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Which is Healthier, Iced Tea or Hot Tea?

It’s that time of the year again, and what goes best with a hot summer day, when the sun is high and burning your skin to a nice crispy red? You got it, ICED TEA!


Nothing is more refreshing and lowers your body temperature better than a cold crisp glass of premium loose tea from ESP Tea Emporium. Actually, many people enjoy iced tea in place of soft drinks all year round. It’s cold refreshing and much healthier than soft drinks, energy drinks or yes even iced coffee.


However, the question always comes up. Which is healthier, iced tea or hot tea? Does tea lose any of the many health benefits, including antioxidants, that are plentiful in hot brewed tea?


Research has shown that for the most part, iced and hot tea both contain the same antioxidants and, as a result, the same health benefits. However, even though the results do vary a little depending on the tea.


A 2012 study conducted by Professor Jeng-Leun Mau of the National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, showed that cold-brewed green tea that was steeped for 12 hours had a high level of polyphenols (the extremely healthy antioxidants in green tea) that were equal to or greater than tea steeped in hot water for 5 minutes.


The study does note that steeping tea for at least 12 hours has better extraction abilities than hot water brewing. Cold-brewing tea does contain between half and two-thirds of the caffeine content of a hot cup of tea.


Cold-brewed tea displays more of a delicate and subtle flavor than hot-brewed tea which is very refreshing in its own right, but exceptionally so for people who don’t prefer a strong and robust cup of tea.


It goes without saying that drinking iced tea in place of soft drinks is much healthier and beneficial to a healthy lifestyle. Ice tea also contains zero calories for weight conscious people and doesn’t have the same nasty effects of tooth decay (depending on whether you use sugar or not) as soft drinks.


Hot or cold tea can have a huge impact on improving your health in several ways since tea is packed with antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals. Tea is credited with boosting your immune system, boosting your energy and is excellent at helping fight off illness and even cancer, as well as several other health problems.


So keep cool during the dog days of summer, keep a pitcher of premium Iced Tea on hand. Sweetened or unsweetened, flavored or straight you can’t go wrong. Feed your body, fight off health problems and chill.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


To Bag or Not to Bag: Tea Bags vs Loose Tea

To bag or not to bag, that is the question that causes heated debate in the wonderful world of tea. In the United States, we have grown accustomed to going to the grocery store and picking up a box containing a hundred tea bags of the commercially popular blend of tea. Well, in the rest of the world this isn’t norm, in fact it is even frowned upon.


So where did these cute little tea bags come from, and what is the difference between tea bags and loose tea? I’m glad you asked, here is a little history on, one of the worst inventions known to tea, the tea bag.


Tea bags were actually invented by accident, as with several other inventions we currently use every day, giving credence to the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”.


Around the turn of the last century, Thomas Sullivan, a tea and coffee merchant from New York City, in an attempt to cut sampling costs, started sending out his loose tea in small, hand-sewn silk pouches (instead of the costly tins, which most other merchants used).


The idea was for customers to open the bags and steep the loose tea as they normally would, however, most potential clients were confused by this new packaging and wound up throwing the bag right into the hot water to steep.


Sullivan soon realized he had something when he started receiving several requests for his “tea bags” and, as they say, the rest was history. The quick and simple clean up of the leaves, that were still contained in the bags, made this option much more favorable to several of his customers.


Around 1904, the first tea bags began appearing commercially and were quickly picked up around the world.


However, with the tea bag came a problem, flavor. Using tea bags was a problem because the tea leaves didn’t have sufficient room to expand completely while steeping and couldn’t release their full flavor, so tea quality paid the price.


Since the tea was now hidden in a difficult to see through silk bag, smaller leaves were used, so the leaves had more room to expand. To add to the decline in tea quality, since the size of the leaves no longer mattered, merchants began purchasing much cheaper grades of tea called “fannings” or “dust”.


These are the lowest grades of tea there are. They are quite literally “the bottom of the barrel”, nothing more than the dust which is left over in the bottom of the tea barrels after all the leaves are removed.


This “tea” will change the color of the water in your cup, but doesn’t have nearly as much flavor as full tea leaves. To add insult to injury, companies began wrapping the “leaves” in paper filters, a much cheaper solution for them, however, it limited the flow of water through the bag, further lessening the quality.


