Ok I’m not a BIG tea specialist YET! However I am a Founding Member of The Tea Guild Of Australia and my Fiance Owen Terry is one of the Directors as well as a Tea Master specialist at Tea Total and YES OUR APARTMENT IS LIKE A TEA HOUSE! I’m learning quite a lot about tea, its history culture and health benefits. I have a few favorites but the three I currently adore are below:
- Pu’erh tea – is more of a rarity in comparison to other tea types. It has been used for years to control weight and aid digestion. It’s made with the same leaf as most teas, camellia sinensis, but the leaves are actually aged and fermented for months or years in cellars or caves in the Yunnan Province of China.
Health benefits – New studies with Pu-Erh Tea and health benefits have made a startling discovery; Pu-Erh does contain small amounts of lovastatin, which in synthetic form is commonly used to treat high cholesterol. Additional studies have shown that long term use of appropriate amounts of Pu-Erh teas have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and increase HDL levels (the good cholesterol).
Brewing methods – Pu’er tea is traditionally brewed using the gongfu method. This method calls for a larger amount of leaves to be steeped very briefly. As a result of the short steeping times, pu’er leaves are generally good for ten or more infusions. The temperature varies at around 95ºC for regular varieties and 85-90ºC for high-quality aged varieties. In a regular western tea pot rinse the tea first with boiling water, and pour off the water from the rinse into an empty glass. Puer tea is often aged or produced in conditions which would benefit from a bit of rinsing. Rinsing your tea serves a dual purpose of washing the tea of any dust or debris and priming the leaves for steeping. In some cases, a puer tea might have been pressed many years ago. A rinse with boiling water will “wake up” the leaves and loosen them from their compressed state. This tea is steeped for 30 seconds before it is ready but you can vary for your own taste.
- Rooibos Tea – The tea comes from the aspalathus linearis or red bush found in South Africa. This tea is caffeine free and self-sweetening. For those who are watching their health or weight, this is a great option to go for for that reason.
Health benefits – This tea is high in two unique polyphenols, including one that is only found in Rooibos called Aspalathin. It was also recently identified as a source of superoxide dismutase, a very powerful antioxidant. Research shows that these antioxidants may protect against the effects of free radicals. In fact, the South African Cancer Association has named Rooibos Tea as a leading source of anti-cancer compounds. This tea is also given to South African athletes for hydration and recovery.
Brewing method – According to Rooibostea.com it is preferable to brew rooibos tea leaves in heartily boiling water and keep the water hot for the entire time the leaves are steeping. One tip to keep the water warm is to place your steeping cup of tea on stove surface near the burner you just used. Rooibos tea has a longer steeping time than most other teas. The shortest amount of time it should steep is four to five minutes, but studies have shown that steeping rooibos tea for five to ten minutes greatly increases the amount of antioxidants and nutrients in the finished cup. I personally like rooibos tea iced – so refreshing and i’m sure there would still be quite high antioxidant counts!
- Oolong Tea – Oolong tea is often described as being between green tea and black tea, so it makes sense that steeping techniques usually fall somewhere in the middle, too. This is also a wonderful tea for re-steeping, and you can discover new aromas and flavors with each new infusion.
Health benefits – Several studies have revealed that oolong tea have biological activities such as antioxidative effects against lipid peroxidation, anti-inflammatory activity, antibacterial properties and anti-obesity. There are polyphenol compounds found in oolong that contain these antioxidants which activates certain enzymes, thereby enhancing the functions of fat cells in the body.
Brewing method – Oolong tea is often steeped in an Asian-style gaiwan or a clay Yixing teapot. These small-capacity vessels require a large volume of tea leaves and multiple short steeping times. This style is worth exploring if you are particularly interested in Chinese teas. However, oolong tea can also be steeped Western-style, using any teapot that you already have. The exact amount of time will depend on the particular tea, the size and shape of the leaves, and your personal preference. Leaf-style oolong teas typically infuse more quickly than ball- or rolled-style oolong teas. You may wish to taste the tea at the 1-minute mark and then every 30 seconds. The temperature should be between 90-100 Oc.