Tea brews up many health benefits

In today’s society, fancy beverages are very popular. Aisles in grocery stores are lined from top to bottom with an endless assortment of bottled drinks. Many claim to benefit the human body in some way, and are loaded with sugars, excess caffeine and preservatives. From protein drinks, to energy drinks, sugar boosts and drinks meant to mellow you out, no drink compares to the health benefits found in the ancient drink of tea. According to legend, tea was first brewed in China around 2700 BCE. The first recorded “recipe,” was in the form of a drawing, from Japan in 350 BCE, illustrating the process of growing, drying and brewing tea. Who decided to throw some dry leaves in a pot of boiling water? Who knows? Was it perhaps accidental like many great inventions? Lucky for humans because tea offers so many helpful benefits. Just what makes tea a wellness drink?

According to many studies done by Harvard Medical School, tea has so many health benefits because of key substances. The health substances are the polyphenols that are compounds found in plants. Catechins and epicatechins found in tea are molecules that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Many types of tea are found to have these properties, and it has been found that tea drinkers have a lower risk for diabetes and even cardiovascular disease because of these compounds.

A tea that always seems to make headlines in the news about its health benefits is green tea. In fact green tea is the top overall health tea according to the Cleveland Clinic because of the higher amount of catechins and epicatechins found in it. A snapshot of Green Teas benefits includes cancer prevention, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and even weight loss.

Tea is often used for specific symptoms as drinkers of tea find benefits in certain properties of teas to help alleviate things like insomnia, stomach pain and low energy. For example, a  favorite tea for insomnia is chamomile. Its taste is mellow and apple-like. The benefits are its calming effects, which can be used for sleeping, and it’s also believed to be antibacterial. The first civilizations to have ever used it were Egypt, Greece and Rome. Back in their days, chamomile was believed to have medicinal properties, and really that was speculative at the time.

There is also peppermint, which is quite strong and can most definitely be an ‘’acquired taste’’ as a tea. The menthol in the tea really gives the immune system a kick into gear. This tea helps with  stomach ailments as well as mental benefits of focus and memory. 

Ginger tea has similar soothing properties for stomach ailments, nausea, menstruation problems and anti-infllamation as well. It is easy to make as you can just boil ginger root or sprinkle ginger powder into boiling water.

Socially, tea rooms have been becoming more popular in recent years. As younger generations also take an interest in health and wellness options.  Cedar Falls has an excellent tea room called the Tea Cellar, with an expansive variety of teas available. Tea Cellar owner and tea expert Justeen Hill was able to answer these questions about her selection of teas.

In your popular tea room, what teas do you find customers buy the most to bring home? 

We analyze our best sellers twice a year.  Our best selling tea consistently is Honey Almond. It’s an herbal containing no caffeine. It comes from the honeybush grown exclusively in South Africa. It has a natural sweetness to it, though no sugar is added to our teas.  Our next best-selling tea is Cinnamon Spice; it is a black tea and contains about one third of the caffeine coffee contains. Cinnamon bark has a natural sweetness and therein lies some of the intrigue of this vibrant black tea. Other best sellers are caramel pecan, peaches & cream, etc.

  1. Is there a tea that you love the most over all others?

One of my favorite teas since we opened has been cream caramel decaf. I don’t drink it because it’s decaffeinated; I drink it for the amazing flavor. 

  1. Is there a tea that you feel is best to ease symptoms for when a person has a cold?

We do not offer advice or counsel on the medicinal benefits of our teas. One reason is to protect ourselves; if we promoted a certain tea that’s “good for stomach issues” or “good for digestion,” etc., we would have to stand by that promise faithfully. We rely on our customers to do their own research regarding benefits of tea. I would encourage you to google “honeybush” and glean some information that herbs possess.

So it is important that a tea drinker do the research themselves when looking for a specific tea to help bring a little extra wellness to their lives. Be careful about falling for online scams for diet teas or “health teas,” that have added caffeine and laxatives that can induce stomach problems. Look for blends that meet your needs. 

Next time you get the urge to grab a soda, hyper caffeinated energy drink, super sugary blended coffee, maybe try a nice cup of hot or cold tea to boost your energy and get some super healthy disease fighting polyphenols into you.

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