Originating in China over 5,000 years ago, tea has stood the test of time as one of the most popular and healthy beverages available. Wars have been waged over it; ceremonies are devoted to preparing it; and two-thirds of the world’s population consume it.
Rich in antioxidants that may fend off disease-causing free radicals, boost memory, and even aid in weight management, scientific evidence continues to suggest tea is as good for the body as it tastes.
All teas are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. Different processing methods, harvesting times, and growing regions determine the many varieties available today. There are four principle types of tea – black, green, white and oolong.
Tea contains enzymes that interact with the oxygen in the air when a leaf is broken or crushed. This reaction is called oxidation or fermentation, and it causes the leaf to darken and increases its caffeine level. Once the leaf is heated and dried the oxidation process stops.
BLACK TEA – is fully oxidized and dried and has a smooth taste. Most of the teas on the market use black tea such as Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, English Breakfast etc. Generally you would add milk or lemon and a sweetener (sugar/honey) to black tea.
GREEN TEA – is unfermented tea. The leaves are quickly dried then heated and rolled, so it is not as processed as black tea. There is a great variety of green teas – some are light and mild tasting while others are grassy and vegetable tasting. You would not add milk to green tea. Green teas generally come from China or Japan.
OOLONG TEA – is a hybrid between black and green tea and is popular in China. The leaves are partly oxidized and some Oolongs are less fermented and more closely resemble green tea; other Oolongs are more fully oxidized and come closer to black tea. Generally you would not drink Oolong with milk or sugar – it has a strong flavour that holds its own.
WHITE TEA – has only recently become widely available and it is possibly the healthiest of all teas because it is the least processed. It’s picked before the leaf buds fully open, then it’s air dried or gently dried by steaming and that’s it. The buds are covered with fine white hair which gives the tea it’s white look. Like green tea, it is not fermented. White tea often has such a gentle flavour that it’s like drinking water. Now it is often blended with vanilla, spices and fruit flavours.
L-theanine, or theanine, is a water soluble amino acid that’s found in tea leaves. When you drink tea, l-theanine passes through the blood-brain barrier and affects the brain directly. Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, and improves memory and mood. Tea flavonoids have also been credited with many heart-healthy benefits. When consumed regularly, both black and green tea have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, reduce triglycerides, and improve blood flow.
There are really so many benefits to drinking tea; Oolong has been shown to slow the aging process, Green tea can be helpful in controlling inflammation from injury or diseases such as arthritis. Tea flavonoids may be bone builders and fight Osteoporosis. One of the flavonoids, the catechn epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is being studied as a potential cancer fighter. Studies have shown that both green and black tea kept healthy cells from turning malignant after exposure to cancer-causing compounds. Green tea is especially rich in EGCG.
Herbal Teas do not contain any part of the Camellia sinensis plant, herbal teas are not actually tea, but rather an infusion of fruits, herbs, and spices often called tisanes. Although not truly tea, many popular herbal tisanes are proving to be health superstars. African red rooibos tea is rich in heart-protecting antioxidants, and hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure.
PEPPERMINT TEA is great for soothing an upset stomach and helping digestion. It is also good for killing mouth bacteria and giving you good breath.
GINGER TEA is great for aiding with nausea, motion-sickness, as well as digestion.
DANDELION TEA is a great diuretic and also detoxifies the liver.
LICORICE TEA contains valuable iron salts and is a good laxative. It is also said to fight stress and fatigue. It may not be good for people with high blood pressure.
CHAMOMILE TEA is supposed to help with insomnia. The natural mineral phosphates in chamomile tea help calm nervous energy. People also bathe in chamomile tea if they have a sunburn or rinse their hair with it if they are blonde…it’s supposed to give blonde hair a shine.
However, be careful with some of these herbal teas if you have plant allergies…chamomile is a relative of the ragweed plant and if you suffer from allergies, you could have an unpleasant reaction from some herbals.
Join us for our Afternoon Tea in recognition of a 102-year tradition. Since 1914, pedestrians, cyclists, canoeists and motorists have enjoyed the customary English Tea at the Old Mill Toronto. Our Tea Menu includes a take home decorative gift box of our exclusive Centennial Tea Blend.