All of the harm done to the quality of commercial “tea” has lead people to believe that this is as good as it gets for tea. This is why, at ESP Tea Emporium, “What you see is what you get”. We only offer premium quality loose tea leaves that provide unbelievable flavor and aroma.


If you are only familiar with store bought, commercial tea bags you owe it to yourself to find out how truly amazing tea really is by trying some of the amazing blends only found at ESP Tea Emporium.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


Caffeine: Tea vs Coffee

Caffeine is a big part of the lives of many adults. It’s the main reason coffee is so popular. Most people would find it very hard to believe that coffee gained its popularity because people actually enjoy drinking a cupful of bitter sludge. But hey, there’s no accounting for people’s taste.


More and more, we seem to be a civilization running on overdrive, trying to go faster, produce more and stay up longer. This is evident by the wide selection of energy drinks, energy pills and an ever increasing dosage of caffeine.


According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, an 8 oz. cup of Black tea contains 14-70 mg of caffeine. In comparison, an 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine. Quite a difference.


Now, before you start thinking you need to forgo your favored morning cup of tea for coffee, just so you can get that jolt you need to get the engine going again read on.


It’s true coffee does contain quite a bit more caffeine than tea, however, tea contains other natural stimulants that are similar to caffeine including theobromine, theophylline and xanthine.


With this being said, even though the overall stimulants in tea and coffee are technically identical, tea affects us in different ways.


An amino acid called L-theanine, found only in tea, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. It works with caffeine to calm the body without reducing the alertness caffeine produces. This allows tea drinkers to have the benefit of mental alertness and focus, without the jittery nervousness that caffeine is known for.


The next benefit tea holds over coffee is, the high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow down caffeine absorption. This provides a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and allows for a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.


There is a myth that tea contains more caffeine than coffee. This is actually true if you measure coffee and tea in their dry forms. However, it is false when you are comparing the two after they have been brewed.


This is because we normally use 2 grams of tea to produce an 6 oz. cup because 8 oz. of water makes the tea too watered down. However, 10 grams of coffee is used to make the same size cup. This is the main reason there is such a difference in the amount of caffeine contained in each drink, you are using more coffee to produce the same size cup.


The amount of caffeine in either coffee or tea depends on several different factors, including the method and length of brewing and steeping. In regards to tea, studies also show that the location of the leaf on the plant affects the content of caffeine in that tea. The newest leaves, highest up on the plant, contain the greatest concentration of caffeine and antioxidants.


Water temperature and length of steeping time have the greatest impact on caffeine content in tea. With this being said, a tea that is steeped for five minutes in boiling water will transfer a lot more caffeine than tea that is steeped for two minutes.


Another myth, promoted by several tea retailers, is that oxidation increases the level of caffeine in tea. There is no scientific proof that this is true. This claim results from measuring the caffeine in the cup after typical brewing methods and incorrectly attributing that to the tea itself.


There is a lot of recent concern in the United States about the possible dangers of caffeine. Caffeine tolerance varies a lot among different individuals. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. It is a common misconception that people who are caffeine sensitive should only drink decaffeinated tea.


In fact, same as with coffee, decaffeinated tea is not caffeine free. It still contains 5-10 mg of caffeine per cup. A way to completely eliminate caffeine intake, is to drink herbal teas. All real tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, which contains caffeine naturally.


Herbal infusions, such as Chamomile, Rooibos and Peppermint, are made from botanicals which aren’t related to Camellia sinensis, and are naturally caffeine free.


There are a lot of different factors to consider if you are caffeine conscious in regards to coffee and tea. However, if you are looking for a pick me up, coffee isn’t your only option and that is what a lot of people are being lead to believe. You can get your daily pick me up, while still enjoying an amazingly flavorful drink.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


What are Tisanes?

A confusing aspect of tea is that a lot of the beverages we commonly refer to as “tea” actually aren’t tea at all. Tisanes (meaning “herbal infusion” in French), which are commonly called herbal teas, usually consist of dried flowers, fruits or herbs steeped in boiling water, and don’t actually contain any tea leaves at all.


Actually, in some countries, the word “tea” is legally regulated to only be used in describing products from the Camellia Sinensis plant. However, we aren’t so strict in the United States, we call just about every beverage that it steeped “tea”.


Many Tisanes, historically used for medicinal purposes, are beginning to become popular again in tea circles. Just about any flower, fruit or herb that can be steeped in water and ingested can become a tisane.


