Black Tea: Vibrant History, Vibrant Health!
Caffeine’s reputation has been slandered a bit in recent years. Does our love of a black tea buzz have negative consequences for our health? Researchers at Harvard say no! As it turns out, in all it’s forms, tea has a positive impact on your overall well-being. So, if your preference is for a darker brew, go ahead and indulge.
Black tea has been a wildly popular beverage around the world, historically. Even now, in a coffee obsessed world, you'll be surprised to know that tea still ranks number one among popular beverages (other than water.) Some countries add spices and sweetener, others just a splash of milk. No matter how you choose to enjoy your brew, you will be receiving the benefit of polyphenols and antioxidants present in the leaves. Black tea contains active compounds that support healthy skin, teeth, bones, and organs.
Love Your Skin
The skin is the largest organ on the body. Keeping our skin healthy can be a challenge, especially when environmental pollutants, detergents and harsh products disrupt our skin’s natural pH balance and cause aging. Luckily, black tea’s got you covered. Magnesium helps to seal moisture into the skin cells. Potassium helps to protect natural elasticity. Zinc helps to rebuild fresh cells and heal wounds. If that wasn’t enough, manganese also helps increase collagen production! Whether you're dealing with acne or fine lines and wrinkles, the powerful mix of minerals in your cup of tea will help to manage your skin from the inside out.
Give Teeth To Your Smile
There is a common misconception that tea drinking has a negative impact on oral health. In actuality, researchers have shown quite the opposite! Theaflavins present in your cup of tea have antibacterial properties, and help to eliminate microbes responsible for bad breath and tooth decay. Naturally occurring fluoride present in tea also helps to strengthen enamel and protect teeth from erosion.
If You "Heart" Tea, Your Heart Will Thank You!
Patients with coronary heart disease showed positive results in tissue repair when they drank tea on a regular basis. Tea is a delicious way to strengthen this vital organ. Flavonoids found in a cup of black tea help to strengthen endothelial cells and may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
It's Hip To Sip
Tea drinkers are at a decreased risk for developing osteoporosis and hip fractures. A large scale study of women’s bone density showed significant differences between those who regularly indulge in a hot cuppa and those who abstain. Hip fractures can be devastating for elderly women, reducing mobility and independence. So, next time you’re sipping on your earl grey, know that you’re also protecting your skeleton!
Afternoon Low, Meet High Tea!
We all know the feeling, around 2 pm, when the brain starts to feel a little fuzzy and the eyes are starting to droop. History has it that the Duchess of Bedford (in the 1840s) created the perfect solution, a meal between lunch and dinner centered around a nice pot of black tea! This has become a bit less formal in the past 200 years, so no need to bust out the fancy China pots and crustless sandwiches. However, a nice mug of black tea in the afternoon can definitely lift your spirits and make your work day a little more enjoyable.
The Spice Is Nice
Chai has become one of the most popular varieties of tea, and you can now buy “chai tea” in every coffee shop and grocery store. But, what are the origins of this spicy sweet treat, now associated with lattes, cinnamon, and tea bags? Chai, in India, simply means “tea.” So, it is a bit redundant when we say “chai tea.” The spice blend is called “masala,” and can be any of a number of different spices, depending on region and preference. Traditionally, the black tea, herbs and spices are heated in a pot on the stove with milk. When the brew is simmered to perfection, it is then strained into your cup. This brew can contain cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon, which is the mixture we’ve come to love here in America. But, it can also contain delicious herbs like lemongrass and mint.
Not Shaken Or Stirred
The German traditional tea is called Ostfriesentee, and involves rich history and rich cream. Assam or Ceylon tea is brewed strong, and poured over a kluntje. The natural rock of sugar is left to sit at the bottom of the cup, unstirred. A dollop of heavy cream is added to the top, and is also left to settle in its place. This creates a layered cup - cream on top, tea in the middle, and a sweetness right at the end.
Samovar Friends Are Coming Over!
Have you heard of a samovar? In Russian and Persian tea culture, this ornate metal water heater is the center of it all. In the past, the samovar would be heated with wood chips or coal, which would add smokiness to the flavor of the brewed tea. Most samovar now are electric. Persian tea calls for three crushed cardamom pods, and can also involve rosewater, lavender, and bergamot. Both traditionally call for a black tea. If you are looking for that smoky flavor, try Russian Caravan or Lapsang Souchong!
Black tea is widely consumed in many countries around the world. There are so many cultural customs to explore, which make for endless flavor possibilities and serving methods. Not only is black tea popular, it is also healthy for the body. No matter how you choose to sip, the polyphenols and antioxidants will improve the health of skin, teeth, bones, and organs. For early morning or mid-afternoon, sipping on tea is a treat. Tea is a beverage as versatile as its history. Enjoy!