Spilling the Tea (On Tea)

An introduction to the varieties and benefits a cold weather favourite

Sanjana Sharma, Staff Writer

 

Sourced from Flickr.com from user Abayburina

Although having been familiar with tea for many years on hand, it was because of my father that I started drinking tea. Soon, green tea became a ritual because of its health benefits like prevention against cancer and I never left the habit despite its unsavoury kick of bitterness. As winter crept in this December, I visited my professor and learned more about different teas, their benefits, and the comfort that comes with their brewing. I was so fascinated that I ended up buying four different types of tea.

 

Originally a Chinese beverage, tea has found its way across the globe with its refreshing and aromatic qualities. With so many types of tea available over the counter today, finding the perfect tea for a good first experience can be gruelling.

In technical terms, tea comes from the shrub Camellia Sinensis, and what distinguishes white, green, and black tea is in the way the plant’s leaves are processed.

According to endocrineweb, 78 percent of the tea consumed worldwide is black. Its health benefits speak for its popularity as it has the highest concentration of caffeine. It can help with alertness, improve digestion, relieve stress and asthma, and increase bone density.

Black tea is stronger than white and green tea, and is sometimes consumed with milk. One of the tea beverages — chai tea — is gaining popularity in coffee and tea shops around the world. Chai tea comes from India, which is why it’s usually called “Indian chai” or “masala chai” (“chai” is a Hindi word that translates to “tea”). It is made by brewing black tea leaves with additional spices like cinnamon and cardamom, to which milk and sugar are added according to preference.

Chai Station, a stall relatively new to the Thunder Bay Country Market is an initiative to introduce the city to the real Indian chai. Selling a variety of authentic, handmade Indian tea, Sabah Rahmath, the proprietor of the business venture that began in November, told The Argus that she used to go to the Country Market a lot, and thought it would be a good idea to bring in something Indian. She started out with simple cardamom-flavoured chai and saw the first couple of weeks go really well. She says, “People were really curious to know about it [chai]. They liked the idea and were supportive.” She also said that on some days, it got really busy, and she started making larger quantities of the soothing beverage. She also noted that some people who didn’t like chai before started liking it when she gave them samples to try. “It’s very different from the chai tea they sell in coffee shops,” she tells her customers. Into the new year, Rahmath introduced other spices like cinnamon and ginger as well. Currently, she is experimenting on making dairy-free chai due to multiple requests. If you’re looking forward to trying some good tea, Chai Station is a good place to start.

Green tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols. It also reduces risks of cancer (National Cancer Institute), heart diseases, strokes, and other ailments (Journal of the American Medical Association). It is also shown to enhance memory and prevent Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s Society).

Each sip of green tea brings about a detoxifying effect to your body. If you don’t like its bitter taste, we do seem to have an antidote for that too: the bitterness of any tea depends upon how long you brew it for. So, the less that you brew your tea, the less bitter it will be. You can also add sweeteners like sugar or honey to make it taste sweeter.

White tea is the most effective out of the three types of tea in killing bacteria, viruses and fungi in the body. Other benefits include anti-aging properties, prevention of skin from the effects of ultraviolet rays, and improvement in oral health. White tea is lighter, more delicate in taste than green tea, which makes it a good option to try for people who enjoy mild beverages.

The best thing about tea is that you can always alter the ingredients or process to your preferences. So, give it a try and dare to spice up your experience!