I am a coffee drinker but occasionally, when there is something wrong with me, I turn to tea. For example, during a cold or stomach flu, I really do not feel like drinking anything but a light Earl Grey tea. Apparently, many people agree, since tea is the second most popular non alcoholic beverage in the world after water. I thought it would be Coke… So here are a few facts about tea that I found interesting:
- There are close to 1,500 different varieties of tea. They are divided in four types: white, green, oolong, and black. Some are flavored with essential oil, the most famous being the Earl Grey (a black tea infused with bergamot oil).
- Green tea became very popular in our western countries lately. To get the most from your daily cup, let the tea leaves infuse 8 to 10 minutes so you can extract as much antioxidant as possible. The flavor will be less subtle, but the health benefit much higher!
- If you enjoy tea but have trouble sleeping and want to lower its stimulant effect, make a first quick infusion (20 to 30 seconds) that you discard, and then make a second one as you would normally do. This simple step will get rid of 80% of the caffeine contained in tea.
- Green and black tea protect against cavities (had I only known!)
- There are only 2 calories in a cup of tea (250 ml), unless you add milk, sugar or honey, obviously!
- Earl Grey tea: it was named after an earl called Charles Grey who was given a secret recipe by a Mandarin Chinese. The benefits of bergamot oil (which is extracted from the bergamot orange) are many and they contribute to the good reputation of Earl Grey tea.
- The bergamot essential oil is being considered as a ‘‘natural statin’’. It contains polyphenols that appear to block production of blood fats, boost metabolism and prevent cholesterol absorption in the gut. It also has antibacterial and antibiotic properties and helps treat acne, eczema, psoriasis and varicose veins. It is said to strengthen the immune system. It is an excellent digestive and also relieves stomach discomfort. In France we use it in very famous and old candies called the ”Bergamotes de Nancy”.
- Black tea is well known for being a cardiovascular protector, provided that you do not add milk to it. Caseins (which are milk proteins) bond with the antioxidants in the tea, making them enable to play their beneficial role. It could explain why black tea does not seem to improve cardiovascular diseases in the UK where people add milk to their tea.
Tea is a wonderful beverage, but there are things you should know (and remember, ice tea counts!):
- If you suffer from iron deficiency anemia, or are vegetarian and therefore get your iron from vegetables only: the tannins contained in tea lower the absorption of iron coming from plants. It is better to control your tea intake and discuss it with your physician. It is also wise to drink tea away from your meals (one to two hours before or after).
- If you are taking anticoagulants, be aware that green tea can modify their blood levels. So you should talk to your physician about this as well.
- If you suffer from GERD, esophagitis or hiatal hernia, you should avoid tea and other food that contain methylxanthines (such as chocolate and coffee) because they can cause a relaxation of the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach, and therefore allow the reflux of gastric acid toward the esophagus.
Well, I will let you go now because it is tea time.