Here are just a few of the more common tisanes you will readily find:


Herbal Tisanes

One of the most famous herbal teas comes from ancient Egypt. Chamomile was first mentioned in a document known as the Ebers Papyrus, dating all the way back to 1550 BC.


The sweet citrus and floral flavor of chamomile has a reputation of honoring the gods, embalming the dead and curing the sick and it is still very popular today for its calming properties.


Peppermint tea has been used for just about as long as a home remedy for upset stomach and to help with the overall digestive system. In ancient Greece, tables would be rubbed down with peppermint oil to make dining a more pleasant experience.


Fruit Tisanes

Fruit tisanes are caffeine free blends which can contain a wide variety of fruits, spices and herbs. Hibiscus, naturally high in Vitamin C. is the most common ingredient in fruit teas. A crimson flower that yields a deep red color after it is steeped, that has a strong tart, sweet flavor that is very appealing.


To achieve a perfect blend, with just the right visual and flavor appeal, tea blenders will use dried fruits, fruit peels, fruit oils, blossoms and spices to their herbal blends.


Rooibos

Rooibos is a relative newcomer in the United States and has recently become very popular. Also known as “Red Bush Tea” or just “Red Tea,” rooibos was introduced as a substitute for black tea during World War II, when all supplies of Japanese and Chinese teas became unavailable.


Only grown in South Africa, caffeine free rooibos has a rich, slightly sweet flavor that is excellent alone or blends very well with a variety of other flavors.


Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is a South American botanical from the holly family which is consumed throughout most of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Far East. Also known as simply “Mate”, this tisane has been praised as a cultural phenomenon, which both energizes and heals the body.


Yerba Mate, along with coffee, cocoa and tea, is one of the few plants known to contain caffeine which lends to its energizing effects. With a very earthy taste, Mate can seem a little different to newcomers, however, after a few sips most people find it very pleasant, which is quickly making it a suitable substitute for coffee in the U.S.


Herbal blends are quickly growing in popularity, with the wide variety of tisanes available, the possible combinations are virtually unlimited.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


The Amazing and Versatile Camellia Sinensis

Most true tea comes from one plant, the Camellia sinensis which is part of the evergreen family. The leaves are glossy green with serrated edges. When allowed to flower, the plant produces small white flower with bright yellow stamens.


Flowering is prevented during cultivation by harvesting the leaves and forcing the plant to constantly make more buds. There are two primary varieties of Camellia sinensis used for tea and a third which isn't.


Camellia sinensis

The Camellia sinensis plant strain is from China and is usually used to make green tea and white tea. This variety is also used to make some black teas and oolong teas.


This Chinese grown plant grows the best in cool temperatures on steep mountain slopes. Thriving at elevations up to 9,500 feet, the plant will typically grow to between 5 and 15 feet tall, if left unattended, and produces leaves up to two inches long. The short mountain growing seasons yield a smaller crop of more tender leaves that yield a sweeter, less astringent cup.


To allow easier plucking of the new growth, the Camellia sinensis is usually pruned to be waist high with a flat top. Because of the climate, the growing season is half of the year, at most. The plant will typically yield no more than five pluckings a year. The China plant will be dormant during the winters.


During the dormant winter the plant stores up its energy and nutrients which ensures the spring “flush” of new growth provides some of the finest teas on earth with the highest concentrations of desirable flavors and essential elements that provide the health benefits in tea.


Camellia sinensis assamica

The Camellia sinensis assamica strain is native to the Assam region in India. This strain is usually used to produce black tea, as well as pu erh tea in Yunnan province, China.


High humidity, generous rainfall, and warm temperatures allow this larger, more robust tea variety to thrive. The Assamica plant will grow to between 30 and 60 feet if left unattended and produce much larger leaves.


Under perfect conditions, the Assamica plant can be harvested every 8 to 12 days throughout the year. Because of the tremendous yields, it is the preferred crop in Northeast India, Sri Lanka and Africa. The unique climate in Sri Lanka allows the harvest from this hardy bush to continue year-round.


The Assamica leaf is ideal for producing strong, malty black teas, as well as other Chinese teas that require longer production, as in the case of oolong and pu-erh.


Camellia sinensis cambodiensis

The third variety is Camellia sinensis cambodiensis (Java Bush), which has been crossbred to achieve certain traits in other cultivars. The Java Bush isn't typically used in commercial tea production.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn't to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.