Tea and steeping are two concepts that are often confused. These are two common types of beverages, but they differ in the plants used. Now that it’s teatime, learn the difference between the two.
Tea is prepared by infusion of the leaves of the tea plant – Camellia sinensis, while the infusion is a drink prepared by adding boiling water to the leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits or stems of the plants.
Tea was discovered about 5,000 years ago and is the most consumed beverage in the world after water. All teas – black, green, oolong and white come from the same warm-weather plant Camellia sinensis.
The different types of tea are determined by the processing of the plant’s leaves and their level of contact with oxygen. During oxidation, tea leaves undergo natural chemical reactions that produce distinct characteristics of color and flavor.
See also: Mint, green, chamomile … which tea is best for you?
Thus, white tea is made from leaf buds or buds, which are quickly dried or steamed to prevent oxidation. In turn, green tea is slightly oxidized – the leaves are steamed, twisted and dried. On the other hand, black tea is oxidized for two to four hours and undergoes a longer fermentation process. Oolong tea is among the green and black teas, in which the leaves are only partially oxidized.
In fact, tea is grown in thousands of tea gardens and plantations around the world, giving rise to thousands of unique variations. The tea is divided into notes, according to the size of the leaf. Smaller leaves are used in tea bags, while larger leaves can be found in bulk.
From a nutritional point of view, tea contains no sodium, fat, carbonate or sugar and is virtually calorie free. In addition to containing caffeine in low doses, along with a cup of black tea, it is the highest type of tea, containing around 40 milligrams of caffeine.
Tea also contains natural flavonoids with antioxidant properties, which provide bioactive compounds that help neutralize free radicals, which damage genetic material and contribute to chronic disease.
In addition, it also appears to have beneficial effects on the prevention of cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and on bone health, immunity and weight control.
Herbal infusions do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant, but rather from an infusion of leaves, roots, bark, seeds or flowers from other plants. Examples of infusions used include mint, lime, chamomile, lemon balm, lemon spear, rosemary, sage, thyme, olive leaf, jasmine, sage, ginger, lemon peel and orange.
Each of them has different characteristics. For example, peppermint has anti-flatulent, antispasmodic and antiseptic properties that have made its medicinal use popular for centuries.
The injections do not contain caffeine, which can be an advantage for people sensitive to this compound. However, the antioxidant properties of herbal infusions are much lower compared to tea, although they contain a similar level of total polyphenols.
See also: Hibiscu Tea: A Powerful Nutritional Aid
Tea and injections can interact with some medications and reduce the absorption of some nutrients, such as iron, so when in doubt, it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking them. In addition, they should not exceed 2 cups per day and should be consumed outside of main meals.
A practical and different way to drink tea is to make iced tea, that is, cold tea. Not to be confused with soft drinks sold in the supermarket, as they contain a lot of sugar. You can also choose a “cold infusion”, for example using mint, lemon juice, lemon grass or sage. Note that when preparing tea or steeping, sugar must not be added. Alternatively, cinnamon sticks, lemon drops or fruit can be added.
Thus, tea and infusion differ in their origin and have greater antioxidant properties. Both can be an excellent way to maintain a proper water balance.
Written by Katharina Sofia Correa
Nutritionist at the Tigo Bobadilla Health Clinic