Like many other foods, all natural tea has health benefits and entertainment value. Teas made from various plants are popular all over the world. People drink the water-based infusions for refreshment, for stimulation, for relaxation, and for social reasons. The medicinal value of tea has been the subject of folk and scientific lore for centuries. Today the cultivation and retailing of many types of teas is a billion dollar, world-wide industry.
‘All-natural’ is used to designate foods that do not contain any ‘artificial’ ingredients. Many teas are made from one kind of leaf (or root, in the case of herbs) and contain nothing else anyway. Others, such as bottled cold teas, may contain artificial sweeteners, additional flavors such as lemon, or even colorings and preserving agents.
Methods of cultivation are not addressed by this designation. All-natural products can be grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which can harm the environment and taint the food stuff with toxins. Different areas of the world will have lax or strict regulations on methods of production at all stages.
A particular species of plant produces leaves used in green and black teas. Black is simple a designation for the leaves after fermentation, which deepens the color and flavor of the brew and increases the amount of caffeine. All plants can be steeped in hot water to yield a liquid that can be used as a drink, a medicine, a soak, or a poultice. For instance, parsley leaves make a diuretic drink, while mint leaves have been traditionally used for refreshment and a digestive aid. Tansy tea should not be drunk but can be used as a spray to deter ants.
Teas are used to banish sleepiness in the morning. Black tea is the most usual wake-me-up. An afternoon cuppa of the same beverage can help workers stay alert. Green tea (the same plant matter in a non-fermented state) has been the subject of much research for its health benefits. Black and green tea are high in antioxidants, powerful substances which are believed to fight the effects of age, environmental pollution, and toxins in air, water, and food.
Drinking teas, either traditional or herbal, count as part of the recommended daily fluid intake. Chronic dehydration is a major problem for many, and drinking a beverage that has nutritional value is a plus. In addition, teas have special properties. Black tea is a great wake-me-up, chamomile helps people relax and experience restful sleep, fenugreek is good for increasing milk production for breastfeeding mothers, and eucalyptus can be used to soothe coughs, purify laundry, and cure skin diseases.
There are political connotations to world trade, as well. Practices such as factory farming and child labor concern many consumers. They look for ‘fair trade’ designations, as well as organic certification and chemical-free packaging. Helping to support small farmers, keep the environment clean, and get a toxin-free product are all things that people can do with the power of their pocketbook.
It is a good idea to know the source of even all natural tea. Many companies are proud of their methods of cultivation and production, and stand by the quality of their products. Ask questions to be sure of getting high quality traditional or herbal teas.
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