A Soothing Cup of Tea
By YE CHA & Qing Cha
Tea is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. This simple and unique combination of boiled water and dried leaves has been a revered drink for thousands of years. Tea offers a multitude of health benefits for both body and mind. All over the world, people are drinking their way to calmness and relaxation. There are varieties of tea to satisfy a plethora of wants: tea that gives you a much-needed boost every morning, tea that soothes a sore throat or an upset tummy, and tea that simply delights the senses.
The best-known ingredient in tea is catechins, which are antioxidants. They prevent cell-damaging oxidation, as well as support healthy metabolism and guard against the effects of stress. These benefits in turn decrease blood lipids and blood pressure, prevent arteriosclerosis, combat blood viscosity, and prevent blood clot formation. It is generally believed that green and white teas are richest in catechin content.
Theanine, another bioactive element found in tea, has psychoactive properties and the ability to reduce mental and physical stress, improve mood, and sharpen cognitive abilities. Two other stimulants, theobromine and theophylline, also offer benefits. The former has a mild diuretic effect and improves blood flow throughout the body, while the latter relaxes the muscles in the airway, making breathing easier.
Green tea’s high content of polyphenols, which include catechins, theaflavins, tannins, and flavonoids, have substantial free-radical scavenging power and may protect against DNA damage.
There are many types of tea: green, white, oolong, and black tea. All are harvested from the same plant species: Camellia sinensis. What makes each tea different is the geography and conditions in which it was grown and the way it has been processed. Each type of tea has its own unique color, taste and aroma.
Green tea is the least oxidized during processing, thus retaining its green color. Hence, it contains the greatest amount of antioxidants. White tea is the least processed of all teas and releases the lowest amount of caffeine. Oolong tea falls somewhere in between green and black teas, as it is partially oxidized.
As for black tea, it fully oxidizes during processing. Oxidation gives the tea leaves their dark color. The pu-erh family of teas is one of the most famous true black teas. The tea is fermented and then undergoes prolonged storage, or “aging,” under high humidity. The longer it is stored, the better its taste.
Alternative Drink for Kids
There is an abundance of teas which are low in caffeine or contain no caffeine, making them perfect for kids. While technically not true teas in that they are not from the Camellia sinensis plant, many herbal varieties can offer a soothing boost, from lowering anxiety levels to treating colic, cough, fever, and constipation. When children get overexcited, giving them an aromatic and calming cup of tea may just help them to get centered. For instance, chamomile is known to be a great remedy capable of calming and settling hyper or angry children. Another great choice is fruit-based teas, which are healthful alternatives to fruit juice. Choosing the right type of tea is part of the pleasure of drinking tea.
When giving tea to a child, it is important to keep in mind the following:
Steep tea for only two to four minutes, as a weaker brew is more suited to young palates. Dilute with additional water if necessary.
Serve tea which is considerably cooler than normal, preferably at lukewarm or room temperature.
Tea drinking has been culturally engrained into the daily lives of people around the world for centuries. In addition to being a comforting and pleasant beverage, it also gives a wide range of remarkable positive health effects. So go ahead and brew a cup of tea to enjoy with young and old alike.