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Tea, teh, cha, chai. Whatever you call it, it’s a common drink that is present in the history of many nations around the world.
Tea has always been a staple drink for Malaysians – from the common Chinese tea and herbal tea (leong cha) available at your local hawker, to its milk varieties – teh tarik and teh si ping. Do you know what differentiates these teas and which tea is best suited for you?
All teas are made from the leaves of Camellia sinesis. Its leaves are then cultivated and processed in different ways to bring out specific flavours and aromas, resulting in the many variations of tea available.
The most common types of tea gets its flavour and colour from its state of oxidization. White and Green tea have the least oxidised tea leaves, while the most oxidised tea leaves are of the Oolong, Black, Pu’Er variation. The lesser a tea is oxidised, the more gentle and lighter it will be in taste and aroma. Heavily oxidised teas will yield a dark deep reddish brown or earthy infusion, while a white will yield a pale yellow-green liquid. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule.
On the other hand, herbal teas are not made of the leaves from Camellia sinesis. They are usually not considered as tea but are referred to as Tisane. Some popular herbal teas are peppermint tea, ginger tea, moringa tea, rose tea, barley tea and chamomile tea.
White tea undergoes the least processing of all teas. Traditionally cultivated in China, white tea is picked only a few days in a year - when its white down (bai hao) appears on the tender shoots. It is then left to wither and dry to prevent oxidisation.
White tea tends to have the most delicate flavours and aromas. The nuances are gentle, even elusive, evoking fresh flavours like bamboo or asparagus or earthier elements like almonds. Their aromas tend to lean towards subtle floral bouquets. A well-known white tea variation is the famous Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yin Zhen) from China.
Green teas keep their vital colour because they are unoxidised. To prevent oxidisation, the leaves are heat processed to eliminate the enzyme responsible for oxidisation. Some famous green tea varieties are Dragon’s Well (Lung Ching) from China and Sencha from Japan.
Oolong teas are semi-oxidised. The term in Chinese actually means "Black Dragon". In general, larger, mature leaves are picked, withered, rolled, oxidized, and then fired. Oolong teas have a wide array of flavours and aromas. It can be steeped several times, with each successive infusion having its own distinctive taste and fragrance. A famous variety is the Iron Goddess of Mercy (Tie Guan Yin) from China.
For most black teas, younger leaves are picked before being withered, rolled, fully oxidised, and fired. While found originally in China, black teas are now cultivated worldwide. Some of the most popular black teas come from the Indian regions of Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri and Sri Lanka.
It is common to see black teas divided into broken leaf and full leaf categories. Broken leaf teas tend to be more brisk and higher in caffeine, making them an excellent morning tea ideal with milk and sugar. Full leaf teas, on the other hand, tend to be more refined and gentler on the palate, suitable as a light refreshment throughout the day.
Pu’Er Tea is a type of tea that is fermented. They are exposed to microflora and bacteria in its aging process similar to wine or yogurt. The tea’s flavour profile can change drastically and increase in depth over many years. Some of the most highly regarded and expensive teas of this type are well over 30 years old.
Pu'er teas yield a dark, hearty brew that is low in caffeine and usually tastes earthy and mellow. The Chinese believe that Pu'er aids digestion, while new studies indicate that Pu'er may help in reducing cholesterol.
Tea slows the aging process
Teas are rich in antioxidants, which help to prevent the body from aging and against damage from pollution. Antioxidants are higher in less oxidized tea leaves (white and green tea options) as it is less processed.
Reduces the rate of heart attack & stroke
A published study shows that combined data from earlier reports found nearly 20 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 35 percent reduced risk of stroke among those who drank one to three cups of green tea a day. Those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 32 percent reduction in the risk of having a heart attack.
Prevent bone loss
Moringa tea, a popular herbal tea that originates from South Asia is known for its medicinal properties. Moringa is rich in calcium, iron, vitamin A and K making it a great choice of beverage to help you keep your bones strong.
Boost immune system
Studies have shown that tea has the ability to boost the immune system to effectively fight illnesses. Basil or tulsi tea has been used by Ayurvedic practitioners for centuries to help keep the immune system strong after injuries or illnesses thanks to its antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbal tea soothes digestive system
Some herbal teas like chamomile, can be good for people with irritable bowel syndrome as it releases the spasm of involuntary muscles while ginger teas can calm nausea.
Tea has less caffeine than coffee
All herbal tea blends have no caffeine, while traditional teas have less than 50 percent of what is typically found in coffee. That means if you are sensitive to caffeine and its effects, tea is your next best choice!
Less acidic to your stomach
Consuming coffee on an empty stomach may lead to stomach irritation, due to the drink’s acidic nature. If you often experience this, switch to tea. It’s less acidic than coffee and could cause less to no irritation.
The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss, which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.