom, tea is consumed daily by a majority of people, and indeed is perceived as one of Britain’s cultural beverages. Turkish tea is an important part of that country’s cuisine and is the most commonly consumed hot drink.
Health benefits of tea
No matter what the season, tea can be a tasty beverage since it can be served iced or hot. Its benefits go far beyond refreshment. There is plenty of research showing that drinking tea can actually improve your health. We alredy know that tea can improve your skin and make you fit and trim; but did you know that it also does amazing things for your health?
- Reduced cortisol levels: cortisol is the stress hormone that contributes to belly fat and makes your skin age quicker. One recent study suggested four cups of tea per day may make your cortisol level spike less.
- Tea contains antioxidants; antioxidants work to prevent the body’s version of rust and thus help to keep us young and protect us from damage of pollution.
- Decreased risk of stroke and heart attack; drinking at least three cups of green or black tea per day results in a 21% reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke. Those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 32% reduction in the risk of having a heart attack and lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
- Anti-inflammatory; active compounds in tea can help lower levels of inflammation and inflammatory reactions. Inflammation is said to be connected to almost every modern ailment, including arthritis, metabolic syndrome and depression.
- Anti-allergen; tea may also reduce allergic response through quercetin, a flavonol naturally occurring in tea, which is known to mitigate histamine response. Yes, you can add locally produced honey to your tea to double-up the anti-allergy power.
- Improved overall health markers; tea drinkers tend to be healthier, which proves true in research too, as tea drinking correlates with better health outcomes. You can support your health, including your skin and body composition, with as few as 2-3 cups per day of this calorie-free, sugar-free drink; so join this growing health movement and start today exploring the novelty of tea.
- Reduced risk of dementia; to stay sharp, even as you age, drink tea, it is believed to lower the risk of dementia by acting through multiple pathways, including those of nerve synapses and blood sugar regulation.
- Blindness prevention; since tea contains high level of antioxidants, it is not surprising that studies have found them in eye tissue. In fact, drinking tea can help to prevent the blindness caused by cataracts (the clouding of the lens inside the eye).
- Tea may help with boosting the immune system; studies have shown that tea can tune up immune cells so they reach their targets quicker
- Tea has less caffeine than coffee; herbal blends have no caffeine, while traditional teas have less than 50% of what typically is found in coffee. That means you can consume it without those pesky effects on your nervous system.
By Umaru Maryam Hadejia