Tea has been a hot commodity for centuries and has been popularized by different cultures throughout time.
It’s also long been believed that drinking tea offers health benefits other drinks do not. While science has flip-flopped over whether coffee is good for you or not, Jessica Boyd, founder and CEO of Tea Sip, a Heights shop with a mission to make tea approachable, says tea is a better alternative to coffee.
“Tea also gives you a more calming awakeness for those looking to move away from the coffee jitters,” Boyd said.
She also mentioned that caffeine-free tisanes, herbal infusions, were popular options for people cutting out caffeine and that they come with a variety of health benefits depending on the herb.
All true, non-herbal teas are also packed full of antioxidants, which are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by unstable molecules.
Green tea is most often associated with antioxidants, but white tea contains more. Coffee also contains antioxidants, just a much lower amount than white tea.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, people who drink tea at least three times a week have a higher chance of living longer and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
“We believe all tea is good for you, so we encourage new tea drinkers to find something they love,” Boyd said. “The more you enjoy drinking your tea, the more you will drink it, and the more you will enjoy the health benefits.”
At Tea Sip, 321 W. 19th St., the teas are blended primarily on flavor and not necessarily on specific health benefits. However, Boyd recommends Tea Sip’s Soothe Tisane for a sore throat.
What some people may not realize about the six types of tea — white, green, oolong, black, dark and yellow — is that they all come from the same plant. The difference in the teas is how the leaves are processed. Oxidation also plays a large part in distinguishing the different categories.
“There are several different steps a tea can go through (and) not all teas go through all steps — plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation, firing, sorting, sweltering, fermentation,” Boyd said. “Outside these six different tea categories, you also have tisanes, or herbal infusions, which can be caffeinated or caffeine free.”
There’s various ways to prepare tea and different cultures do it differently. The western way is one hot steep for a few minutes, plus iced tea. Cold brewing, nitro and kombucha have also become popular in America.
“Chai wallahs in India make spiced milk teas, which have also become quite popular in the U.S., and Morocco loves strong mint teas,” Boyd said. “China, the birthplace of tea and the only place where every tea type is made, has developed a variety of ways to make tea throughout the ages.”
Boyd added that every tea drinker has their own individual ways and rituals around tea making and drinking, and that there’s no wrong way as long as the sipper loves it.
For new “sipsters,” as Boyd calls people new to the wide world of tea, she recommends smelling different teas to narrow down what smells good to them, and then testing it out before buying it just to make sure the drinker will love it steeped in a cup.