The Glory of Drinking Tea

Yesterday afternoon we took a trip to LAX to pick up our good friend from Taiwan. The best thing she brought for us was a package of Alishan High Mountain Tea. It is one of my favorite types of tea for a few reasons. Firstly, it is delicious. The best teas are grown at higher altitude. It takes longer for tea plants to start producing leaves for proper tea making but once they do, the tea has a richer flavor (due to the slower maturation of the plant and leaves). Secondly, I love Alishan tea because it reminds me of living in Taiwan. It was a great experience and I hope to go back again.

In case you are wondering, Alishan is the name of Taiwan’s highest mountain (somewhere around 13,000 feet). The tea is grown around 7,000 feet above sea level, so that gives you the name Alishan High Mountain Tea. Most of the Alishan tea is oolong tea. I highly recommend it.

Now that the long introduction is finished I can get to my thesis sentence (or something like that). Tea is great! That’s it. But seriously, as a drink, some teas possess great health benefits that have been documented in research studies. Drinking tea can also be a nice relaxing or social experience. Tea aficionados get really into and spend a lot of money and/or time seeking out rare and unique teas.

Before I lived in Asia, I was drinking Yerba Mate tea which hails from South America. This tea is great for energy as it has some special properties that other teas do not possess. Yerba mate does have caffeine but it also has some other compounds that help counteract caffeine crashes. This is a huge benefit for those needing a boost but sensitive to caffeine and especially caffeine crashes. Yerba mate purveyors also claim that the tea has a variety of other benefits although I haven’t seen any research studies performed on it yet. Come to think of it, I haven’t looked very hard. I will have to do that.

Green tea is another variety of tea that has many proven physical benefits. It is full of antioxidants, flavonoids, and it usually tastes great. If you think you do not like tea, you owe it to yourself to try great tea. Just like the difference between crappy beer and great beer or bad cheese and great cheese or even bad bread and good bread, there is a world of difference between high quality tea and low quality tea.

Green tea happens to be the least processed of the teas. This means it provides the most of the good stuff. Black tea is processed and fermented so it arrives at its stronger flavor and reddish brown coloring. Oolong tea is halfway between green tea and black tea. It is only partially fermented. These three tea varieties all come from the same tea plant. It the process the leaves go through after picking that allows them to arrive at their particular name or style if you will.

Tea is delicious. You should get into it. Oh, and one final thought. Most of the studies that find such great benefits to tea drinking use the amount of tea drank in Asia. This is about three cups a day. That’s way more than westerners drink, but it is not an insane amount by any means. Give it a try.