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All About Tea
Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Active ImageSimple but true, antioxidants promote well-being. In fact: the more the better to boost your body into the disease prevention realm. Many studies are now showing that drinking tea may help to prevent heart disease and cancer with a dose of antioxidants in beverage form. On your next adventure, hydrating your body could take on a whole new meaning.



History records tea as long ago as Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was boiling drinking water when the leaves of a nearby bush fell into the pot creating the first pot of tea.

In the new millennium, scientific evidence is supporting the link between tea and health benefits.

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Research shows that the major antioxidants in tea, called flavonoids, neutralize the “free radicals” in the body – helping to maintain healthy cells and tissues. There are many different terms for the antioxidants in tea: flavonoids, tannins, polyphenols and catechins.

Flavonoids are special groups of antioxidant phytochemicals found in black and green tea, apples, onions, and other fruits and vegetables. The amounts and types of flavonoids found in tea depend on the variety, the manufacturing process, and the brewing conditions. The majority of the flavonoids are released after 2 minutes of steeping. Antioxidant levels remain the same whether the brewed tea is hot or cold. Research is still being done on whether adding milk, lemon, sugar or artificial sweetener to tea will impact the antioxidant benefits.

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Green, black, and oolong tea come from the leaves of a plant called Camellia sinensis, a member of the evergreen family grown in semi-tropical climates.

Black tea is produced when newly harvested leaves are crushed and exposed to air, changing the leaf color from green to brown and finally to black when dried.

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Green tea leaves are heated with steam that stops the enzyme activity allowing the green raw tea leaf to keep its color. Green and black teas are equal in antioxidant value, yet more studies need to be done on oolong tea and its benefits.

Herbal teas are made from a mixture of herbs, spices, leaves, flowers, and berries and could contain similar antioxidant compounds.

If consumed with meals, the flavonoids in tea partially inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron from plant food. The iron absorption from animal foods is not affected. Iron absorption can be enhanced by consuming lemon, a vitamin C rich food, with the tea.

Tea is also a source of fluoride that reduces plaque and prevents tooth decay. Green tea is promoted as a disease fighting phytochemical with potential benefits of preventing rheumatoid arthritis and boosting the immune system. Many consumers think green tea is caffeine free, but it actually has the same amount of caffeine as a brewed cup of black tea. Countries like Japan and China drink three or more cups of green tea daily and have a reduced risk of prostrate, breast, stomach and oral cancers.
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For a drink that has been around for thousands of years, tea has just started to gain widespread popularity and is becoming one of the fastest selling beverage products. Unsweetened, fresh-brewed tea has no fat, sugar or carbonation, and contains about one-half the caffeine found in a comparable cup of coffee, making tea a great coffee substitute.

Fall is a great time of the year to relax by the campfire with a cup of tea. Once again, health is not about eating one meal perfectly, but about combining food and drink with your life activities to provide optimal nutrition.


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