The First Steep in Your Tea Journey: The Different Forms of Tea and their Benefits
If you were to go to your local grocery store to the tea aisle, you will see dozens of different teas from green to black to white to herbals. They can be every flavor that you can imagine and each will say that they can help with some ailment or another. Looking at all of the options, a person can’t help, but wonder which type is better than the other. What makes each tea so different?
Legends state that tea was created by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737 BC as he meditated under a tree with a cup of boiled water. When a leaf of the tree, now known as Camellia Sinensis, feel into the cup, it began to steep and when the emperor drank from the cup he became refreshed and the cup of tea was born.
Since then, tea has been given many faces, but most teas all stem from the same type of tree. The differences in grade (white, green, yellow, oolong, and black) all have to do with the way the tea is processed which can differ even more depending on the country.
White tea is the purest form tea. Mostly grown in China, the highest form of this grade of tea is called mao feng meaning the growers have to wait for two leaves to bloom and one bud to appear before picking the tea. It is known as the purest form of tea because there is very little done to white tea after it is picked. Producers simply dry the leaves, giving white tea a light color and flavor as well as preserving most of the natural nutrients. White tea is also commonly used for skin and antioxidants and extracts for white tea can sometimes be found in popular natural beauty products.
Green tea is a little more complicated due to the fact that it’s process changes depending on its country of origin. Chinese green tea is pan-fried, giving the tea a slightly nutty, smoky flavor to it. Korean green tea can also have a smoky flavor. The Jeju Islands, an area rich in volcanic soil, is a perfect location to grow tea in Korea.
Japanese green tea is arguably one of the healthiest forms of green tea since it goes through a steaming process that helps keep it right in nutrients. One of their best is called Gyokuro Imperial and was exclusive to the Emperor of Japan up until the last few decades. It is shade grown the last month before it is harvested so it is rich in chlorophyll, which can help promote iron in the body and cleansing.
Others in Japan also prefer ceremonial matcha to their healthy lifestyle. Matcha is a Japanese powdered green tea that can be mixed with other teas, smoothies, baked goods, or enjoyed on its own. The difference between matcha and a regular green tea is the fact that you are drinking the actual tea leaf rather than the essence of the leaf. This way, you are able to receive the benefits as well as the caffeine of the tea more directly. It makes for the perfect, healthy replacement for your espresso shot in the morning.
Oolong is a tea normally found in China and is one of the lesser known tea grades on the scale. However, it is used by many for its ability to help with digestion and promote your metabolism. It’s also one of the more floral teas. It normally goes through a bruising process before going through a partial oxidation process, which helps in its ability as a detox tea as well.
Black tea, probably the most recognized flavor of tea, goes through a full oxidation process which gives the tea a high amount of caffeine. This form of tea is darker in flavor and is many times that slightly bitter tea that is famous in English breakfast, earl grey, and even Lipton tea bags. Black tea is made from countries all over the world from China to Taiwan to India, Rwanda, and Kenya. It is used in moderation by some who believe that it can help heart health and your cardiovascular system. In some cases, black tea even goes through a fermentation process, left to age just as beer or by mold like kombucha. This form of tea is considered by many to be low quality, but has a rich history of traveling trade routes around the world for long voyages.
While these four types of tea are the most well known in western culture, there are many alternative forms of tea. The rarest would be a yellow tea, which is a grade between white and green teas and goes through a unique slow roasting process in China. The most popular alternative are herbals. Herbal teas can be categorized in more ways than the more “traditional” teas, but the main point is that they do not possess a camellia sinensis base. They are a blend of different herbs and flowers in order to achieve a specific flavor or benefit.
Overall, tea has many benefits if it is incorporated into a daily lifestyle. It possesses vitamins and nutrients to help when you are sick. It is a fantastic alternative to coffee. With the right blend, it can even be a sweet treat to help one curb their appetite. It can take a while to understand the full history and art that is tea making, but the benefit of that knowledge to your health is worth the journey. It just starts with the first steep.
Posted for Westchase Chiropractic and Wellness.