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Drinking tea for health.

Tea has been used for therapeutic purposes in China for hundreds of years. Different types of tea have different properties according to the Chinese. The two overarching concepts are that of cold and hot, including the ability to conserve or to stimulate. Here are some very general guidelines:

White to green teas are generally cooling. White teas are the least ‘fermented,’ which is to say, they are hardly oxidised. Some of these teas can taste like raw plants. Women as a rule should not consume such tea regular, especially not around their menstrual period, ie a few days to a week before, during and a few days after. Examples of some white teas products are White Peony and Silver Needles. Well-known green teas are Gunpowder and Long Jing (Dragon Well). Gunpowder goes rather well with fresh mint leaves – truly refreshing on hot, humid days. When brewed, these tea yield a rich yellow through to nearly the clarity of tap water. The white varieties tend towards the latter and the taste is very delicate.

‘Semi-fermented’ – They sit somewhere in the middle of the continuum from cold-hot with variation. For instance, Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess) is a little on the cooling side while the various Ooolong teas are just over on the warming side. Oolong teas are great for aiding digestion post-meal. The brewed tea offers a clear golden brown.

Further along are the Red teas. Most commercial ‘Western’ and ‘Indian’ teas, the Dilmahs and Tetleys, are from this category. The Chinese varieties include Dian Hong, Phoenix, Qimen. These teas are full fermented/oxidised and taste stronger. As the category name suggest, the colour tends to be a rich ruddy one.

At the other end of the spectrum, the most well-known Black tea is Pu Er from Yunnan province. It is highly fermented after going through a process of steaming and drying and mixing with yeast during the fermentation. Thereafter, they are packed into discs. The high quality ones tend to be matured for as long as 10-20 years and can be costly. This tea is said to lower cholesterol if drank daily over a long time. Great tea for the elderly and those who feel the cold easily. Can be a wonderful pick-me-up. Black tea colours range from a deep golden brown to a dark chocolate.

There is always a worry about caffeine in tea. It is nowhere near the amount present in coffee ml for ml. Having said that, some people are sensitive to any amount of caffeine. So, it can be a bit of trial and error. Pu Er tea, however, being invigorating, sometimes has the same effect as coffee.

Enjoy your cuppa.

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