For many of you tea is a new experience. Maybe you decided to add it to your diet because you keep hearing about its promising health benefits, or because you are trying to cut down coffee or because you are curious to taste the different varieties and flavors that occasionally become popular.
Whatever the reason for your tea drinking is, there are a lot of myths about tea out there that tend to mislead tea starters. In this post, I have listed 7 of the most stubborn tea myths that people keep repeating and are simply not true.
#1 Tea doesn’t expire
A lot of people are under the impression that tea doesn’t have an expiration date. Even if that may be partially true since consuming old tea will likely not harm you, at the end of the day you have to remember that tea is an agricultural product and thus it gets stale the longer you keep it. The shelf life of tea depends on a variety of factors such as the kind of tea and the way it was stored. Usually tea bags and loose leaves have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year from the day of picking (not packing), if stored properly. After the 6th month the precious antioxidants found in tea, such as catechins start to decrease. Besides losing its nutritional value, tea also tends to lose its taste and aroma overtime. Maintaining your tea’s freshness is really important so you should always store your tea leaves and tea bags in sealed tea tins (I love Teavana’s stylish tea tins) and keep in a dark, cool place. Make sure you consume your tea within 4-6 months after you buy it and check the date of picking.
#2 Green tea will slim you down
One of the main reasons for green tea’s huge popularity the past couple years has been its alleged ability to help you lose weight. It is true that green tea can greatly assist with losing weight since it speeds up your metabolism. It also inhibits lipolysis, the process by which dietary fats (triglycerides) are broken down in the body. Therefore your body doesn’t absorb fat and weight gain is prevented. Green tea won’t work miracles though unless it’s combined with a healthy diet and exercise. A lot of people believe that just by consuming tons of green tea they will reach the ideal weight but that simply can’t happen without maintaining a balanced lifestyle as well.
#3 Hot tea is healthier than iced tea
In the United States iced tea is one of the most popular beverages. There is this misbelief though that hot tea is much healthier that iced tea. At some level that can be true since the great majority of iced tea sold in the market and served in restaurants and cafes are instant teas or lower quality teas that often contain large amounts of sugar. But homemade iced tea, made with fine quality tea leaves and containing healthy sweeteners wouldn’t be less healthy than hot tea. You will get the exact same health benefits from drinking iced tea as you would get with hot tea, just consider that iced tea is usually diluted with ice so you might have to drink some extra to get the same amount of flavonoids. Also remember that the flavonoids in your tea get weak the more your tea sits. So the fresher your tea the more healthy it is!
#4 Organic tea is higher quality
It seems that the past years demand for organic tea has increased dramatically. More and more people seek organic tea while well known plantations are changing the way they cultivate their tea in order to keep up with what the market demands. But is it really worth paying a premium for organic tea? First of all we need to remember that organic certification is simply a label and just because something bears this label it doesn’t necessarily mean that they follow the right procedures. Also, even if a tea farm is organic that will not stop pesticides sprayed in other nearby non-organic farms reaching to it through the air or water so at the end of the day organic tea might not even be that great fro the environment. One thing certain about most organic tea however, is that often it lacks in taste or doesn’t taste any better than conventional tea. Finally, you should know that there is no significant scientific proof showing that it is dangerous to drink non-organic tea.
#5 Green tea is healthier than other teas
Black tea is the most consumed kind of tea in the western world but green tea is bearing the etiquette of being the healthiest type of tea. Green tea is less oxidized that black tea which makes it richer in health promoting antioxidants but there is little scientific evidence proving that green tea can cure everything as many believe today. Yes, green tea is a great beverage and should be consumed by everyone regularly but all other types of tea have lots to offer also. White tea is also an abundant source of antioxidants and more processed teas such as black, oolong and pu-erh have been used for centuries as remedies so you shouldn’t exclude them from your diet just because green tea is claimed to be healthier.
#6 Herbal tea is tea
All types of tea (black, green, white, oolong, pu-erh) come from the leaves and buds of the shrub Camellia sinensis with the processing method being the only factor that differentiates the different varieties. Everything else you buy at the market is not real tea even though it’s called so. Chamomile, mint, rooibos and all kinds of different herbal teas you use are made from seeds, flowers and other parts of plants and are called “tisanes’. Herbal tea may be prepared in the same way as regular tea but they taste differently. Also, herbal teas -even though healthy- do not offer the same health benefits as regular tea since they don’t contain the same antioxidants and are usually caffeine-free in contrast to regular tea.
#7 Tea bags are as good as loose tea
Teabags are far more popular that loose tea, especially among beginners with tea. They are less expensive and very convenient to use. But are they as good as loose leaves in terms of flavor? The answer unfortunately is no. Tea bags usually contain the fannings and dust of tea leaves and thus they won’t brew an excellent cup of tea as some good quality tea leaves would. Any tea expert would tell you that in order for your tea to taste great, the leaves need enough room to expand fully so that their flavor is properly extracted. Most tea bags don’t allow the leaves to open properly and thus the quality of flavor is decreased. There are some brands however that offer great teabags that contain quality tea leaves and are also roomy enough to let the leaves unfurl fully.
Remember that the world of tea is one of hidden complexities and in order to discover the amazing flavors and benefits it has to offer us we should keep our minds open, try different varieties and educate ourselves. Don’t always believe what you hear and keep questioning and playing around.