Common Questions About Tea: 6 Answers

Many people ask me about tea, so here are some answers to the most common questions about tea.

1. What’s the difference between black, green, and herbal teas?

Strictly speaking, the only true teas are those derived from the plant camellia sinensis: black (such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey), green, and a less-common brew called oolong.

Black tea, which is what most tea drinkers drink, is air-cured before it’s heated. This is what gives it a different flavor than green tea.

Herbal teas aren’t really teas at all. They are made from a different class of edible plants.

2. Which brew is healthiest?

Both black and green teas contain high levels of antioxidants, which may prevent or delay damage to your body’s cells and tissues. In fact, teas pack in more antioxidants than most vegetables. Two cups contain about the same amount of antioxidants as a full serving of fruits or vegetables.

Herbal teas don’t contain the same mixture of antioxidants, so their benefits aren’t nearly as significant. But they do remedy some conditions. For instance they will help you fall asleep or ease nasal congestion.

3. What about iced tea?

Healthwise, it makes no difference whether you sip hot or iced tea. Pass on those bottled teas. though. Studies I read showed they lacked in antioxidants and can be loaded with sugar. For iced tea, pour two cups of boiling water over four tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for five minutes, then press down on the bags. Remove bags; add cold water and ice cubes.

4. Should I try medicinal teas sold in health-food stores?

The shelves are filled with interesting tea names that imply the blend can cure whatever ails you. No one regulates these teas and manufacturers are not required to prove their claims, so you’re pretty much on your own. Ask around, or better yet ask the store for a sample tea bag and see what you think.

5. How much caffeine does tea have?

A six-ounce cup steeped for about three minutes contains 40-50 milligrams of caffeine, or roughly one third the amount in a cup of coffee. Though it may be less nerve-jangling than coffee, tea can cause restlessness, anxiety, or insomnia if you’re caffeine sensitive. If you opt for decaf tea you’ll get less antioxidants, so keep that in mind.

6. Any reason I should NOT drink tea?

If you take iron supplements, never swallow them with tea because it can block your body’s absorption of iron. And if you rely on vegetables for iron, wait an hour after eating before brewing a cup of tea.

Now that you know the ins and outs of tea, drink up and enjoy!


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