The power of tea

REFRESHING

The power of tea

According to the average Indian, a cup of tea is the cure to everything! Everything about a cuppa feels great, right from the aroma wafting through the kitchen when it’s brewing, to the very first sip one takes. Not only is a cup of tea absolutely delightful in taste, but it is also great for your health. And yet, the effects of tea on general health are overlooked to the point of being absolutely ignored.

Tea is traditionally had with milk. There’s a reason for this. Had by itself, milk increased the production of phlegm. This is why it’s best to add tea to your milk. Tea contains the antioxidants, i.e. the prowess to combat this. To add to it, one usually has tea with spices such as ginger, mint and cardamom. Ginger can fight the phlegm, while mint and cardamom are cooling. In sum, our regular chai, had with milk or without, is extremely healthy!  However, do remember that sugar is the unhealthy element in your tea. Replace it with jaggery, honey or stevia, a natural sweetener.

Apart from a variety of black teas, we even have a range of green teas available to us now. It is the latest mantra of losing weight.

Tea is basically an infusion made by steeping leaves, buds or twigs of the tea bush, in hot water for several minutes. The four basic types of true tea are black tea, oolong tea, green tea and white tea. The term ‘herbal tea’ usually refers to infusions of fruit or herbs that contain tea. 

We have been having black tea with milk for generations, but recently there has been an increase in awareness and popularity of the other varieties. Green tea and white tea are increasing in demand.  White tea is least processed, and is made out of the buds of the leaves. This means that most of its health properties are preserved. Likewise, processes during the preparation of green tea maintain the health benefits, such as antioxidants. Of course, the best kind of tea is organic – no matter what type it is.

There is another variety that people often confuse with tea. This is herbal infusion. These are also very nutritious and full of antioxidants, but they contain a range of herbs but no tea leaves.  A peppermint infusion, for instance, would contain peppermint leaves with, say, ginger or any other spice, but it will be without caffeine. Do not confuse these with flavoured teas. Flavoured teas are actual tea leaves which are infused with fruits, herbs or spices. Green tea is most commonly infused with various flavours such as chamomile, ginseng, honey, berries, fruits and the list is endless.

There are further twists to teas now; there are also different flavours, such as mint tea, lemon tea, tulsi tea and even those with various fruit flavours. Be it peach, orange, strawberry, blackcurrant or apple – teas are available in a host of varieties!

Fruit flavoured teas are a rich source of antioxidants. They are low in caffeine and usually contain no sugar. Fruit flavoured teas are best when they are fused with spices such as clove, cinnamon or ginger.
(The writer is a nutritionist)

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