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A wide range of teas are becoming available in cafes and tea rooms, besides the typical bags of poor quality, strong, black tea. Sometimes the variety can be overwhelming and we find ourselves wondering which one should we choose.
Choosing a tea depends on the moment and the mood we are on. There are five different varieties of tea: black tea, green tea, white tea, Pu-erh tea and oolong (also known as blue tea).
Black tea is the most common, but also the less interesting health wise. Its caffeine will clear up your mind and, because is a vasodilator, it can help relieving some pains, like headaches and period pains. Drinking black tea too often can affect the nervous system and make you lose zinc, which is essential to our bodies. Some very spiced black teas (like Chai or Pakistani) are prepared in milk instead of water. They are very useful to get warm in winter. Black tea should be infused in boiling water for no more than 3 minutes (a little bit more if you are preparing it in milk). It should get bitter, if it does it will have a bad effect in your digestion.
Green tea is also very common. It is very antioxidant (keeps your body young) and helps eliminating liquids. Sometimes is even more stimulating than black tea, so we have to be very careful with the infusion time. Two minutes is enough in most cases. Green tea should be prepared with water below the boiling temperature. Turn off the heat the moment you see little bubbles raising to the surface of the water. Green tea is anticancer, helps preventing dental cavities, fortifies your bones, improves your memory and keeps sugar levels under control, among other benefits.
White tea is very similar to green tea. It is a very special tea, because it is chosen from the tenderest buds and leaves of the plant and contains a big amount of vitamin C. It has been called “the elixir of youth” because it is very antioxidant. Its caffeine levels are very low. Like green tea, it should be brewed in water below the boiling temperature, for no more than a couple of minutes.
Pu-erh tea is a very special tea, especially because, if stored properly, it can be stored indefinitely and its taste improves with age. Authentic Pu-erh is traditionally pressed into shapes and only can be found in a couple of tea shops in Spain (and it is not cheap). Pu-erh tea has an earthy and very intense taste. It helps lowering cholesterol levels. Water should be just below boiling temperature to brew this tea, and it should be let to infuse for about 4 minutes.
Oolong tea is a semi fermented tea, between black and green tea. It helps regulate colesterol levels, strengthens the immune system and is also very antioxidant.
To prepare a cup of tea, do not forget to warm up the teapot with boiling water, and count one teaspoon for each guest and another one for the teapot. According to folk wisdom, if someone serves you tea twice, you will fall in love with them.
Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Asociación Cazalla Intercultural