Tea leaves have properties which take care of your body and state of mind. This wonderous drink has been around for over 5,000 years and the many health benefits have been uncovered over time.
Tea leaves contain polyphenols, namely catechins which act as antioxidants.
The youngest bud has the highest level of antioxidants: Green teas, white teas and first flush teas.
One of these catechins is called Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and is thought to:
protect us against cancer of the breast, prostate, lungs, ovaries, and liver
protect us against atherosclerosis and other circulatory diseases
ward off Alzheimer's disease or dementia,
control blood sugar levels.
An 8oz cup of green tea contains approximately 100 mg of EGCG
All teas contain these catechins and their potency is stronger the longer you steep the tea. Remember not to steep too long though to avoid the bitter taste which polyphenols can give.
Different tea types give different benefits for example: Oolong tea is notable for containing theanine, an amino acid which reduces anxiety and increases alertness and attention. Green tea is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and may low cholesterol and blood pressure. White tea is the least processed tea and has many benefits including a higher level of fluoride to protect your teeth.
How to Brew Tea
How to brew tea correctly for maximum flavor and benefit.
Always follow the guidelines for brewing tea, as each tea type requires a slightly different method. Once you have practiced the method, you will brew the perfect cup of tea forever!
Get all 3 of these important steps right and you will taste the difference!
Measuring: You can use a scoop to measure tea to start, but we recommend graduating to weighing out your tea as soon as possible. The density of tea leaves differs so the amount of tea is more important. If you are able to weigh your tea, then remember to use sensitive weighing scales which measure small amounts. You will quickly find the perfect weight for each tea to allow for the perfect brew. If you start with scoops, you will know whether you like a heaped or scant spoon.
Water temperature: Different teas need to be steeped at different temperatures. The water temperature controls how much caffeine. and how many polyphenols are released into your drink. Use the guide below and if possible, a thermometer or a temperature control hot water kettle.
IMPORTANT: Use only filtered water (not mineral water or water with a high alkalinity). Also use freshly heated water because it contains the most oxygen and the least number of contaminants. Don’t reheat water for tea as this increases the concentration of contaminants.
Steeping time: Once the correct amount is added and the water has been heated to the correct temperature for the type of tea, then set a timer for the correct steeping time. If you steep for too long, your tea may taste bitter because of the excess polyphenols, and it may contain too much caffeine.
The History and the Etiquette of Afternoon Tea
In 1840 an English Duchess decided that she got peckish (a little hungry), between lunch and dinner. She decided it was too long to wait for a meal, so she needed a light bite in between. At 4pm, daily, she began to enjoy cucumber sandwiches and petits fours. The custom caught on and people began partake in this afternoon activity; they would dress up to dress up for it and pretty soon it became a regular mealtime.
Remember not to let etiquette get in the way of fun. Afternoon tea is most enjoyable when everyone is feeling relaxed. There is no real need for "airs and graces". If you think etiquette is fun, and you would like to adopt some of the customs for your tea party, choose the ones that suit you.
Some of the Do's - Dress smartly: a jacket for men and a nice dress for ladies. No jeans or sportswear, sneakers etc. would be frowned upon. You can accessorize with a hat (yes even indoors - though it looks even more sophisticated for a garden party). Lace gloves were all the rage at one time, so they go well with teatime attire, and you can even keep them on to pick up your cucumber sandwiches!
Some of the Don'ts - it is not necessary to lift your pinkie to drink tea. If you like milk in your tea, add it after the tea has been poured. Afternoon Tea is not High Tea. High tea is more of a hearty meal enjoyed a little later and less so by high society. Pronounce the word scone as 'skon' and don't let anyone correct you!