We couldn’t think of a more appropriate time in recent history to celebrate National Tea Day (NTD), which is annually on the 21st April. With the unprecedented times that we are facing globally, the emotional importance of it feels very poignant right now as a cup of tea allows us to take that much-needed break in the day and go "ah".
Globally, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water and recently has found its popularity again due to the rising awareness of its health benefits. I’m sure you’ve all spotted Matcha Green Tea Lattes as of late on your favourite brunch spots drinks menu?
Recognised as a high-quality and luxurious item, loose leaf tea is a natural product that requires brewing (cold or warm.) Backtrack quite a few years though and we strived for convenience items, which is why the tea bag dominated kitchen cupboards with brands such as Yorkshire Tea, PG Tips & Typhoo.
However, times have changed and quite dramatically too. Now, it is trendy to store an abundance of speciality loose-leaf teas primarily due to the health messages associated with varying types. Examples of well-known brands include Fortnum & Masons and Whittaker’s.
Today though, we want to break down the commonly known health benefits associated with different teas which now are now available from your specialist health shop or even your local supermarket.
Before we quickly get into this, we just want to clarify that all tea comes from one plant. Do you know what it is? Camellia Sinensis! It’s what occurs to the leaves once arriving at the tea plantation that defines the type.
Black Tea is the most widely consumed tea in the U.K. (builders cup of = the addition of milk!). However, it has seen a decline in consumption in recent years due to the variety available on the market and increased knowledge of their benefits. Unfortunately, Black Tea lacks a lot of health benefits associated with Green or Oolong, however it does have a high caffeine content that gives you that kick, which is often associated with coffee. Another variant is that Black Tea is fully oxidised which is how it gets it colour as it turns the leaves from green to dark brown.
White Tea is one of the most sought-after types of tea. Coming from the same plant as Black, Green & Oolong teas it is only harvested once a year, normally in the Springtime. Only leaf buds and the smallest shoots can be plucked. As a result, it is the least processed tea resulting in a pale and delicate flavor. Many of its qualities include improving general health but most notable it’s anti-aging properties for the skin.
So, who’s actually heard of Oolong tea? Oolong tea is commonly overlooked, especially in the U.K. Yet as tea has become more of a rising trend, it is steadily but surely making more of a name for itself. What makes Oolong different is that it is partially oxidised unlike Black tea which is fully oxidised. So, you could describe it as somewhere in the middle of Black and Green tea as you can enjoy it different levels of oxidisation too. As a result there is an abundance of health related benefits such as boosting your metabolism, helps with healthy skin and hair and also increasing mental awareness.
Perhaps one of the most famous out of this bunch, Green Tea is celebrated worldwide for its health benefits including, you guessed it lots of antioxidants, restoring damaged brain cells and many believe it to be an effective weight loss aid due to the effects it has on the metabolism (we’re sure that you have seen the weight loss tea adverts on Instagram!). What many don’t realise though is that Green Tea is from the exact same plant as Black, Oolong & White, but that it is just steamed or fired straight after picking in order to stop it from oxidising. This is what gives its fresh, vegetal taste and vibrant colours.
Matcha differs slightly in that the young leaves of the first harvest are shaded for up to a month before being picked. It is then ground into a fine green tea powder made from the whole leaves. Matcha was traditionally served during a Japanese Tea Ceremony. However, its associated health benefits have seen its claim to fame grow in recent years which include detoxification, sustained energy, an abundance of antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging free radicals in the body. This is because when you drink Matcha you are ingesting the whole leaf meaning that you are taking in extra levels of caffeine, L-theanine and polyphenols.
It goes without saying that Britain (and the rest of the world) loves its tea and we also love our spirits. Alongside the flourishing tea trend, the craft and artisan alcohol market recently saw a boom with Gin distilleries doubling in the past 7 years. Yet, nowhere were the two popular beverages fused together. We saw a clear opportunity to combine these two passions, embarking on a journey of discovery to find the world’s most perfect pairings imaginable.
Blending the highest quality loose leaf teas (cold-brewed to extract a fuller, more rounded flavour) with a range of expertly crafter spirits, our ‘Tales’ build on the history of culinary innovation to deliver a lower ABV option to the spirit market, our ‘Tea with Spirit.’
Our beautiful NOVELTEA pictures were taken by our good friend Charles Hogge