Saturday, July 13, 2013

Teaology 101: I can't believe it's not tea!

Okay, now you know what tea is. Now, I’m going to tell you what is not tea. There are plenty of drinks on the market impersonating themselves as teas because we prepare and drink them much like, well, tea. There are the fruity beverages that include ingredients like apples, berries, oranges, and lemons on their own or combined with other ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, and ginseng. Then there are the botanical drinks that contain mint, jasmine, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, and of course chamomile. Also, there are lesser known, but, becoming increasing popular beverages, like rooibos and yerba mate. All these drinks are brewed much like tea: the ingredients are infused in hot water. However, because they do not contain the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, they cannot be classified as a tea. They are actually categorized as herbal teas or even better, tisanes. Go on….say it! TISANES!

Please do not shun the tisanes! There’s room for both! Tisanes have wonderful aromas, flavours and health benefits of their own. The following are just a few examples:

Peppermint is known to aid digestion, used as a cold and flu remedy, and contains cancer-fighting ingredients.

Chamomile soothes muscle, stomach and back aches, reduces feelings of anxiety, nervousness and depression, and can help induce sleep.

Hibiscus has been shown to lower blood pressure, maintain cholesterol levels, and prevent certain types of cancer.

Yerba mate is a plant found in South America. This is rich in antioxidants and can slow down the signs of aging, detoxify the blood, and control your weight.

Note: these are just the claims formed from research in labs. It’s best to discuss exactly what they can do for you with a nutritionist or a homeopathologist, which I am neither.

Many of these items can be combined with various types of teas to form a kickass drink with all the flavours, aromas and health benefits from both worlds. How does mint and green tea sound to you? What about a raspberry white tea? Maybe a red (black) tea with ginger and oranges is to your liking? You’ll find a lot of these interesting combo drinks at shops like
David’s Tea and Teavana. I can understand the allure of such beverages. Tea on its own is an acquired taste especially in the Western world where most people take their Red Rose tea with milk and sugar. Some tea lovers do fully understand the benefits of tea but can’t get past the taste. So, in order for them to reap the benefits of tea, they can go for these fusion drinks; they get the health benefits of green tea but enjoy it tasting like mint. With an added bonus, they get the health benefits of the mint too! A double-dose of goodness in a cup!

So, once again, tisanes are drinks that are brewed like teas but are not teas as they do not contain the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.

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