Wholesome, Delicious Varieties of Tea!

Monday, 29. August 2016

Wholesome, Delicious Varieties of Tea!

No other beverage comes in such a huge variety as tea. Besides having top-notch varied tastes, teas are also good for your health.

Many different types of products today can be called teas. These products are often served as an infusion in hot water. Teas consist of different parts of plants. Depending on the plant, its leaves, buds, flowers, stems, bark or even roots are used for the tea.

Only drinks that are made with real plants can be considered classic teas. In the 18th century, infusions of herbs and fruits were also referred to as teas in Germany. Other countries have their own name for it.

Let's look at the different kinds of teas in more detail:

Tea

Classic tea was drunk as a luxury item in Asia for a long time. The first tea came to Europe in the 17th century. Previously, only fresh tea leaves were used in making tea, which had the disadvantage as the leaves spoiled very quickly. Therefore teas began to be produced in a controlled fermentation and drying process to make them more durable. 

Tea production is traditionally done in five steps. First, the harvested tea leaves are allowed to wither so that they are soft. Then they are rolled up, to break the leaves and release the essential oils. They are screened for different levels of quality and are oxidized (or not) and then dried.

Depending on the starting material and procedure, there are four forms of classical tea. These differ in their respective degree of oxidation:

  • Green Tea: This tea is not oxidized.
  • White tea: No oxidation takes place. Only young shoots can be used for white tea.
  • Oolong: Partial oxidation takes place under controlled conditions.
  • Black tea: This tea is fully oxidized.

Tea always contains caffeine, some teas even contain up to 5%. This is much more caffeine than is contained in coffee beans. Since tea is infused with more water than coffee, the caffeine content in finished beverage ends up being less. 

Aside from caffeine, which some people don't tolerate well, tea has many beneficial effects. It contains many flavonoids and polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants. Regular tea consumption could have a positive effect on the blood vessels and may even reduce the risk of cancer. Green tea has now become a fashionable drink and its health effects are are well known. Black tea is just as healthy as green tea. The amount of flavonoids is virtually the same in both kinds of tea. 

Herbal Tea

Herbal teas have been used for over a thousand years as a remedy for many minor complaints. The history of herbal tea as a luxury product is very brief: about two hundred years.

Nevertheless, these teas offer many advantages. First, they do not contain caffeine, which is great for people who cannot tolerate this stimulant. Herbal teas have a number of other ingredients. The most important of these are the essential oils that give this tea its flavor. Herbs are full of essential oils that have many health-promoting effects. There are also a number of vitamins, trace elements, minerals and polyphenols found in teas. 

Herbal teas are cultivated mainly in eastern and southern Europe, Germany, China, Egypt and South America. Partially unique ingredients like lime or elderflowers are still collected in the wild.

To prolong your enjoyment of the full flavour of your herbal teas, you should store them in a dry, cool, dark place in an airtight vessel. Otherwise the teas lose their valuable ingredients over time.

Fruit Tea

Fruit teas are very varied in taste, so there is something for everyone. Some include only one variety of fruit, while some come in blends. Because there are virtually endless mixing possibilities, fruit teas have a flavor spectrum that ranges from fruity and floral to sweet and spicy.

Interestingly, it is still not possible to grow all the fruit used in teas. Rose hips, for example, still have to be hand picked. 

In the period after the Second World War, fruit teas became very popular. There were shortages of tea and coffee during this time and many local  fruits were simply used for infusion drinks.

Fruit teas are caffeine-free and have several healthy ingredients. These include essential oils, vitamins, minerals, etc. They should also be stored cool, dry, dark and airtight.