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THE MYSTERY BEHIND TEA, IT’S HEALTH IMPLICATIONS & NINE WAYS TO TURN IT INTO AN IMPRESSIVE DRINK

There are various legends surrounding the origins of tea. Perhaps the most famous is the Chinese story of Shen Nung, the emperor and renowned herbalist, who was boiling his drinking water when leaves from a nearby tea shrub blew into the cauldron. He tasted the resulting brew, and the beverage of tea was born. An alternative story claims that links tea drinking to the Indian prince Bodhidharma, who converted to Buddhism in the sixth century and went to China to spread the word. He believed that it was necessary to stay awake constantly for meditation and prayer, and took to chewing leaves from the tea shrub, which acted as a stimulant, helping him stay awake.
Tea was certainly known as a beverage in the time of Confucius (c.551-479 BC) and grew in popularity during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). By the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), tea was the national drink of China, spreading from court circles to be popular throughout Chinese society. It was during this time that the practice developed of sending the finest teas to the emperor’s court as a tribute to him.
Nigeria produces tea and other herbs such as hibiscus, used in herbal teas. commercial tea planting started in 1982 since its introduction into Nigeria around 1952. Nigeria produces black tea with labeled ‘Highland tea’. Lipton first came to Nigeria in 1959 under the Van Den Bergh Foods Company. In 1972 however, Unilever acquired the worldwide Lipton Tea Business. Lipton became Unilever Nigeria’s brand in 1985.
It is a known fact and so it will not be wrong to say that the Northern part of Nigeria consisting majorly of the Hausa is the highest tea consuming part of the country. Tea is usually part of their breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it is also a beverage to entertain guests. It is a common sight to behold every corner of the streets filled with “mai chai” (tea master) who brew and sell tea per cup especially to meet the need of people who are working on the move and in shops and do not have the time to take a break to boil water and brew their own cup.
All types of tea come from the same basic plant, the Camellia Sinensis plant. The differences between teas arise from processing, growing conditions, and geography. The Camellia Sinensis plant is native to Asia but is currently cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical areas. With over 3,000 varieties, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water.
Tea can be divided into six basic categories: black, dark (including puer), oolong, green, and white.
Black tea is allowed to wither, which precedes a process called oxidation (sometimes incorrectly referred to as fermentation) during which water evaporates out of the leaf and the leaf absorbs more oxygen from the air. Black teas usually undergo full oxidation, and the results are the characteristic dark brown and black leaf, the typically more robust and pronounced flavors of black teas, and when brewed appropriately, a higher caffeine content compared to other teas (50-65% of coffee, depending on the type and brewing technique).
Dark tea is from Hunan and Sichuan provinces of China and is a flavorful aged probiotic tea that steeps up very smooth with a natural slightly sweet note.
Oolong tea (also known as Wulong tea) is allowed to undergo partial oxidation. These teas have caffeine content between that of green teas and black teas. The flavor of oolong (wulong) teas is typically not as robust as blacks or as subtle as greens but has its own extremely fragrant and intriguing tones. Oolongs (wulongs) are often compared to the taste and aroma of fresh flowers or fresh fruit.
Green tea is allowed to wither only slightly after being picked. Then the oxidation process is stopped very quickly by firing (rapidly heating) the leaves. Therefore, when brewed at lower temperatures and for less time, green teas tend to have less caffeine (10-30% of coffee). Greens also tend to produce more subtle flavors with many undertones and accents that connoisseurs treasure.
White tea is the most delicate of all teas. They are appreciated for their subtlety, complexity, and natural sweetness. They are hand-processed using the youngest shoots of the tea plant, with no oxidation. When brewed correctly, with a very low temperature and a short steeping time, white teas can produce low amounts of caffeine. Of course, steeping with hotter temperature and longer time will extract more caffeine. But by definition, white tea does not have less caffeine than other teas.
Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol, and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities.
“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.
Some studies have found the potential health benefits of tea for instance, Green tea has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
Black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect the lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke. White tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas. In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
Made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots steeped in hot water, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. Their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used. Varieties include ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, ande, rose hip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea.
Limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas, but there are claims that they help to shed pounds, stave off colds, and bring on restful sleep.
You may think that making a cup of tea is probably the easiest task in the kitchen but it can definitely be tricky. Everyone has their own preferences and to get that cup of tea right each time requires some skill. The ingredients need to be in proportion, the ratio of milk to water should be right and it needs to be brewed just enough to make boost the flavors. Once you’ve mastered the perfect recipe and technique, it’s time to experiment.
Whether you’re planning a tea-party or if you feel that life has become a bit monotonous, here are 9 ways to turn your regular cup of tea to an impressive drink.
1. Fruit Infused Tea
A lovely concoction of brewed tea, citrusy orange chunks, sweet berries, ginger, and mint leaves.
2. Honey-Lemon-Ginger Tea
 This one is the perfect cure for a day when you are feeling a bit under the weather. Just sip on it gently and feel the difference.
3. Mango and Peach White Iced Tea
A refreshing twist to the usual fare, this iced tea is bursting with sweet seasonal flavors of mango and peach fruit.
4. Chamomile, Apple and Mint Iced Tea
A lovely blend of soothing chamomile tea along with apples and fresh mint leaves. This can be the perfect stress buster.
5. Masalewali Chai
You regular cup of tea spruced up with a heavy dose of aromatic spices. It can be your ideal companion on a rainy day along with your favorite book.
6. Cherry and Ginger Iced Tea
When sweet cherries are combined with zingy ginger, it gives you a delicious drink with a kick. This one is a crowd pleaser, try it for your next high-tea.
7. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is herbal, caffeine-free and is known to induce good sleep. It is made by steeping delicate and aromatic chamomile flower petals in hot water.
8. Kahwa 
This comforting tea hails from Kashmir and is made with regional green tea leaves and is infused with a range of spices, saffron, and nuts.
9. Detox Haldi Tea
A perfect combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients, haldi tea consists of a number of health benefits.
Make tea-time special with one of these unique creations. You’ll definitely thank me later😉😉

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