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What Is The Healthiest Type Of Tea?

With so many different types of tea in the world, it can be difficult to find the perfect type of tea for you. What is the world’s healthiest tea - black, green, white, or herbal?

As you might know, black, green, and white tea all comes from the same plant – the Camellia sinensis plant. Depending on the processing techniques used, Camellia sinensis can turn into black, green, or white tea.

The tea blends made from the Camellia sinensis plant have been linked to several powerful health benefits. Here are a few of the health benefits of black, green, and white tea blends:

-Weight loss (due to caffeine and other ingredients)

-Increased levels of antioxidants that target free radicals

-Polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins benefit various areas of your body

Some tea blends have specific benefits that other tea blends do not have. For example, black tea has been said to protect lungs from smoke damage and reduce the risk of a stroke. Black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai. In many cases, tea that has health benefits will simply be classified as wellness tea.

The rich antioxidants in green tea have also been said to combat all sorts of different diseases, including neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Since green tea is not oxidized as much as black or white tea, it generally tastes more natural.

Meanwhile, white tea has powerful anticancer properties that make it healthier than virtually any other type of tea, and oolong tea has been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

One of the most popular types of tea in terms of health benefits is Pu-erh tea. Made from fermented and aged tea leaves, China Pu-erh tea has been linked to reduced weight gain and lower levels of LDL cholesterol.

Herbal tea, on the other hand, is made from various herbs and spices. Although science has yet to research many of the benefits of herbal tea, herbal tea drinkers have reported a number of different benefits, including everything from positive mood changes to anticancer properties.

The answer

In short, all tea blends made from Camellia sinensis features similar health benefits. However, the way the tea is packed can affect its healthiness as well.

Tea experts suggest that loose tea blends are healthier than those packed in bags. In addition to being more flavorful, loose tea blends tend to contain more antioxidants. After all, tea bags limit the surface area of the leaves that is exposed to the water. With loose tea blends, the entire leaf is exposed, which means more nutrients and flavor is drawn into the surrounding water.

Herbal Tea Blends - The different choices

Although it is most commonly referred to by the moniker “herbal tea blends”, the vast varieties of steeped herbal beverages that are enjoyed all over the world are not really teas at all.  In fact, tisanes (the more accurate term for herbal teas) don’t even come from the same plant as true teas.  Black, white, green, and oolong tea have the same source:  the camellia sinensis plant.  The distinctive appearance and taste of any type of true tea comes from how the leaves are prepared once they are harvested.  Altering the amount of time camellia sinensis leaves are given to dry and oxidize determines the style of tea that will result; the more time tea leaves spend in the curing process, the stronger and bolder they will be. 

While tisanes packaged, sold, and prepared in the same way as true teas, their origins could not be more different.  True teas are made exclusively from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant.  Tisanes can have a variety of sources; the most common sources are the South American yerba mate plant, the South African rooibos bush, and any number of herb plants native to all parts of the world.  They can be made by drying different parts of the plants from which they come.  Tisanes are typically categorized by the part of the plant that is used to make them.  Many tea drinkers would be surprised to learn that a large number of the most common “teas” on the market today are actually tisanes:  mint and lemongrass (leaf tisanes), chamomile and lavender (flower tisanes), peach, raspberry and apple (fruit tisanes), ginger and Echinacea (root tisanes), cinnamon and black cherry (bark tisanes), and fennel and cardamom (seed or spice tisanes).  Unlike camellia sinensis, the plant sources of tisanes are used for much more than their leaves.  Because they come from such a wide range of plants and plant parts, tisanes offer many more options in flavor than true teas.  The wide variety of tisane flavors is often used to create flavored tea blends; true teas are mixed with tisanes to create varieties such as Chai.

