Are you ready to kick the coffee habit in favor of something healthier? If so, it may be time for tea.
For most of us, tea is pretty much anything that comes in a tea bag or is brewed in hot water. However, we are not talking about herbal teas, but rather those from the Chinese tea plant – camellia sinensis.
Black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong all come from this plant. The leaves are just processed differently for each.
“In China, we have a saying: ‘Tea is a treasure from God,’ ” said Zhuping Hodge, a certified Chinese tea master who, with husband Austin Hodge, owns Seven Cups Tea House at 2516 E. Sixth St.
“You give the tea freedom,” she said, referring to the tea buds floating in a freshly poured glass of hot water, “and tea offers the treasure for you. It helps your health.”
Numerous studies have shown that regular tea drinking can lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, increase bone density, reduce inflammation that leads to arthritis and improve oral health.
All teas from the tea plant are rich in the anti-oxidant compounds polyphenols, and contain about eight to 10 times the amount found in fruits and vegetables. Green tea has cancer-fighting polyphenols known as EGCG, epigallocatechin gallate.
Zhuping says people don’t have to settle for tea in a bag. Seven Cups carries more than 60 varieties of tea. With such a grand selection, where do you start?
“You need to take the time to find which tea is yours,” Hodge said. People must consider whether they like a smooth or strong taste, have stomach problems or other ailments they wish to alleviate.
She advises people to drink tea warm and drink those made from the bud or leaf because they pack the most nutrition.
Depending on the type, tea contains about half the caffeine of coffee. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, Hodge said tea is water-soluble, so you can drink the diluted second or third brew instead of the first.
Here are the types of tea and some of their benefits:
Green – Made from the sweetest, newest buds at the top of the plant. Not fermented. Contains cancer-fighting anti- oxidants, helps prevent colds and skin problems, and good for the respiratory system.
Black – Fermented to produce the unique rich, robust black tea flavor and amber color. Good for the stomach and intestines, reduces premenstrual pain, warms the body and increases blood circulation.
White – Finer than green tea, it has a subtle, sweet taste and gentle aroma. Rich in anti- oxidants, cools the body, promotes oral health, popular for treating skin problems caused by acne and chicken pox.
Oolong – Halfway between green and black tea, it has a unique flavor. Partially fermented. Good for the digestive system, joint problems and migraine headaches.
Jasmine – Green or white tea infused with flowers that impart a delicate taste and aroma. Good for the liver and vision.
Puer Tea – Mysterious, dark, fermented tea that is robust, earthy and rich. Promotes weight loss, lowers blood cholesterol.
Sources: Seven Cups Tea House, American Cancer Society, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Zhuping’s Chinese Tea Culture Class Where: 2516 E. Sixth St. When: 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays Price: $30 a class, $150 for all six Info: For a list of topics and reservations, call 881-4072.