Tea-drinking is entrenched in Middle Eastern culture - when you walk through anyone's front door, a cup of chaii will be the first thing on offer. I grew up loving sweet, strong black tea, usually served in little glass cups too hot to handle until it cools down, along with dates, nuts, and sweets. In most offices in the Middle East, you'll find the trolley boy or girl - usually an intern whose job it is to make cups of tea for the people in the office and their guests. It's totally normal to have a friend drop by your office for the sole purpose of enjoying a cup of tea. Even after moving back to Southeast Asia, appreciating a good cuppa was still a big part of my daily life, and my step-mom makes a mean cup of Moroccan mint tea, using green tea, lots of sugar, and a handful of mint leaves.
With that being said, it's a no brainer that sourcing good loose leaf teas is an essential part of Albidaya Souq, and we brought in three different kinds of popular organic teas in the Middle East, and their health benefits.
There are a few different qualifications for tea to be classified as “white tea”. Basically, this is tea that has not been processed in any way after drying. The name “white tea” is also given to tea that is made from immature or young buds, which leads to a milder flavor of the brewed tea. Either way, white tea describes the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, and is one of the most popular varieties of tea in the world.
White tea contains nutrients and antimicrobial qualities that protect the body against occurrence of diseases. It contains tannins, fluoride and flavonoids such as catechins and polyphenols. These are responsible for the various health benefits that white tea provides, and is most popularly known to aid in natural weight loss, with studies suggesting that drinking white tea may prevent adipogenesis, which is the the process of formation of fat cells, and may control the life cycle of these fat cells called as adipocytes.
White tea boasts up to three times as many antioxidants as other tea varieties, such as green tea. As with many other types of tea, it contains organic compounds and anti-aging substances that can help to reduce oxidative stress and prevent certain chronic diseases. It can also help to protect the skin from ultraviolet light and even boost the strength of the immune system.
There is only 28 milligrams of caffeine in one 8oz. cup of white tea, which gives it a relatively low level in comparison to other caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or green tea. I personally enjoy drinking this on its own in the morning, and before going to bed at night, but feel free to steep it with fresh herbs or dried florals like rosebuds and hibiscus, to add another layer of flavor to this delicate tea.
Green tea is probably the most popular kind of tea on the planet, containing large amounts of bioactive compounds that help improve one's health naturally. One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.
Type II diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide. This disease involves having elevated blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
I enjoy my cups of green tea with a splodge of honey, or with a few heaping teaspoons of white sugar and a lot of fresh mint leaves.
The health benefits of black tea include beneficial impacts for high cholesterol, diarrhea, tooth decay, low-concentration levels, digestive problems, poor blood circulation, high blood pressure, and asthma. It is one of the most popular teas known to man, and is well known for its medicinal qualities and health benefits.
Recent medical research suggests that the compounds found in black tea, namely theaflavins and thearubigens, are positively loaded with health benefits, in addition to giving the tea its dark color and unique flavor.
I am a big fan of black tea, especially our floral Persian Black Loose Leaf, and usually take this with cardamom and anise seeds in my cup. Others like to enhance the floral notes with dried rosebuds, lavender, or tulsi leaves. While most black teas are fantastic with milk and sugar, I wouldn't recommend adding dairy to this blend of black tea, since it will counteract the beautiful floral notes.
Just a word of caution: If you have a sensitive stomach, black tea may not be for you since it is known to cause acidity issues in the stomach.