Tisanes of all kinds have been steeped for centuries.  The ancient civilizations in Egypt and China left behind documented uses of tisanes for medicinal purposes as well as their general consumption for enjoyment.  Either in pure form or blended from various plant sources, tisanes were thought to have had a wealth of healthy properties that could ease anxiety and help to restore health.  Tisanes continue to be popular for both their delicious flavors and health benefits today.  They are naturally caffeine free (even decaffeinated true teas still contain trace amounts of caffeine), rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and are available in a broad array of flavors and blends.  No matter what your taste preferences are, you’re sure to find at least a few tisanes that satisfy your palate.  Tisane varieties are just as readily available, easy to prepare, and maybe for some even more tasty than true teas.

Tea Culture in Taiwan

In Taiwan, loose leaf tea was first used as a medicinal plant. However, over the years it has developed into much more than that. The main reasons why tea has developed into something meant for relaxation is mainly because of who inhabited Taiwan in its early days. The Taiwanese tea culture can be traced back hundreds of years and has similarities to Dutch, Chinese and Japanese tea cultures.


The Dutch occupied Taiwan for about forty years in the 1600’s. They used the area as a trade post between China and Europe. Importantly, tea was introduced to Europeans by the Dutch and simultaneously left an impression on the people of Taiwan. Tea was grown by the Dutch on a very small scale in Taiwan during the time that they occupied the area but most of the tea that the Dutch consumed in the area was imported to them. At the time of the Dutch occupation, it is thought that there were a large number of Chinese immigrants that began to move into the area. These immigrants were believed to bring with them a good supply of tea seedlings in addition to their unique tea culture. Mass production of tea did not begin in Taiwan until the mid to late 1800’s. The local Chinese farmers began to grow the tea in large volumes and even established a tea factory in 1868. Believe it or not, shortly thereafter tea was exported to New York in the United States. Because of this, tea was one of the most important export commodities for the people of Taiwan. Tea simply became a daily beverage and way of life to the people. Like in other cultures, it is always offered on special occasions such as family gatherings or birthdays.


Much of the current tea culture in Taiwan comes from Japanese influence. The Japanese occupied the area from around 1900 to the end of World War II. While there, the Japanese organized the production of tea as well as the industry as a while. They were responsible for the promotion of Taiwanese tea to the world and expanding its market. At this time the Japanese inhabitants developed testing facilities for tea that were responsible for developing some of the world’s most popular flavors. To this day many of them are still very popular all around the globe. At the end of the war the Japanese had to give control of Taiwan back to the people of China. The Chinese further developed the tea culture from that point in time until present day. This unique culture is what has helped to make Taiwanese tea as popular as it is today.


In Taiwan, the typical family owns a minimum of one set of teaware that is used at home. In fact, many families own more than one set for use depending on the occasion. The teapots are used to brew tea until the surface area of the pot becomes a bright color. This is raising the teapot, which is all part of the culture. Raising the pot is a tradition that is believed to add beauty to the process. A nice collection of teaware can generally be found at any store in Taiwan. It is important to note that there are many other pieces of teaware that are important in addition to the pot.


Things such as a decanting vessel are necessary and used to make sure that the tea has the proper flavor as well as level of consistency. Other things such as a tray should be present in order to hold spills should there be an accident. All of these items are necessary in order for tea to be served properly. Since the tea culture is so important it is necessary to get the process of making and serving tea correct. In fact, serving tea in Taiwan is thought to be something that is done to show respect to your guests. That said, getting the process correct is of the utmost importance. Depending on who your guests are it may even be necessary to serve the tea with your finest teaware as you want to make a good impression on them.


Tea culture in Taiwan is something that has been influenced by other cultures all across the world. These influences have helped create a totally unique culture that is valued by the people that live in this country. The culture of tea in Taiwan is ever developing and will remain strong for years to come.

Moroccan Tea Culture

Moroccan tea culture can be defined as the way loose leaf tea is prepared and consumed in Morocco itself. In many cases the tea that is used is green tea as opposed to another form of tea that can be found somewhere else in the region. Moroccan tea culture has become so popular that it has spread through other parts of North Africa as well as parts of Southern Spain.


