The Art of Tea
By Liz Ritter, Executive Editor |
Caffeine fanatics favor this ever-popular (it’s said 90 percent of the tea consumed in the world is black) choice. According to celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson, olong tea, black and green tea all come from the same source, an antioxidant-rich plant called Camellia sinensis. “Their main difference lies in the way they are processed, not in the amount of antioxidants they contain. Black tea and oolong tea leaves undergo a crushing and fermenting process,” she says. But besides its antioxidant arsenal, black tea also is high in tannic acid, while helps boost moisture levels in the skin.
There is a whole sect of tea that doesn’t come from leaves. Known as tisanes, or herbal teas, these teas come from flowers (like chamomile), herbs, spices and leaves, which are then combined with water. Since the components don’t come from tealeaves, they don’t contain caffeine, making them an option for those looking for a decaf option.
Best know for its excess of antioxidants, this delicately flavored tea has been a Far East fixture for centuries. “Green tea is not fermented; it’s made of steamed fresh leaves at high temperatures, thereby inactivating the oxidizing enzymes and leaving the polyphenol content intact,” says Simpson, who adds that studies have also shown green tea extracts are capable of reducing fat digestion by inhibiting the activity of certain digestive enzymes.
Also known as roobios, red tea rivals its counterparts as the antioxidant all star of the group. “Red tea is made from the dried leaves of a South African plant,” explains Simpson. “It is low in caffeine and tannins and offers a high level of antioxidants such as aspalathin, nothofagin and flavanones. Because of these properties, it is becoming a popular tea of choice amongst health-conscious consumers.”