When Starbucks released their matcha tea latte in 2006, the tea had a chokehold on many tea fanatics. While matcha emerged as the tea forerunner at the time, herbal teas are the backbone of coffee shops across America. Chamomile, peppermint and ginger beverages have been gaining popularity. They’re not just fleeting or indie trends either; these teas have been used to treat ailments for thousands of years. So, go ahead and grab your teacups because we’re spilling the tea on tea.
As to be expected, black tea has remained one of the most common teas in United States for the past three centuries. Only recently have people begun to expand their palettes and opt for healthier options, such as matcha tea.
“Matcha’s having a moment, or it’s been having a moment,” said Devon Casher, a local Miami acupuncture physician who utilizes traditional Chinese medicine.
Casher has been practicing for seven years and is a firm believer in holistic medicine’s ability to heal and get in tune with the body. Chinese medicine is all about balancing the elements in your body.
Those elements are damp, fire, heat, cold and wind. For example, “a mild case of wind is a cold because it comes in hot,” Casher explains. In Florida, the weather is humid and sticky which makes our bodies damp. The bitter taste in matcha allegedly helps break down the dampness in the body.
“Matcha you should always have warm,” Casher says. Even though it’s hot here in Florida, to extract the most health benefits from the tea, she recommends you enjoy matcha in the purest form because “it helps activate the components better when it’s warm.”
With the winter season upon us, Casher recommends drinking ginger tea to keep your body warm, since ginger is a warming type of herb. Ginger tea is also good for your digestive system. In the body, digestion resembles heat and fire, “and you want to continue to feed the fire,” Casher explains.
Rabbi, software engineer, and physician of Chinese medicine, David Bottoms, who owns Healing Herbs in Fort Lauderdale, typically enjoys a cup of hot tea after meals because of how it supposedly helps with digestion. When asked about his go-to tea, Bottoms praised mint.
“I like mint tea. Living here in Florida, it is cooling, reduces sweating, helps treat rashes and upset stomachs, and deals with stress and anxiety. Of course, it tastes good too.”
He further explained that there are two types of teas: medicinal and non-medicinal. On a day-to-day basis, non-medicinal tea helps us by “reducing stress and dealing with everyday anxiety,” said Bottoms. For this reason, University of Miami freshman Ava Weidner drinks tea before bed.
“I just want something warm and cozy that will help me wind down,” Weidner says.
UM junior Abi Schcolnik can second this feeling as well.
“The winters in Uruguay can be pretty cold, and I just remember, even when I was a kid, my mom would give us tea after lunch and dinner,” Schcolnik recalled. “When I miss home, I make myself a little cup of tea.”
The amount of caffeine in tea improves cognitive performance while giving the consumer an added boost of energy, but not so much so that they won’t be able to get a good night’s rest. UM freshman Alexa Sauer highly recommends Tazo tea because they have a ton of great flavors and focus on sustainability.
“I drink [Tazo] tea the most in the early afternoon around 11 or 12. It helps me settle into my routine,” said Sauer.
3 Ways to Prepare Tea
Cold Brew Tea: Even though you extract the most health benefits from tea when it’s consumed warm, sometimes you’re in the mood for something refreshing that’s not water. To make cold brew tea, pour water over the tea leaves and leave them in the fridge to chill and steep for six to 12 hours. When tea is prepared this way, the taste is less bitter since it does not contain catechins which are released in hot water.
Kung Fu Style: Kung Fu is the Chinese traditional method to prepare tea which requires a specific teapot called a “gaiwan,” a special small tea pitcher called a “chai hai,” a kettle and a teacup. A tea tray and tea strainer are optional. Once the water has finished boiling in the kettle, pour the hot water over the gaiwan. Pour the water from the gaiwan into the chai hai, and from the chai hai into the teacup to preheat the vesicles. Next, measure out your tea leaves into the gaiwan, and pour the hot water from the kettle over the gaiwan. Quickly, remove the water. This is done to “awaken” the leaves. Once done, pour new water over the gaiwan and steep for 10 to 30 seconds. Pour the tea from the gaiwan into the chai hai, then from the chai hai into your teacup.
Western Style: To prepare your tea, you will need a tea kettle, whether it be a stovetop or an electric kettle, a teapot, teaspoon, mug and a tea strainer. To begin, boil your water in the kettle. Measure out a serving of loose tea in your tea pot using your teaspoon. Once the water is boiled, pour it into the teapot and let it brew for three to five minutes depending on the blend of tea. Once brewed, have your tea strainer ready and place it on top of your mug to catch the tea leaves. Pour your tea into the mug, add any additional mix-ins and enjoy.
A Starting Point
The “magic” of teas can be hard to understand if you don’t know where to start. So for you starters, here are a few popular ones here that are great to try.
Matcha: There is an ancient Japanese tradition associated with matcha called “chamei” which means “tea name.” During tea ceremonies, if a grandmaster found a particular blend of matcha pleasing, he would give the tea a chamei, and the blend would be known as the grandmaster’s “konomi,” which means “butcher block of leaf.”
Lemon Ginger: Just as winter comes, so does flu season. If you’re feeling congested or have a sore throat, lemon ginger tea can help. This tea opens your nasal passages while relieving you of your stuffy nose. If you have a sore throat, this tea eases the pain and fights against infection.
Raspberry: This tea has been drunk by pregnant women for centuries because it’s a blood builder and helps a lot of women in the labor and delivery process. However, more research is being conducted to determine whether the tea is truly effective. If you’re not an expecting mother, raspberry leaf tea contains both vitamins C and E which are antioxidants that get rid of loose electrons in your body which can damage your cells while also building up your immune system.
Chamomile: “Now give me a word, any word; and I will show you how the root of that word is Greek,” said Gus Portokalos in the 2002 film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Well, Mr. Portokalos, the word chamomile has the Greek root word “chamos” which means ground or earth and “melos” which means apple. When you put those two words together, it makes earth apple. Chamomile tea was given its name because it’s grown close to the ground and tastes like an apple.
English Breakfast: Nobody knows exactly how English Breakfast tea received its name, but there is a theory that in 1892 a Scottish tea master by the name of Drysdale began to market this black tea to be consumed over breakfast rather than just in the afternoon. People began to call it “Breakfast tea”. Once Queen Victoria tried this blend of tea prepared by Drysdale, she renamed it altogether and we’ve been calling it English Breakfast tea ever since.
words_ariella green. photo_lizzie kristal. design_valeria barbaglio.
This article was published in Distraction’s Winter 2023 print issue.
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