• NoBS Wellness™ Team

Thirsty? You Should Drink Some Tea!

I have never been a fan of coffee no matter how much sugar, milk or flavorings I put in it. To be fair, I’ve only ever tried to drink coffee three or four times, hated it, and never attempted to acquire the taste. I likely wouldn’t have fallen in love with tea either if it hadn’t been for studying abroad in China. There they serve green tea like we serve water in our restaurants, and so I came to enjoy the taste. But it wasn’t until five years later that I truly incorporated tea into my lifestyle when a tea shop opened near where I lived. Remembering my time in China and how tea had grown on me while I was there, I decided to take an hour-long tea class that the shop hosted once a month. It was in this class that I learned the intricacies of tea: choosing it, (properly) brewing it, and drinking it. And let me tell you, if you don’t like tea, you’ve probably been doing it all wrong. In the rest of this post, I’m sharing the main things you need to know to make a cup of tea you’ll LOVE so you can start reaping the benefits of drinking tea.

A Crash Course in Tea

Even if you don’t nerd out on the history and science of food like I do, tea is fascinating. For instance, did you know that black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea and matcha all come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis? They are “different” in taste and health benefits depending on when the leaves of the plant are harvested and how those leaves are processed. On the other hand, herbal teas and rooibos tea (lesser known, but growing in popularity) aren’t really teas at all in the sense that they don’t come from the “tea” plant. (If you’re getting technical, they are called tisanes, but I digress.) Enough on that -- let’s get into some of the research-backed health benefits of my favorite teas.

  • Black tea: If you are looking for caffeine in your tea (to potentially replace coffee or a sugary energy drink), this one packs the biggest punch when it comes to caffeine. With the caffeine, you are also getting flavonoids that help fight inflammation and support your immune system. Plus, black tea has also been used topically to help heal cuts, bruises, and skin rashes.

  • Green tea: Like all of the teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant, green tea is high in flavonoids, which serve as anti-inflammatories in the body. Several studies have also shown that green tea lowers blood pressure, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. So drink up to protect your heart!

  • White tea: This tea has the highest level of antioxidants of all the types as it is the least processed. These antioxidants protect your cells against free radicals, which in turn helps protect against disease.

  • Matcha: In case you didn’t know it, matcha is a form of green tea in which you consume the entire leaves (in powdered form). This means you get all of the benefits of green tea with a bigger boost of antioxidants because you are consuming the full leaves.

  • Rooibos tea: I’ve been finding lately that a lot of the herbal teas I love include rooibos as one of the plants in the mix. For me, the big wins of rooibos are that it lowers bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol (I am genetically predisposed to high bad cholesterol) as well as strengthens hair and revitalizes skin.

  • Peppermint tea: This tea has been used for centuries for stomach issues like nausea, constipation, and general upset stomach. It’s also great for headache relief.

  • Chamomile tea: My personal favorite before bed, and it’s supported by research that shows it promotes relaxation and stress reduction. We also heard in our episode on dreams that it’s great to enhance your ability to dream while you sleep.

  • Hibiscus tea: After learning about its use in Ayurveda, I started to drink this tea daily. Turns out it’s great for overall liver health, staving off cravings for sweets, and lowering blood pressure.

How to Properly Brew Tea

When I learned that different teas require different water temperatures and steeping times, my mind was blown. Turns out that if your tea tastes bitter or burnt, that was your fault for using too hot of water. And if your tea tastes weak, you didn’t steep it long enough. Don’t be overwhelmed; I’ve broken it down for you in what you need to do to brew the perfect cup.

Black tea:

  • Boil the water and let the water sit for 30 seconds before steeping the tea leaves.

  • Steep the tea leaves for 3-5 minutes (depending on how strong a taste you want.)

Green tea:

  • Boil the water and let the water sit for 2 minutes before steeping the tea leaves.

  • Steep the tea leaves for 2-3 minutes.

White tea:

  • Boil the water and let the water sit for 2 minutes before steeping the tea leaves.

  • Steep the tea leaves for 1-3 minutes.

Oolong tea:

  • Boil the water and let the water sit for 1 minute before steeping the tea leaves.

  • Steep the tea leaves for 2-3 minutes.

Herbal tea (including rooibos):

  • Boil the water and steep the tea immediately.

  • Steep for 4-5 minutes minimally. Herbal teas can steep longer if you want a more robust flavor or want to extract more of the herbs beneficial properties. This is the only tea type that isn’t ruined by steeping for longer.

How I've Made Tea Part of My Lifestyle

Like those coffee lovers with their french presses and pour overs, I’ve become a bit of a tea connoisseur. Since I don’t drink coffee, I have tea in the morning when I want a hot drink. I brew flavorful herbal teas to keep in a pitcher in my fridge so I can have iced tea. While I have no problem drinking water, teas are great for adding flavor, and the beneficial properties of the plants in the tea, with no added sugar. Before bed, I love having a chamomile tea to help me relax. Long story short, the variety of teas out there is so vast that you can find a tea for you for pretty much any occasion. I think my biggest recommendation is to keep trying different teas until you find the ones you like; don’t give up because of one bad cup of tea.

Final Thoughts

So I can’t help myself and need to add a few additional tea facts. If you aren’t all that interested, at least read the first one because it will help you in selecting higher quality teas.

  • Tea tastes best when it is steeped in a way to let the leaves unfurl/open up to release their flavors. I know it sounds weird, but high quality teas from the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) are processed in a way that the leaves are rolled up (not cut up). Loose leaf tea is the best option when looking to buy tea. Second best is looking for tea bags constructed in a pyramid shape so the tea has room to open up within the bag.

  • The classic tiny paper tea bags are the worst for allowing you to brew a tasty cup of tea. Not only do the tea leaves not have room to unfurl, but the tea in these are often the shavings and leftovers from processing the tea leaves for other things.

  • Tea naturally absorbs moisture so you want to ensure you store your tea in a sealed container and preferably away from heat.

  • While it varies for each type, it is generally understood that tea can last up to two years when stored properly.

  • Many tea bags contain plastic. If you want the convenience of a tea bag, do your research before buying tea bags to ensure they don’t have plastic.

  • Always use fresh water when making tea. You want to avoid boiling the water more than once as oxygen is lost from the water when it’s re-boiled and affects the flavor of the tea.

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