Would you have ever guessed that tea is the most enjoyed beverage around the world next to water?
Around the world, 2 billion people will drink tea every morning - green tea, black tea, chai masala, herbal tea...people are drinking it by the cupful.
In ancient times, tea wasn't sipped for pleasure but for medicinal purposes and as an aid to meditation. Taken by scholars, artists, musicians, creatives and royalty intentionally to help with clear thought, decision making, spiritual insight and the creative process.
In China, then Korea and Japan, once a humble drink afforded by everyone, the value of certain teas grew and became a luxury. Revered as a sign of wealth for gift giving as well as the beverage of choice at significant occasions or meetings.
Now tea is medicine for the soul when we need a little time out in a busy day.
Over the centuries and in most cultures, tea has been a part of daily life. Certain blends and recipes were drunk seasonally as various plants bloomed and helped to heal those suffering from ailments that occurred in the heat or cold of the corresponding growing season.
Drying of these plants enabled the benefits of tea to be used in its traditional use (as medicine) all year round. Preparation of tea leaves into tea cakes made it easier for transportation and tea then filtered across countries with travellers and traders.
Many plants in different cultures have been steeped to make a tea for medicinal use. In the villages, mothers made remedial teas from plants growing in their local fields and forests to care for their families, with recipes and folklore handed down from woman to woman over generations.
Herbal teas have been sipped to calm, detoxify, energise, cleanse, clear thought and improve focus, eliminate excess fluids and aid in weight loss, help with menstrual pain, childbirth, breastfeeding, for better digestion - especially before and after eating, improve sleeping ability, healthier skin, hair, nails.
Tea has been a friend to our health and wellbeing for the longest time.
The purpose as well as the type of tea flavours varied from culture to culture. Camellia Sinensis, the leaf from where we obtain black, white, green and matcha tea is most commonly sipped around the world.
Teas and herbal brews have a vast array of taste and aroma. They stimulate our taste buds across the palate with syrupy sweetness, bitterness, sour, spicy, floral, and earthy notes. Not surprising to tea drinkers, very surprising to those new to the pleasure of drinking tea.
Fruits, leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, branches and stems all can be made into deliciously delightful teas. No matter your personal taste buds, there is no end of flavour to be enjoyed. Their taste often being a clue as to their benefits to our health and wellbeing. For example, bitter herbs are beneficial to aiding digestion and liver ailments.
Taste along with appearance can help to connect to the benefits of brewing plants for remedial teas, with the Doctrine of signatures stating that herbs resembling various part of the body can be used by herbalists to treat ailments of those body parts.
Of course, not every plant is meant to be consumed, perhaps only topical use or not at all! A golden rule for tea, as with the use of aromatherapy essential oils, is to never lose your respect for the healing power of plants. Never assume that any plant or oil can be ingested or applied without knowledge of their actions and history, they are powerful!
Loose leaf, in our humble opinion, is always best for optimal flavour and permeation of the tea with the hot water.
Teabags are certainly very convenient, but there is no comparison to the fullness of flavour of loose leaf tea and the aroma as it brews.
A rule of thumb with brewing your tea is to appreciate the water should not be boiling hot but 'just off the boil'. This way you won't scald the tea but rather gently unleash the flavours within.
Different temperatures and times will benefit the brewing process of black, white and green teas such as oolong, Darjeeling and matcha ranging from 60-95 degrees C. For herbal teas such as chamomile, calendula, peppermint and blends, you are more focused on learning the strength of flavour you prefer with the quantity of tea and length of time for brewing.
Pour, sit and sip as you unwind and taste the bouquet of botanical bliss fill you up - Mother Nature's medicine for mind body and soul.
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