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Tea is an aromatic beverage originated in China (as a medicinal drink) prepared with the leaves of the tea plant Camellia sinensis. Although there are a lot of herbal infusions or tisanes sometimes called herbal teas, purists consider tea only green tea, black tea (called red tea in China), white tea, oolong tea, and Pu-Erh tea. The reason is that, although they are also herbal infusions, they do not contain the Camellia sinensis plant. Some examples of this type of herbal infusions are rosehip tea, mate tea or rooibos tea.
The traditional method of brewing a cup of tea is to place tea leaves into a teapot or teacup and pour boiled water over the leaves. After a few minutes (depending on the tea variety), the leaves are removed (you can remove the infuser or filter the tea with a strainer while serving).
Also, you can vary a number of tea leaves to change the strength of the tea, but you should not vary the steeping time. Although the amount of tea used per amount of water differs from tea to tea, the basic recipe is using 1 teaspoon of tea for each teacup of water.
Besides, the container in which you will prepare your tea should be warmed previously, so that the tea does not get cold too quickly. To do it, add a small amount of boiling water to the container, swirl it briefly and then discard it.
Here you have the main medicinal uses and varieties of tea.
- Black tea
Black tea has the highest caffeine content. Also, studies have shown that this variety of tea may protect lungs from damage caused by cigarette smoke and reduce the risk of stroke.
Some of the most common varieties of black tea include Assam, Nepal, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Turkish and Ceylon teas.
- Green tea
Green tea has a high concentration of EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), which is the most abundant catechin in tea and is a potent antioxidant. These antioxidant properties may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers.
They also prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce the risk of stroke and neurological disorders (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases), and improve cholesterol levels.
Some of the most common varieties of green tea are Gyokuro and Dragonwell.
- White tea
White tea is proved to have the most potent anticancer properties, compared to other processed teas.
There are four main varieties of this tea: Silver Needle (the most famous white tea), White Peony, Long Life Eyebrow, and Tribute Eyebrow.
- Oolong tea
The antioxidant properties of oolong tea can lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of this type of tea is Wuyi, which is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement. Other common oolong teas are the Monkey Picked Oolong tea and Maharaja Chai Oolong tea.
Note that high-quality oolong can be brewed multiple times and it improves with reuse. It is common to brew the same leaves 3-5 times, and the third steeping is usually considered the best.
- Pu-erh tea
Pu-erh tea is made from fermented and aged leaves. It has been proved that this tea reduces weight and LDL cholesterol. Some people prefer to rinse Pu-erh tea leaves for several seconds with boiling water to remove tea dust accumulated from the aging process.
Here you have a table in which you can see the appropriate water temperature and steep time for each tea:
|Type of tea||Water temperature||Steep time (minutes)||Ingredients|
|Black tea||210 °F||2–3||1½ teaspoon loose tea8 oz water|
|Green tea||167-176 °F||1–2||1 teaspoon loose tea8 oz water|
|Oolong tea||176-185 °F||2–3||1½ teaspoon loose tea8 oz water|
|Pu-erh tea||203-212 °F||Limitless||1 teaspoon loose tea8 oz water|
|Tisanes/herbal teas||210 °F||3–6||1½ teaspoon loose tea8 oz water|
|White tea||149-158 °F||1–2||1½ teaspoon loose tea8 oz water|
|Yellow tea||158-167 °F||1–2||1 teaspoon loose tea8 oz water|
Note that many herbal teas taste great when iced.
To make herbal iced teas, you should double the amount of tea used, but steep with the same hot water temperature and steep time as if you were making a hot tea. Then pour the tea into a cup almost full of ice.