Among the many cultures of drinking tea, the Chinese culture is legend for starting it. The plant native to China is where tea comes from. You could call it camelia sinensis tea. The leaves produced from the plant are what makes tea tea. If they aren't produced from the camelia sinensis plant, then they aren't true tea. Instead, they are commonly known as herbal tea.
CaffeineThe difference is that tea has caffeine and herbal tea doesn't. Usually the herbal tea is an herbal infusion consisting of fruit, seeds, herbs, spices, flowers or roots of other plants. So, know that what is promoted as herbal tea isn't tea at all. It does come packaged similarly to tea - in flat bags, sachets, pyramid bags, and loose. The tea benefits are not the same (no caffeine for one), although herbal teas do have health benefits.
Tea BenefitsTea is one of the world's most popular drinks. Tea ceremonies are often instantaneous as in, "Come over for tea." A depth of intention seems to permeate the tea drinkers preparation of tea. Some tea gets steeped longer or shorter than others, and it is part of the patience associated with drinking tea.
All varieties of tea have:
- quercetin (a phytochemical that helps reduce free radicals in the body)
- vitamins C, D & K
- nickel, and polyphenols.
Green tea is a popular, healthy variety of the 4 tea types - white, oolong, and black are the others. The variety comes from how the leaves are processed. The degree of oxidation, or how the leaves react with oxygen is what makes them different. The least processed may have higher polyphenols.
Quercetin, the anti-oxident also helps reduce inflamatory arthritis pain (so does apple cider vinegar).
More benefit claims are that tea rehydrates rather than dehydrates. Three to four cups a day cut chances of having a heart attack. Since it contains fluoride it protects against tooth decay. It contributes to strong bones.
One possible drawback is that tea is an iron inhibitor. Personally, that is fine with me. Our food is way too enriched with iron anyway. However, people who don't have enough iron need to know that.
Herbal Tea DrinkersRemember that herbal teas don't contain tea leaves, but many tea drinkers drink them too. Some of the benefit claims for these are:
- invigorate (lemon, rosehip, peppermint)
- calm (chamomile, lavender, basil)
- ease headache (willow bark, peppermint)
- aid digestion (ginger, peppermint, chamomile), and many other wonderful infusions.
Whichever you enjoy, loose leaf is higher grade, and adding sugar and milk decreases benefits.