Why is it that tea is healthy for us? and just to be very explicit when I say tea, I mean organic loose-leaf best quality you can get your hands on tea. So, unlike us animals that have the ability to run away from danger, a plant obviously cannot. Because it is stuck in one place it has to use other means in order to protect itself from things like UV-light, bugs and things that want to eat it. This protection comes from different kinds of polyphenols which are organic chemicals that have metabolic, toxic and therapeutic properties.
Two of the most well known polyphenols in tea are called catechin and flavonoids. They are very powerful antioxidants, and have been used in many studies for cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention. So the plant, in this case tea, builds up a good defense mechanism for the environment where it lives so it can be strong and healthy. By drinking extracts from the tea plant (or drinking the entire leaves as in Matcha) we reap all of the benefits of the plants polyphenols. Pretty clever having the plants do all the work and we simply drink the benefits. We are for sure not the first ones to use this method to heal ourselves though, our animal friends in the wild already knows to eat certain types of plants to heal themselves from parasites or kill bacteria.
“If we can learn from animals that have used medicinal plants for millions of years, and then look at what they use it for, then we could learn interesting things,” de Roode says.
Because each plant has a unique environment, it will build up a different combination of beneficial polyphenols, from plant to plant. This is true for tea but also for all other plants. That is why, lets say an apple that came from Sweden will taste different from an apple in Spain. They will also have a different polyphenol composition, even if it is the same type of apple. For this reason, it is very important to eat as many different types of vegetables and fruits as you can, to reap all of their different benefits and healing properties, and the same goes for drinking tea. Why limit yourself?
Some of my favorite healing teas are Green Tea, Matcha, Pu’Erh, Oolong, and Yerba Mate. Here is a great overview of what’s what. Of course there are plenty of herbal teas as well that are excellent for health, such as mint, olive leaf, fennel, nettle, ginger, and chamomile just to mention a few.
On a recent trip to Taiwan I had the opportunity to sample plenty of fantastic Oolong and Pu’Erh teas. The very best Oolong teas are all made in Taiwan and can only be bought in the country, as the locals are so fond of their oolong tea that they don’t want to export their top quality ones. I also had the chance to sample some really fancy old Pu’Erh teas from as far back as 1975! But, honestly I could not really tell a huge difference between the ages. What I did notice though was that the higher quality of the Pu’Erh, the sweeter and less earthy the taste.
We tend to be creatures of habit, so I would like to invite you to explore the amazing health benefits of drinking tea, and expand your tea horizon. Think of it as preventative and healing medicine that you can use daily. The next time you are out shopping, take the time to go into a proper tea shop and ask for help with finding a new tea. Just buy a small amount, and most important find out how you should brew your tea!
So many times I have friends who tell me that they don’t like drinking green tea, yet when they have it at my place they like it. That’s because a really high quality green tea should only be steeped in 70C for about 30s-1min. A lot of people leave it in a lot longer and/or use boiling water, and this makes the tea very bitter and quite nasty to drink. Don’t do that to yourself, or the tea!
Mixing teas has been known to be even more powerful – when the different organic chemicals interact their combined powers supersedes their individual ones. William Li mentions this is in his excellent TED talk “Can we eat to starve Cancer?“. Tim Ferriss is also a fan of mixing teas and below is one of his morning versions.
Because many teas does contain caffeine (a diuretic), it is important to drink some water in between tea cups to stay well hydrated. I wish you a lot of fun in exploring the healing world of teas.
Wishing you all lots of creativitea and claritea! 😉
Humilitea, Possibilitea, Qualitea, Solidaritea, Abilitea, Equalitea, Individualitea, Serenitea, Insanitea, Confidentialitea, Vitalitea, Creativitea, Sportea, Claritea, Realitea, Activitea, Longevitea, Impossibilitea, Familiaritea, Humanitea, Puritea, Levitea, Longevitea, Immunitea, Digestabilitea, Electricitea, Sensualitea, Femininitea, Festivitea…
~Letters to a Young Zentrepenur – The Republic of Tea