Tea, glorious tea. The most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. You've most likely tried it. In fact, you're either a regular tea drinker or you know someone who is. According to The Tea Association of The USA, tea can be found in almost 80% of all U.S. households and on any given day, over 158 million Americans are drinking tea.
Now, before we get into the science behind why tea is such a wonderful beverage and why you should be drinking it every day (if you're not already), let's start with the basics.
Where it all started: Historical records date tea drinking back to the Shang Dynasty (1500 BC-1046 BC) in the Yunnan province of China. Though recent physical evidence suggests the Chinese may have been consuming tea as early as the 10th century BC.
Where does it come from? Traditional tea (excluding herbal, flower, dried fruit, etc.) is made from the leaf of the plant Camellia sinensis. Green, black, white, oolong and pu'erh teas are all made from the same plant - their differences are realized through the harvesting, oxidation, steaming and rolling processes.
How do you make tea? There are many traditional methods of brewing tea, including various cultural tea ceremonies. Quite simply though, tea is prepared by straining tea leaves, herbs, flowers, dried fruit, etc. through [near] boiling water for several minutes. Doing so adds flavor, color and nutrients to the water.
What are the benefits? Asian cultures have been using tea for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. Compounds in tea have also been shown to improve brain function, increase fat burning, improve physical performance, lower risk of various diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Type II Diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Now if THAT doesn't convince you to start drinking tea every day...
This concludes the first part of our series on 'Everything you ever wanted to know about tea'. In our next instalment (part 2) we'll explain in more detail where tea is grown, how it is harvested and the processing stages.
Until then...drink some tea. :)
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