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Articles The benefits of brewing tea this winter
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A cuppa health: the benefits of brewing tea this winter

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The rugs are well and truly out the cupboard, the heater is on, and you (or at least everyone else in your office) has got the dreaded sniffles…winter is definitely upon us. To complete the cosy picture, many of us like to sip a warming brew throughout the cooler months. But it’s not just the warmth, comfort and darn right tastiness of a good ol’ cuppa that has us popping the kettle on time after time; tea is also known to hold a host of health benefits. Tasty, cosy and good for us, too? What better reason to boil another brew.

These days, there are so many types of teas it’s hard to keep track, and even harder deciding what to pop in your shopping basket. Loose-leaf or tea bags, herbal or traditional, caffeinated or not, ice tea blends, chai spice blends…you name it, the list goes on. Luckily for us, they’re all delicious and there’s no ‘wrong’ choice of tea. However, there are certain types that are beneficial for different ailments, and things to look out for – tips and tricks – when purchasing and brewing your next cup.

We spoke to Amanda David of the Fleurieu Peninsula’s The Dandy Tea Co. about all things brewed and steamy, and what she recommends for our winter sips.

What are the health benefits of tea?

The list of health benefits for tea is just about endless, depending on the type of tea, blend, format, origin and way it’s brewed. Like most things, trust your gut, take a few words of advice and try different types and tastes that suit what you like, and your body responds to.

“It’s such a hard one to pinpoint the exact health benefits because there are so many teas to choose from,” Amanda says. “Traditional teas are generally packed full of antioxidants, can also promote heart health, aid in weight loss, circulation and many more benefits. Although the health benefits of fruit and herbal blends can be as limitless as your ingredients.”

Amanda says winter is the perfect time to get yourself some herbal and fruit blends, to help keep those nasty colds and flus at bay. “Any Camellia Sinensis (tea leaves) are generally fantastic for health, but the herbal and fruit ingredients are so broad and so unique in health benefits, too. I always recommend a great fruit or herbal tea in winter, especially with ginger, turmeric or citrus to support the immune system.”

When it comes to boosting your energy, Amanda says herbal or fruit teas containing wild hibiscus can be an excellent jolt of energy, while peppermint teas can assist in your digestion. If you’re looking for something in particular, head to your nearest boutique grocer and ask – many stock local teas these days, and can give you tips and tricks for the best blends for what ails you.

Other popular teas to give your body a helping hand include ginger blends and chamomile. Ginger is said to reduce nausea, while chamomile is often used to relax the mind and body and aid in fighting colds, too.

Is tea caffeinated?

If you still love the traditional pick-me-up of a caffeinated coffee, don’t forget some teas still contain caffeine. “If the brew is from a Camellia Sinensis plant, it will contain caffeine. The most popular examples of this are your black, Green, white and oolong teas.”

On the contrary, if your tea is purely fruit or botanical, it’s likely to be completely caffeine free, which is great if you’re having several cups a day and need to cut back on the caffeine intake.

How should we brew tea and how much should we drink?

While everyone is different, Amanda says four cups a day is generally a good guide for maximising the health benefits of tea. But when it comes to brewing, she says the biggest mistake is often burning your tea leaves. “It all depends on what tea you are brewing, but temperature recommendations can range from 60 to 90 degrees, and anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes brew time. It is important to pay attention to your tea to maximise the health benefits and to avoid burning the leaves.”

Loose leaf or tea bags?

There’s a seemingly larger section of teas in the supermarket and local grocer every time we visit – they come in boxes, bags, tubes, tins…the list goes on. It can be hard to know what to choose, and what’s best for you.

Aside from general ease and convenience of tea bags, the only difference between the two is generally how much processing has gone into a tea bag, as opposed to loose leaf teas. These days, however, plenty of boutique tea companies are crafting their own unique tea bags from their handmade loose leaf blends. Take a read of the labels, where it’s been grown or made, and get to know what’s in your cup.

“Generally, loose leaf is far less processed than bagged tea, which will not only give you a better flavour but will also provide you with greater benefits.”

Amanda says a quick glance at your tea’s labels or boxes can tell you more than you think about what you’re brewing. “The general rule is to get to know the seasonal availability of your favourite tea as well as look for terms such as small batch, organically grown and ethically grown or ethical practices.”

Go on, fetch your favourite mug, pop the kettle on and enjoy a beautiful, beneficial brew.

If you’d like to try Amanda’s teas (The Dandy Tea Co.), find her at Willunga Farmers Market (Saturdays 8.00am – 12.30pm). 

Note: Amanda and our writers are not health professionals, so it’s important to consult your local nutritionist or doctor for any specific health-related information. Amanda is a tea blender.

Other local tea’s to look out for:

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