In Morocco tea is thought to be a very important part of society and culture. Because of this the tea culture is generally described as an art form. The popularity of tea in this area is one of the major reasons why Morocco is one of the biggest importers of tea in the world. Considering the fact that tea is relatively new in Morocco it is hard to believe that it is so well respected. Tea was not introduced to the area until the 1700’s. By this time people were already developing tea traditions and culture in different countries all over the world. However, it was not until this time when trade really began to become popular between Morocco and Europe. By the mid 1800’s the tea industry in Morocco was really growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, there is even a story that royalty from Morocco was bribed with tea in sugar in exchange for releasing European prisoners. This shows just how sought after tea was in Moroccan culture in the early days.


To date, the main provider of tea to Morocco is still China. The fact of the matter is that it has been estimated that Morocco usually imports over 50-million dollars’ worth of Chinese tea every six months or so. This number is astronomical when you consider that the population of Morocco is much smaller than the population of other countries that the Chinese export tea to. Even though the population is small, Morocco is thought to be the first and best importer of Chinese green tea in the world.


One of the things that makes tea so unique in Morocco is that it is really rather difficult to prepare. The method of preparation is much more involved than in other parts of the world. For starters, there is generally a large lump of hard sugar used along with fresh mint. These are actually two of the most important ingredients there are. The tea itself is cleansed with boiling water that is thought to remove any imperfections from the tea as well as help it taste more pure. The tea leaves and the boiling water are combined together and boiled for a few more minutes in order to prepare for the sugar. The sugar and even the mint are now added and mixed together in a teapot with a long spout. Using a teapot with a long spout will allow the tea to be poured into multiple small glasses for consumption.


If you are interested in learning more about tea culture in Morocco then you can visit one of the tea houses that are indigenous to the area. Most large cities will have several tea houses that will serve you the best local teas as well as the most popular teas from around the world- including China. The tea houses in Morocco are general known for having a relaxing atmosphere where you can sit quietly and be alone with your thoughts. While you are there you may want to sample one of the local pastries or cookies that are baked to go along with the tea itself. These pastries are specially made to compliment the taste and aroma of some of the best tea in Morocco.


Tea in Morocco is also used as a way to get families to spend more time together. Tea will be served at most important family functions such as weddings and birthday parties. The fact that tea is present will signify that the event taking place is important. The host of the event will be responsible for making sure that everyone in attendance gets to enjoy the tea. Making sure that each person has tea is a way to show respect to your guests. This is a very important part of Moroccan tea culture. If you do not make sure that everyone is taken care of there is a chance that they will become insulted with you. In Morocco you have to make sure that you are observing tea traditions in order to guarantee you are well received and respected by your guests.

Tea Production

Within all tea growing regions, merely a top leaf bud and the next two leaves, the youngest ones of a spout are picked. More mature leaves have an undesirable impact on the quality of the processed teas. In the mountains, therefore cooler regions, tea naturally matures slower. This lets the especially high-quality, aromatic characteristics to envelop. The actual cropping period also has a tremendous influence on the quality of the tea. The plucking necessitates a lot of proper care along with skills set and is commonly performed by women. The standard plucking volumes are roughly 35 to 53 lb of green leaves a day which produces 9 to 13 lb of processed tea. A few times per day, the green leaves are delivered to the manufacturing facility in the tea garden. The green leaves are still absolutely neutral in fragrance and initially will be handled in the tea production line, going through numerous production procedures, in order to generate a savory final product.


Processing


Tea gets processed on the plantations in the country of origin and after that, exports in its finished form. The most essential steps of the procedure with respect to orthodox tea production (which may be utilized for the manufacturing of any kind of tea desired in contrast to the subsequently described CTC production) are: withering, rolling, fermenting, drying and sorting into leaf and broken grades of different sizes.


Withering


When the freshly picked leaves arrive at the manufacturing facility, they are weighed and the quantity is documented. After that, the withering process is initiated where the moisture content of the leaves is diminished by approximately 30% in order to make them tender and workable for the following step - rolling. The withering takes place in a specific withering troughs 80 to 100 feet long that are usually stringed with a wire grid and ventilated by big fans. The leaves are distributed out on the grid. The air flow that moves through the ventilators can easily be heated up when needed due to greater moisture content of the leaves. The withering process requires 12 to 18 hours.


