What’s the most popular drink in the world besides water? If you guessed coffee, that would be incorrect; its tea! According to the Tea Association of America, tea is found in 80% of the households in the U.S. and iced tea accounts for the majority of the tea consumed by Americans.

Tea-rific Beverly
Beverly at the Charleston Tea Plantation

I consider myself a ‘tea geek’ and have never drank a cup of coffee in my life. On my recent travels abroad, I enjoyed sipping several types of tea in the many tea shops in Beijing, China (no coffee served, only tea). Green ginger tea was my favorite. I learned the proper way to brew tea (never boil the water) and sipped puerh, or dark tea, for the first time at Hong Kong’s Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware. And a tour through the Charleston Tea Plantation last December was very enlightening.

Did you know that all tea originates from one plant, the Camilla sinensis plant? Another interesting fact is that the amount of time this plant’s leaves are exposed to the air (or oxidized) determines the five main types of tea: white, green, oolong, black and dark.

Health Benefits of Tea

Whether you consume tea as a refreshing cold or a comforting warm beverage, this plant-based drink has many health benefits. Tea contains antioxidants, primarily flavonoids, which benefit our health. Consume black tea or green tea and you can improve heart health by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Drink oolong tea and you can manage blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic. Sip green tea and you may decrease your risk of depression. Consuming tea may also protect the brain against Alzheimer’s Disease. Sipping chamomile which is an herbal beverage and not technically a tea, can improve your sleep.

Caffeine and Tea

Japanese Teapot
Japanese Teapot, photo by savard

An 8-ounce cup of tea contains about one-third (green tea, 30-50 milligrams (mgs)) to one-half (black tea, 25-110 mgs.) the caffeine compared to an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee (100-200 mgs.). That’s great news if you want to reduce your caffeine intake. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), states that 400 mgs. per day of caffeine is a safe amount to consume for healthy adults. Too much caffeine (500 to 600 mgs/day) can cause restlessness, tremors, irritability, insomnia and stomach upset.

For all you coffee lovers, there is no need to put your coffee cup away. Instead, substitute one or two cups of your daily ‘joe’ for tea and enjoy the many health benefits and ‘tea-rific’ flavors of tea.

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