We Southerners love our sweet tea, whether it’s Luzianne, Lipton or even Tetley, we are accustomed to black tea leaves bagged, steeped or brewed, blended with sugar and served iced or refrigerated.
Tea is not just for Southerners, tea is famous around the world and in so many other forms, fashion and flavors, hot and cold. As a culinary student, when we studied International foods, I was impressed with the varieties and customs of tea in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo above courtesy of Flying Polack It was also interesting they served it in a curved glass to test temperature before drinking.
For today, for Melinda’s Heaven, we will focus on the Top Five Healthiest and Tastiest Tea Leaves. Researching the health benefits of tea consumption in general were outstanding. “Tea is a pleasant, popular, socially accepted, economical, and safe drink that is enjoyed every day by hundreds of millions of people across all continents. Tea also provides a dietary source of biologically active compounds that help prevent a wide variety of diseases. It is the richest source of a class of antioxidants called flavonoids and contains many other beneficial compounds such as vitamins and fluoride. A growing body of evidence suggests that moderate consumption of tea may protect against several forms of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, the formation of kidney stones, bacterial infections, and dental cavities.” Health Benefits
As appropriate, I asked friends and family what their favorite flavor of teas were. I got answers ranging from flowering jasmine, peach tea, several votes for green tea, cinnamon tea and my favorite raspberry tea.
One friend did know that drinking green tea on a regular basis was helpful for her thyroid. What these friends didn’t know that all teas start with a base of the top five tastiest tea leaves then the flavors are added. The top five include Green Tea, White Tea, Black Tea, Rooibos Tea (red) and Herbal Teas. It’s real interesting how much I learned when I visited our local Tea Room for High Tea with my sister. The tea plant starts with the root, which is where the black tea base comes from; the white tea leaves, which is more delicate and towards the tips of the leaves; and the green tea leaves which is everything in the middle. Rooibos tea is a naturally caffeine-free as well as the herbal tea. After the base, the sky is the limit when it comes to flavors. My sister and I were welcomed with a refreshing glass of Strawberry Basil Green Iced Tea. We then chose the Wild Blueberry Black Tea, the Black Raspberry Green Tea and the Cucumber Mint White Tea, all served hot. We were instructed adding sugar cubes was fine but definitely not to add cream to the hot green tea because it would curdle. So of course after this upscale educational experience, I had to go home and do some experimenting of my own.
Our host, Carol, at Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway, SC was very helpful in education and advice and contributed some fresh green tea leaves to my project.
I chose to make two iced teas, both using fresh frozen raspberries. One I used the green tea leaves and the other I used the black tea leaf bags. Hands down, my guests for Sunday dinner, loved the Raspberry Green Tea best. Another thing I learned was the steeping times for the different tea bases.
Experts, scientists, doctors, International cultures and friends may all disagree with their choice of flavors but all definitely agree the health benefits of a moderate consumption of tea is beneficial for a variety of health concerns.
More reading recommended at Medical News Today
Also recommended reading is Nutrition Reviews, Volume 58, Issue 1, [January 2000], Siro Trevisanato, Ph.D.
Tea Slide Show by Heather