Rolling


Hereafter, the withered green leaves are thrown in the rolling equipment, which commonly consists of a pair of big, hefty metal plates that are spinning in opposition direction to each other and are bruising the leaves, opening their cells, providing the cellular juice into contact with the oxygen in the air flow. This process begins the fermentation step as well as the occurrence of the essential oils that then establish the aroma and the flavor of the teas. Now rolled tea will begin fermentation in a dedicated fermentation room. A lot of tea production facilities use so-called "rotor vane" equipment, a sort of shredder that further processes the leaves. The leaves move throughout a slowly spinning screw conveyor via a tube where presence of oxygen speeds up the fermentation process.


Fermentation


The fermentation is an oxidation and tanning process of the cellular essential oils, which are produced during the rolling process. Intended for the fermentation, the leaves are spread out on workstations in 4 inches layers. Advanced tea producing factories humidify the area where the fermentation takes place. During the fermentation, which usually takes 2 - 3 hours, tea leaves alter their color that progressively turns into a copper-red. This color is observed in infused tea leaves. The "tea maker" is required constantly measure the degree of oxidation, especially with regard to the aroma of the wet leaves. The superior quality of the end product depends on the accurate fermentation.


Drying


The fermentation is completed when the ideal grade of fermented product is achieved. In other words as soon as tea develops its typical fragrance and the copper-red color, the drying process begins. So-called tiered dryers are used. They are powered with wood or oil. Tea moves through the dryer on a conveyor belt. The beginning temperature is about 190 degrees that helps to bind the cellular oils solidly to the leaves. Towards the end of the 20 minutes long drying procedure, the temperature decreases to 100 degrees and the humidity content to approximately 6%. Later on, whenever tea is brewed, the essential oils that stuck to the dried leaves are dissolved in the hot water and produce the aromatic and stimulating beverage.


Sorting


The black tea produced via the drying process or the so-called raw tea, now will be sieved by a variety of shaking mechanical sieves with different sieve sizes, in which the typical leaf grades are separated  from each other.
Based on the sieve sizes, sorting typically yields the following grades: leaf tea, broken tea, fannings and dust. Typically, the smaller the leaf, the stronger the infusion.
Tea is a natural product, which is created by reducing its moisture content. It should be stored in a cool and dry area. Tea maintains its original flavor when kept in a tightly sealed container, away from powerfully smelling food items such as spices.


Green Tea Production


Green Tea differs from black tea merely by not being fermented, other words not altered by oxidation. The manufacturing process is generally the same until the end of the withering process. Throughout green tea production, tea tannins and enzymes are destroyed by steaming or roasting after the withering. Before the rolling starts, tea is "steamed” or "pan-fried" and then rolled and dried. This guarantees that the leaves will not change their color, they will remain olive-green. The color of infusion varies depending on the kind of green tea, cultivation region, and plucking period and can be anything from light yellow to dark green.


CTC-Production


This term means: crushing, tearing, curling.

This technique starts by withering the green leaves, then rolling them once before they are torn in the CTC machines in between thrones rollers. This method makes sure that the cells are broken up more extensively and rapidly compared to the orthodox tea production. CTC tea has the most intensive color and greater yielding. The stems and leaf ribs are removed, only the cut "flesh" of the green leaves is processed further. After this process, tea is delivered into the fermentation area. Depending on the preferred leaf size, this procedure is repeated numerous times.
During the CTC-Production, primarily fanning is made, no leaf teas and only very few broken teas. Therefore, CTC teas are very appropriate for tea bags. In the present day, 50% of tea produced in India and almost 100% in Kenya by using the CTC technique. In Darjeeling, however, only orthodox tea is manufactured.

The most essential grades are:
BP = Broken Pekoe
PF= Pekoe Fannings
PD = Pekoe Dust