Tea for Health -- and More

March 15, 2019
Green Tea

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After water, tea (Camellia sinesis) is the world’s most popular beverage. 

You’ve no doubt seen references to the research suggesting that tea, especially unfermented (green) tea, may deliver many health benefits.

Researchers say that regular tea-drinking (2 to 3 cups per day) may help lower cholesterol, manage blood sugar, promote weight loss, protect against several forms of cancer, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.

Applied topically, tea can relieve the discomfort of rashes, stings, and hemorrhoids, and may help to reduce acne flareups.

Why green tea?
 The “fermentation” (actually oxidation) processes that yield the many other forms of tea deepen and alter the flavors of the leaves, but they also remove some of the plant compounds (“phytocompounds”) that deliver tea’s health benefits.

Which tea? Which form?
Once you begin delving into the subject of tea, it’s easy to get confused. Will it be loose (thick or thin?), powdered, bagged, brewed and bottled? Chai, citrus, or jasmine? A green-tea extract? A tincture, a pill, a syrup, or a soda? What about a snack

Whoa!

Why not start by brewing some loose green tea leaves from a specialty or health-food store near you. If you live near an Asian market, you’ll have a much larger choice. Buy small quantities and store them in airtight containers in the freezer to maintain their flavor and potency.

By the way, if you want to maximize the health benefits of tea, drink it without milk. Proteins in the milk decrease the concentration of many of tea’s beneficial phytocompounds. 

How to brew
Add a teaspoon of tea leaves to a cup of hot water. It’s your choice whether to steep the leaves in a tea ball or other container, or strain them after they’ve steeped. Some people even leave the tea leaves in and consume them along with the liquid.

The hotter the water (closer to boiling) and the longer the steeping, the more healthful plant compounds the water will extract. However, since some of these compounds are bitter, many tea lovers prefer a briefer steeping time for their sipping teas.

Tea in cooking
What about liberating tea from the beverage category and using the leaves themselves in cooking? Many books on the market delve into the science and art of cooking with tea.

Try adding strong tea as an ingredient in meat or poultry marinades, soups, stocks, and gravies. Or try adding the re-constituted leaves themselves to omelets, soups, or stir fries. Think of them as a leafy vegetable. Eating them adds nutrients and fiber to the medicinal punch this plant delivers.

A few other uses for tea

  • The astringent properties in tea called tannins make it a natural skin toner. Helps acne, too.
  • Used as a final rinse, tea conditions and restores shine to hair.
  • Dry tea leaves absorb odors as well as baking soda. Leave a few bags in the fridge, or drop some into shoes, pocketbooks, and cars.
  • Strong tea left in cooking pots overnight will remove burned-on food and stains.
  • Cool tea sponged onto skin offers relief from poison ivy, hives, or insect bites.

For centuries, Asian cultures have used the gentle rituals of tea ceremonies for social, religious, and spiritual purposes.  Here’s a description of how a modern physician adapts the ancient ceremony to his daily life. 

Finally, you might want to have some fun exploring the art of tasseology—reading the tea leaves to predict the future.

 

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.