Tea seems like a cinch (throw a bag in hot water and – voila – comfort in a cup), but unlocking its max amount of disease-fighting antioxidants isn’t so simple.
Technically, all true teas do come from leaves—those of the camellia sinensis plant. (Some common brews masquerading as tea: chamomile, rooibos, and sassafras). The different varieties are distinguished by how, and how much, those leaves are processed. In general, the more oxidised (exposed to air) the leaves are, the hotter the water used to steep them should be.
For the fullest flavour, loose-leaf teas > prepackaged bags (and are better for multiple cups if you’re the re-steeping type). Steeping at the correct temperature and time can make a difference, too; too long a steep can make your cup bitter by releasing too many of the tea’s tannins.
You’ve got to steep it like you mean it!
Water temp: Boiling
Time: Five minutes
This one’s quick and easy once your teapot starts whistling. Boiling water releases black tea’s antioxidants best, but the longer the leaves soak, the less of the good stuff is left.
Water temp: Room
Time: Two hours
Great excuse to make iced green tea! If you like it hot, steeping a bag in boiling water for five minutes will release 90 percent of its antioxidants. Or add a little milk and whip up a green tea matcha latte. But before you down 5 cups, beware… it’s high in caffeine so if you up your dosage you could end up feeling ‘green’.
Water temp: Boiling or room temperature
Time: Two hours
Longer steeping, rather than temperature, leads to more beneficial compounds in white tea. If you want it right now, steep for 10 minutes.
Want to sip your way to a thiner waistline? Try one of these 5 bedtime beverages which are said to help shed kilos.