Tea is cheap and loaded with benefits,
Sean Drakes brews a cup of insight
Tea offers a flavorful experience unlike any other. Take the ruby-tinged, South African Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) tea. It is naturally caffeine-free and blends easily with fruits and other teas. Tea blends are expanding the tea drinking audience, which has led to reengineered marketing strategies that are patiently banishing the stuffiness associated with tea drinking. But those campaigns aren’t disclosing industry insights that might influence consumer buying of mass market product. Consumers should know there is more to tea than its caffeine-free quality.
HEALTHIEST DRINK: All teas have antioxidant qualities, meaning they prevent chemical damage to our cells. Very few drinks exceed the health benefits of loose-leaf tea: Black teas have properties that lower cholesterol; oolong teas are useful for treating diabetes and reducing blood sugar, green teas aid in fighting cancer, and white teas improve complexion. To reap the benefits of tea, drink four cups a day. To remove 70% of the caffeine in tea, brew by using an infuser, pour hot water over the leaves and discard that water, then brew your leaves with a second pour of hot water.
TIME THE BREW: A flat-bottom cast iron teapot will deliver your best cup of tea because it distributes heat more evenly than plastic or glass. Being exacting about brew times is a good habit: Black tea needs three-minutes-15-seconds, green tea requires two-minutes-45-seconds, after which the tannin (a chemical compound that supplies astringency) starts to release its bitter flavor. If green tea brews for three or four minutes, it becomes too bitter. White teas are not fermented, so brew them for five to seven minutes for a richer cup. Herbals are not true teas, so they get richer the longer they are brewed. Tea that is unused for 6 months might serve you better as a bath wash. Just place the leaves in a cheesecloth, tie it with string and drop it in your bathtub. But don’t try this with black tea, it will leave an unsightly bathtub ring.
Let the Tea Association of the USA quench your thirst for more insight on the tea industry. Some loose tea in a bag options you might want to investigate: Novus, Mighty Leaf Tea, Lipton long leaf teas, and master tea blender Harney & Sons.
© SEAN DRAKES
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