What is tea? Delicious hot or iced, a single type or an aromatic tea blend, with or without milk or sweetener, tea is a beloved beverage around the world. In fact, tea is the second most widely consumed drink worldwide, second only to water.
To many tea aficionados, the word "tea" refers only to tea from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), including black, pu-erh, oolong, green, and white teas.
All of these teas are from the same tea plant, but each is processed differently.
The Camellia sinensis tea plant is grown on tea estates in different countries around the world - China, Sri Lanka, Kenya, India, Japan, and more. These tea plantations share their teas with us, inviting us to experience exotic flavors, aromas, and locales we've only dreamed of.
And, for many of us, the answer to the question, "What is tea?", includes not only teas from the tea plant, but herbal teas or 'tisanes,' such as Rooibos, chamomile, and peppermint teas, as well.
Tea is made by adding freshly boiled or very hot water to loose or bagged tea, and then steeping the infusion for the desired amount of time (usually just a few minutes). While the amount of tea and steeping time are a matter of personal taste to the individual tea lover, each tea type has its unique suggested tea amounts, water temperatures, and brewing times. Learn more about making the perfect cup of tea here.
And the tea you've made can be enjoyed in countless ways - as a hot or iced beverage, in a tea latte or tea smoothie, and even added to sweet and savory dishes when you're cooking or baking.
What is tea? Not only soothing and aromatic, tea (hot or iced) can also boost your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Teas from the Camellia sinensis plant - black, green, pu-erh, oolong, and white teas - are recently of special interest to researchers, who are studying the many health benefits provided by these teas.
Although tea health benefits have been understood and valued for centuries in China, they are still relatively new to Western culture, and we are just beginning to appreciate how tea contributes much more to our lives than just a comforting, refreshing beverage.
Herbal teas provide a plethora of health benefits... Choose an herbal tisane to soothe a troubled tummy, ease a headache, chase away an impending flu or cold, and so much more. These teas, as well, are being targeted by researchers today, and scientists are confirming the age-old wisdom that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew and passed along to us through the generations.
We can experience tea's benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health in so many ways... From enjoying them as hot and cold beverages, to sharing a cup of tea and a chat with a good friend, to coloring tea illustrations in a Tea Coloring Book to relieve stress, and so much more.
Do keep in mind, although news about the health benefits of tea is everywhere lately, research is also telling us that tea can have certain risks or side effects, as well. Click here for more information about some of the potential side effects of tea.
Tea lovers are often concerned about caffeine in tea. While black, green, pu-erh, oolong, and white teas (all teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant) contain caffeine, herbal teas are naturally caffeine free (with the exception of yerba mate).
Healthcare providers recommend we consume no more than 200 - 400 mg caffeine each day so we can avoid potential caffeine side effects (such as insomnia, anxiety, and headaches). If you are monitoring the amount of caffeine in your diet, click here for some tips on figuring out how much caffeine is in your cup of tea.
What is tea to you? A soothing drink on a cold winter's night, a simple and natural way to promote health and healing, a tasty way to hydrate... or does it play many roles in your life?
Whether you are a tea aficionado or simply enjoy your favorite cup of tea for its comfort and flavor, you are one of the millions of lives that tea has changed and benefited through the centuries.