Did you know that, despite the fact that there are over 1500 varieties of tea, all true teas come from the same plant, the Camellia Sinensis? The variation in flavours and aromas actually just comes from the way the tea is produced.
We realise that one article is unlikely to convert you into an ex-coffee-addict-turned-tea-enthusiast but we are hoping that, by the end of this post, you’re at least intrigued by the magical world of tea exploration. Our (not-so-subtle) encouragement does have your best interest at heart since the regular consumption of tea actually offers an array of benefits:
1. Increases metabolism
You might be surprised to learn that tea actually promotes the production of fat. But wait! Before you swear off tea for life let us explain what is meant by that. It promotes the production of brown fat. As opposed to white fat (the bad kind), brown fat is more metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories. Building up your brown fat actually reduces your overall body fat in the long run - counterintuitive, I know, but it works.
Best teas for metabolic boosts: black, oolong, or green tea.
2. It’s full of antioxidants
Antioxidants have a number of benefits. They fight inflammation, reducing the risk of pretty much all chronic diseases, such as diabetes and even cognitive decline. Research into the effect of EGCG (a powerful antioxidant) in cancer patients shows improved outcomes for cancers of the breast, lungs, colon, and skin among others. It also seems to delay the onset of cancer in regular tea drinkers.
Best teas for antioxidants: green tea.
3. Source of L-Theanine
L-Theanine is an amino acid which relaxes the central nervous system and promotes alpha brain wave activity. Yeah, those words mean nothing to us either. But what we DO understand is that this means lower anxiety levels, helping us feel more relaxed. Hence why tea has been associated with zen and meditation for centuries. L-Theanine is almost exclusively found in the Camellia Sinensis plant. This is why a cup of tea in the evening after a long day can be a great stress-reliever. Especially when combined with some aromatherapy and a hot bath... *sigh*
Best tea for L-Theanine: green tea.
4. Great for cognitive function
The combination of caffeine and L-Theanine in tea improves reaction time, visual processing, memory AND concentration. It even changes the way your brain is organised for more efficient information processing. By boosting memory and increasing attention span, tea can prevent cognitive decline. Research also confirms that drinking tea improves cognitive scores among those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Best teas for improved cognitive function: green and black tea.
5. It’s a better source of caffeine than coffee
The caffeine in coffee causes a huge surge in energy and then an inevitable crash. It can also cause side effects in a lot of people including insomnia, agitation, upset stomach, and increased heart rate. Tea, on the other hand, offers a slow release of caffeine, providing a steady energy boost which helps to avoid a crash. As mentioned above, L-Theanine paired with the caffeine helps to increase focus and attention rather than making the individual jittery and restless the way coffee can.
Best teas for a caffeine boost: matcha or black tea.
Now you know why you should drink tea, but you may still be thinking “it tastes like grass, and not even the flavourful kind”. This is most likely due to the fact the only tea you’ve ever tried is the poor quality kind that comes in tea bags. The best tip we can give you when starting out your tea journey is to use high quality loose leaf tea. For this you will need to invest in a strainer (trust me, a sieve is not good enough - you will still be choking on little bits of debris… speaking from experience).
The tea in tea bags is made up of low tea grades, such as dust and fannings. These are smaller pieces of tea which have a larger surface area than the whole-leaf or loose-leaf versions. The large surface area means more opportunities for the essential oils (flavourful components) to evaporate, leaving a dull and stale taste. This is accentuated when tea is left in the cupboard for months on end until you go through another ‘detox’ phase.
Loose leaf teas are left to steep in a teapot before serving, allowing more room for the tea leaves to absorb water and expand as they infuse. Water flows through the leaves and extracts a wide range of vitamins, minerals, flavours, and aromas. When steeping tea in a teabag, its infusion is limited by the small size of the teabag, meaning it won’t yield a very flavourful cup. Loose leaf tea may sound like a lot more hassle than your standard tea bag but that’s where the portable tea infuser comes in to ensure you’ll never have to compromise on taste or on quality.
As a newbie, your best way of discovering which tea suits your taste is to buy a sample pack so that you can try a wide range without any wastage. You may also wish to compare and contrast two brands of the same tea before making a decision since flavour can differ greatly depending on quality and manufacturing. But remember, the healthiest kind of tea is the one that you actually want to drink. Don’t force yourself to drink a tonne of matcha if you find it tastes fishy (or perhaps that’s just me).
The value of tea is not only in its health benefits but also the social role it plays in many cultures around the world. Tea’s role as a relaxant makes it the perfect drink for intimate social gatherings with friends. And what better way to enjoy time with friends than over a fancy afternoon tea party with sweet treats and pretty sandwiches?! Check out our current homeware promotion to buy everything you need for the most beautiful tea party.