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The benefits of a healthy brewed cup of tea

The benefits of a healthy brewed cup of tea

The benefits of a healthy brewed cup of tea

A simple cup of tea has the power to make you feel great, but what goes into a good brew?

One of the main causes of ageing and a low life expectancy is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralisation by antioxidants.

Everyone produces some free radicals naturally, but you can also be exposed to free radicals from some pesticides and cleaning products, cigarette smoke, pollution, and a diet high in sugar, fat and alcohol.

Scientists from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) have recently confirmed that the mineral zinc can activate an organic molecule, helping to protect against oxidative stress.  Furthermore, FAU researchers working together with Prof. Dr. Christian Goldsmith from Auburn University, Alabama, USA, have discovered that zinc can protect against the superoxide responsible for oxidative stress when taken together with the compound hydroquinone found in foodstuffs such as wine, chocolate, tea and coffee.

Suk-yi Lo, founder of the online coffee, tea and dark chocolate store The Caffeine Trifecta, has a passion for the pleasure and healing ability of a good cup of coffee and tea, or eating some dark chocolate. She sheds light on the difference between loose leaf and tea bags, and how you can expand your tea repertoire.

What’s the difference between loose leaf and tea bag teas?

Typical supermarket tea bags are mass produced with “dust and fannings” – the lowest grade of tea which are the leftover tiny cuts of tea from the production of loose leaf tea. These tea bags are usually picked, processed and produced by machines overseas, and have likely sat around for some time before you see them in the supermarket.

Dust and fannings have lost most of their essential oils and aroma from the production process. When brewed, tea bags with their fine tea cuts tend to release more tannins and hence produce more astringent (i.e. bitter) brews.

Contrast this with loose leaf tea, which are handpicked for quality. Oftentimes, they are processed by skilled tea masters, therefore delivering teas with more flavour, aroma, health benefits and pleasure. Loose leaf tea typically has less packaging too, and is easier to compost directly.

How can you expand your tea tastes, where’s the best place to start?

The world of tea is vast and fascinating – there is so much scope to expand your tea tastes! Here’s my recommended way to start:  

  1. Grab a beginner’s guidebook on tea and read about some fundamentals such as the different types of teas and their general brewing instructions.
  2. There is no substitute for actual tea tasting. Start step-by-step with one or two types of tea that spark your interest and take it organically from there.
  3. Find a knowledgeable tea supplier you can trust, who will be able to introduce you to different teas and guide you on how to brew a good cup of tea based on what you have selected.
  4. Taste tea widely and variedly, and as your taste palate develops over time, you will establish a tea preference.
  5. Lastly, join tea events, online communities, meet-ups etc to deepen your knowledge. A big part of the joys of the tea journey is to establish a connection with like-minded tea lovers along the way.
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