I was born in Fujian, a province on the southeast coast of China. Fujian has a subtropical climate and mountainous terrain – conditions which are ideal for growing tea. When I grew up, my parents taught me Chinese tea culture as well as the benefits of drinking tea. As a yogi, I use the art of tea to complete my yoga practice. I believe the spirit of the heart, quietness and tranquility link together the concepts of Zen and Tea. Today I would like to talk about why and how to drink tea to improve health and achieve real Zen.
First, do you drink real tea?
Before we get into the part why and how to drink tea to improve health, I want you to make sure that your “tea” is actually tea. Real tea is made from the leaves of a single plant, the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). And it includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else (like herbal “tea”) is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea.
Even though a lot of “like tea” drinks (such as flower tea, herbal tea, fruity tea) are tasty and refreshing, they don’t necessarily have the benefits that real tea provides.
Health benefits of tea:
1. Tea contains antioxidants.
Antioxidants can help slow down aging and help our cells to regenerate and repair. Tea contains high levels of antioxidant polyphenols that can help keep our body healthier and keep us young. And some studies suggest even ward of some cancers.
2. Tea is hydrating to the body (even despite the caffeine!).
Conventional wisdom held that caffeinated beverages actually dehydrated you more than they hydrated you. Recent research has shown, however, that caffeine doesn’t make a difference unless you consume more than 5 to 6 cups at a time. Tea has been shown to actually be more healthy for you than water alone in some cases because it hydrates while providing antioxidants.
3. Tea has less caffeine than coffee.
Traditional teas have less than 50 percent of caffeine typically found in coffee. That means you can consume it without those pesky effects on your nervous system. Tea can provide the pick me up of coffee but without the high levels of caffeine making you less jittery and helping you get to sleep when you want.
4. Tea can help the body recover from radiation.
Studies found that tea helps protect against cellular degeneration upon exposure to radiation.
5. Tea can help lower blood pressure.
Drinking only half a cup of green or oolong tea a day could reduce your risk of high blood pressure by up to 50%.
6. Tea aids in digestion.
Tea has been used in China for thousands of years as an after-meal digestive aid and it can help you as well due to the high levels of tannins it contains.
7. Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Tea helps to prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots which are very often the cause of heart attacks and strokes.
There are many other benefits of tea. When winter comes, I always drink one or two cups of tea before my daily yoga sessions. It warms me up and prepares me for my yoga practice in cold weather.
How to drink tea properly?
Avoid making the following MISTAKES:
1. Drink cold tea
Coldness in tea heightens the chilling TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) nature of tea and can easily weaken a strong stomach, and hurt a weak one. To certain people the bad effect of drinking cold tea may come only very slowly and would not be apparent until after years. To some it can be pretty quickly.
2. Add flavor additives or sweetener
Personally I always say no to milk and sugar in my tea. If you drink tea as part of your diet, you should definitely avoid adding sugar and other additives to it. Not only those additives make calorie free tea no longer calorie free. It also add too much artificial things and make healthy tea not much healthy any more. Not to mention that sweeteners will make the refreshing taste of tea disappear. Every time I see a friend add syrup or sugar into tea, I really want to tell him/her not to waste tea but just to get a candy water.
3. Use tea bags
Plastic tea bags in hot enough water will begin to break down. When this happens, toxins are released into the tea. Though one cup of bagged tea won’t do any harm, consistently drinking this could cause health issues. The more you drink tea in plastic tea bags, the more chemicals you put in your body.
Are paper tea bags safer? Not really! Unless you buy your tea from an environmentally brand, most of the tea you consume is wrapped in white bags. White stands for “clean“. This means that these tea bags are the result of intensive chemical processes. Would you like to continue drinking tea in a chlorine-bleached bag?
Moreover, a lot of merchants fit tiny, broken leaves known as “dust” and “tannings” in the tea bags. Compared to loose-leaf tea, these tea bags are like leftovers and their flavors and aromas are far less ideal than loose-leaf tea.
How to drink tea properly?
1. Boil water and warm up teapot
Once you’ve chosen your tea, you need to boil some water in a tea kettle. When your water has finished boiling, the first thing you should do with your water is to warm up your teapot. Put just a little boiling water into your teapot. Then you swish that boiling water around inside the teapot to warm it up.
2. Add the tea to the teapot
You can either put tea leaves directly in the teapot or put them in a cup-sized filter. Using a filter allows you to remove the tea leaves anytime you want. For example, if you don’t want the leaves to steep for too long, it would be nice to be able to remove the tea leaves from the pot before the tea becomes too strong.
3. Pour water and steep the tea
You should fill the teapot such that the tea leaves are all submerged, but not so high that it’s in danger of spilling. How long you should let the leaves sit in the water will vary based on the tea. Generally speaking, a black tea will need to steep for two to three minutes. For green tea you can steep a little longer.
Once the two or three minutes are up, it’s time to remove the tea from the teapot. Simply lift your filter out, and voila! Your tea is ready!
4. Serve and enjoy the tea
I suggest that you warm up the cups with hot water in the same way you warm up the teapot. It’s important to let your tea cool down some before drinking to avoid injury. Breathe in deep and experience the aroma of the tea before you take your first sip. Sip your tea knowing that you’re doing something healthy for your body. Fully relax. You can even meditate. Your body and mind will both find peace in relaxation.
If you feel lazy and feel making tea step by step is a lot of work to you, you can use a One-Touch Tea Maker. With a one-touch tea maker, you simply need to push the basket button and then watch the basket cycle in and out of immersion.The fully automated tea basket moves down, then up, gently agitating the leaves to precisely infuse your tea. It also has different programs for all types of tea, water temperatures, and steep times.
As you enjoy tea, you can play some soothing music to achieve a full relaxation. I usually listen to some meditation and yoga music. You can see my recommendations in the post Best Yoga Music For Your Yoga Practice.
There you go. As winter is approaching, it’s time to drink tea to improve health and strengthen our body. If you have any thoughts or tips on how to drink tea to improve health, please share them with us in the comments.