7 things you didn’t know about your cup of tea
Britain is a nation of tea drinkers. We collectively enjoy 165 million cuppas every day – no mean feat. And these days the variety of teas on shelves is greater than ever. Sales of exotic blends and green teas are on the rise, in line with the trend for healthier living.
But having a tea break is about more than enjoying a warming beverage (though we’ll certainly drink to that). It’s about taking a few moments out in our busy schedules that are just for us. Tea expert Yulia Zhizhaeva, of Jadu, says: ‘To me, tea is more than a beverage. It’s a channel to a new world where we can unwind, excite, pamper, relax or warm our soul.’
Plus, of course, tea has plenty of proven health benefits, including containing body-boosting, free-radical fighting antioxidants and hydrating properties.
So whether your chosen brew is green, builder’s or Earl Grey, here are a few things you might not know about your cuppa. Time to put the kettle on and warm the pot.
1 It stimulates – but also calms
The properties of caffeine are well-known – in a humble mug of breakfast tea it can give us a lift, and help us concentrate. But tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid thought to have calming properties. If you like, it’s the yin to caffeine’s yang. ‘L-theanine may prevent some of the agitation that is sometimes associated with the consumption of caffeine,’ says Zhizhaeva.
2 It could make you beautiful
White tea is ordinary tea (or Camellia sinensis) in its purest form, with minimal processing involved – why not try it as a refreshing alternative to green. ‘White tea is renowned for being full of beautifying antioxidants. A thousand years ago it was reserved only for Chinese royalty ’ says Zhizhaeva. Princess perfect? We’ll take it!
3 It needs to be brewed right
Different teas benefit from different times in the mug (or pot), according to Zhizhaeva. ‘White and green teas usually take approximately two minutes. Black teas can take three to five minutes, whilst fruit and herbal teas are around three minutes.’ Always check the box to make sure you’re enjoying your tea tipple at its best. Once brewed to perfection, remove the leaves or teabags – too long and it will lose its perfect flavour profile.
4 Temperature matters, too
Don’t necessarily just pour on water while the kettle is in the midst of boiling and bubbling. ‘White and green teas taste better if you heat freshly drawn water to about 80°C,’ advises Zhizhaeva.
5 It could boost your heart health
Three cups of tea a day could help stabilise your blood pressure, leading to a lower risk of stroke and heart attack, according to a 2013 study. It’s thought that the healthy flavonoids found in tea are responsible for boosting health. Recent studies have found a positive antioxidant effect whether tea is drunk black or with milk added. Just one more excuse to drink up.
6 It could also help people with diabetes
Studies show that compounds found in green tea may help those with type 2 diabetes better process sugar. Drinking green tea is a Good Thing in other ways, too – it’s also indicated in boosting bone mineral density and strength.
7 Tea is your friend in good times and bad
Sometimes it’s the simple things that improve our lives. When times are difficult, a cup of tea is constant, a little cup of comfort that’s there as sure as the sun rises in the sky. ‘Tea helps you go through hard times and accompanies you in your happy days, too. Create your own ritual of tea drinking, and make it special,’ says Zhizhaeva. We couldn’t agree more. ‘Special’ novelty mugs at the ready…