Tea. If you are like me, most of you have a fleeting relationship with the drink. My relationship has consisted of taking shots of fancy tea store samples at the mall, the childhood tea party, and chugging tea when I’m sick. But, I can’t help but be jealous of any tea guru I meet. They just seem so cool– so zen. And I can’t ignore all of the articles I see lauding the major health benefits of tea. So I gave myself a goal: learn everything I could about tea and find my new favorite teas all in one week. And here is what I learned:
So is it even good for?
I’ve always figured tea was healthy, because it is like drinking the nutrients straight from a plant, right? But I wanted to find the science to back my made up theories. An article by Aaron Carroll for the NY Times took a serious look at tea studies and found that tea has been linked to a lower risk of liver disease, depression, stroke, coronary heart disease, cardiac death, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes.
TIME Magazine even reported that tea can boost exercise endurance, protect against UV rays, fight free radicals, and help keep you trim. So, drink up.
What’s the history?
Tea goes way back. Legend has it that in 2737 B.C., Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting under a Camellia Sinensis tree while his servant boiled water. Some leaves from that tree fell into the water, and that’s how we got tea. While we don’t know if that’s true, China has indeed been way ahead of the tea curve. Tea containers have even been found in tombs dating back to 200 B.C., and in 600 A.D. The drink became the official drink of China. It wasn’t until the 1600s that Europe picked up on the tea trend, and although the history is fraught with controversy (think, Boston Tea Party), tea eventually made it worldwide.
Which country consumes the most tea?
China takes first place with 1.6 billion pounds of tea consumed per year. However, when it comes to tea consumed per person, Turkey, Ireland, and the U.K. take the top prize. Check out the full list here. Plus overall, tea is the most consumed drink in the world behind water.
Can I still throw a tea party?
I didn’t grow up attending coffee parties, I went to tea parties. So, I think it’s time to do like the British and throw more tea parties. It doesn’t need to be stuffy. Throw some pillows on the floor. Turn on this playlist. Put some mismatched mugs down (ideas here). Make some dainty finger foods (here or here). And just chat as you sip away. May I recommend having an assortment of tea to please all guests. But more on that later.
Tea or coffee?
Don’t get us wrong, we love coffee. But unless you are drinking straight black coffee (bully for you), most of our coffee drinks come packed with sugars, additives, syrups. But tea is nearly always drank au naturale. Plus, when it comes to studying, science proves that tea wins over coffee. Reason being? Coffee’s caffeine causes a major boost and crash cycle, good in the short run, bad in the long run. But tea’s three extra ingredients (Theophylline, Theobromine, and L-Theanine) act on their own to emit a mild and steady buzz that can carry you through those late night study (or Netflix) sessions. Read here to find out more.
Black? Green? How many types of tea are there, and what do they mean?
Pure tea can be broken down into four major categories: black, green, white and oolong.
Black: One of the most popular Western teas, black tea is characterized by a bold, aromatic flavor that is full-bodied and usually heavier on the caffeine. Think earl grey, English breakfast, and chai.
Green: Green tea goes through a gentle cultivation process and is characterized by a light, natural taste that is sometimes grassy. Light caffeine level. Think matcha and gunpowder.
White: Made from the youngest leaves, white teas are the lightest and most delicate of the teas. Low on the caffeine, but sweet and fragrant. Think of teas usually flavored with a fruity or citrus taste.
Oolong: Most common in China or in Chinese restaurants, this the most diverse of tea types. Oolong teas typically have a bold color and floral aroma with a decent amount of caffeine. But can also be fruity, rich, dark or even smoky. Think iron buddha of ali shan.
Herbal: Herbal tea is not technically a pure tea, but still packs similar taste and health benefits. Herbal teas are made of a blend of herbs, spices, and plants, and thus usually don’t contain caffeine. These teas can be especially useful during a cold. Think peppermint, chamomile, and lemon.
I’m a college kid, what tea do I reach for?
Sure, we could always get fancy, but as a college student, I have little time or money to spend on large tubs of designer loose leaf tea complete with all of the extra accessories. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have delicious tea quickly and cheaply. I tried out Lipton‘s new and improved herbal, green and black teas, and discovered that the tea experience has majorly changed. Much like coffee, tea has majorly diversified and this is no longer just your grandma’s black tea. Here are my favorites:
My mood booster: orange passionfruit jasmine (green tea)
Lipton has always made green tea, but now the updated flavors are have a light, fresh taste, bright clearer color and delightful aroma. My favorite happens to be the orange passionfruit jasmine. Fruity and awakening, I happily drank this tea hot or iced and felt no need to add in sugar. Plus, the pretty gold color makes for a seriously pretty photo.
My morning pick-me-up: lemon ginger (herbal tea)
Real ingredients such as ginger root, lemongrass, and orange peel mix with the herbal tea for a seriously sense-awakening sip. It’s fruity with some zing and by far a light and more refreshing way to start my morning than with coffee.
My winter favorite: enticing chai (black tea)
This was not your traditional black tea. The bold aroma and enticing flavor were a serious lifesaver on my cold walks to class. This tea felt like a coffee-shop level surprise. Drink it plain or add a little vanilla cream and cinnamon for a special treat.
Find your fit and see all of Lipton’s new teas here.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.