Most of us drink tea every day but rarely do people know what are the healing properties of this drink. For example, it can help you lose weight, make your hair silky, strong and shiny, or prevent a heart attack or a blood-stroke.
How to drink and use tea to make the most of it?
Tea ceremonies exist in many countries around the world. For example, in China, they drink tea pouring it on a statue of the Buddha. In Britain, special sandwiches are served with the traditional five o'clock tea. Russian used to drink tea from a samovar while biting round cracknels.
According to experts, tea is the most popular drink in our country. Surveys show that 95% of its population drink tea. Although many people guess that the drink is healthy, not many of them know what exactly its benefits are and how it impacts our body.
Since ancient times black tea has been used as a popular remedy against viral infections and to relieve fatigue. Its healing properties are also attested by the official medicine: according to research, tea helps to combat atherosclerosis, heart disease and even cancer. Nutritionists use it to prevent obesity, and cosmetologists appreciate its invigorating effect.
Each leaf of the Camellia sinensis tree (that is, the tea bush) contains several hundred different chemical components. During the processing, fresh leaves turn into dry twisted tea leaves and their properties change: some components oxidize, while others strengthen their action. A cup of good black tea is a treasure of biologically active substances: polyphenols, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and alkaloids. Each of them affects the human body in its own way.
Polyphenols are responsible for the astringent taste and bitter flavor of tea, while their compounds - flavonoids – convene the drink its famous antioxidant properties. Our cells are hectically and disruptively attacked by free radicals, active oxidizing agents that can seriously damage the cell molecules. Tea flavonoids, such as theaflavin, thearubigin and catechine, slow down their action and inhibit the disruptive process. According to a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, consuming three cups of tea reduces the risk of ischemic strokes, heart attacks and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Other studies show that antioxidants contained in tea help prevent diabetes, Alzheimer's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, reduce the risk of cancer, detoxicate the body and help reduce blood pressure.
Tianin, a unique 'tea' amino acid, has a stimulating effect on our brain, giving us a feeling of vivacity and boosting our spirits, helping to combat seasonal depression. The alkaloids – caffeine, theobromine and theophylline – help to reduce fatigue and increase our efficiency. Tea is rich in vitamins C and B6 (which stimulates the absorption of proteins in our body), as well as in folic acid, which is necessary for our immune system to develop. It also contains manganese strengthening our bones, potassium, actively participating in muscle contraction and proper functioning of the nervous system, and various fluorides preventing teeth and gum diseases.
Remember that the first brewing of tea leaves extracts 30 to 50% of their active substances, while the second one does only about 10 to 20%. That is why freshly brewed tea is much more healthy than diluted tea. To make the most of it, brew tea leaves or a tea bag with boiled water and let it rest for 3-5 minutes.
The positive effect tea has on metabolic processes has made it a 'secret weapon' of nutritionists. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that people who regularly drink hot tea have a smaller waist size and a lower body mass index. The experiments performed at the University of California in Los Angeles show that black tea changes the composition of bacteria in the intestines and reduces the number of bacteria whose activity contributes to weight gain. Nutritionists recommend: to lose weight by two or three kilograms per month, replace all drinks that you consume with unsweetened black tea and water. You need to drink at least 8-10 glasses of liquid per day. During tea time, enjoy the taste of your tea, rather than a candy or a biscuit that you are eating with it – sweets will cancel out the whole effect of your 'diet'.
Tea is a truly miraculous drink for athletes, too. First, it contributes to the dispersion of heat from the surface of the skin (in other words, contributes to rapid perspiration and helps to decrease the body temperature), which, in particular, saves jogging lovers from being overheated. Therefore, strong black tea with milk and sugar is a favorite drink of Kenyan athletes. Those are well-known to be the fastest in the world: 126 out of 158 world running competitions were won by athletes from Kenya. After a workout, they always drink a cup of tea: it relaxes their muscles and reduces pain the day after the intense exercise.
Tea can be used not only inside, but also applied externally to relieve edemas and strengthen blood vessels. It can serve as a base for preparing effective home made cosmetics. The simplest thing is to keep used tea bags in the refrigerator and take them out as necessary to apply for 5 to 10 minutes to the eye area to get rid of the "baggy" skin under your eyes. A toner solution will help to relieve inflammation on the problem-prone skin: you need to add a spoonful of lemon juice and a pinch of salt to a glass of strong tea, stir it, pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze. Every morning, once you have washed your face, wipe it with a tea cube. Twice a week, you can do an anti-wrinkle tea mask. Mix a tablespoon of strongly brewed black tea with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of finely ground oatmeal.
Brunettes and brown-haired women can also use a tea infusion to rinse their hair after washing: this will help to strengthen the hair weakened by curling and blow-drying and will accelerate its growth. Add two teaspoons each of high-quality dry black tea and rosemary (fresh or dried) to a liter of hot water, boil it on low heat for 10 minutes and strain. Use this infusion for a month every time you wash your hair.
How to choose your tea? Which tea benefits us the most? The concentration of microelements in quality loose leaf tea is higher than in tea bags. Be sure to check the composition indicated on the packaging: it should contain no artificial ingredients, dyes or flavors – otherwise, the drink will be harmful for your health. The humid and sunny environment of the highlands is considered to be the perfect climatic conditions for tea growing (that is why Kenyan tea is so highly valued); such conditions prevent pests from inhabiting the plants, and therefore no pesticides are needed.
Also check that the packaging remains intact and bears an indication of the manufacturer, the storage conditions and the expiry date.
Enjoy the taste and benefits!