Did you know that coffee and tea both have many amazing nutritional
contents, as well as a beneficial effect?

The economics of tea

China is the largest producer of tea in the world, which should be no surprise to anyone. The second place in this category is held by India, and third – which be shocking to some – Kenya, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of CTC type tea (most often sold in tea bags).

And what about tea consumption? This is where all the surprises are. Even though tea is associated with China, India and Japan, the most tea is drank in... Paraguay. There are an average of 11 kg of tea leaves consumed per person in that country. The other places on the tea enthusiasts’ podium are held by Uruguay (9,3 kg) and Argentina (4,8 kg). In Poland we do not enjoy tea as much. Statistically, an average of 1 kg of tea leaves is consumed annually per person. Maybe it is high time for some changes?

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Fruit teas

They are not only tasty, but also healthy. Some of them can even fill the role of dietary supplements.

These types of tea are made using dried fruit, often supplemented with other plant fragments (i.e. leaves or flower petals). As long as they do not contain tea leaves, they do not have a stimulating effect, so they can be given to children, and drank in the evening. Many of them have health benefiting properties, which one would be smart to take advantage of regularly. Cranberry tea has a high antioxidant content and helps in curing urinary tract infections, chokeberry tea has an anti-inflammatory effect and reduces blood pressure, and a frequent addition to fruit teas, hibiscus, has a high vitamin C content. The list of beneficial qualities does not end there. Fruit teas retain the properties of the fruits they are made of. Drinking them, we drink health itself.

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Rooibos tea

Rooibos is made from red bush leaves – a plant completely different from regular tea plant. It does, however, have many interesting properties.

Rooibos is an excellent source of antioxidants. It strengthens the immune system, reduces blood pressure, has a beneficial effect on the alimentary canal, contains plenty of iron and prevents the development of certain tumors. Most of all, it entices with its excellent flavor – mild and delicate, with a faint taste of honey. It is naturally sweet, so even people with a sweet tooth will be able to limit the use of sugar or forfeit it completely. Rooibos does not contain caffeine, can be drank without limitations, even right before sleep, and given t small children without any reservations.

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Tea stories

According to legend, the first tea plants were grown in China, and we have an Indian prince who abandoned his riches and titles to set out into the world as a Buddhist monk to thank for that. He wandered far, devoting all his time to meditation, but he was finally overcome with sleepiness. In order not to fall asleep, Bodhidharma cut out his own eyelids.

The first tea plant grew where his eyelids had fallen, and its leaves to this day help keep sleep at bay. The subsequent fate of tea are much less bloody. The idea to brew tea supposedly came from the Chinese emperor Shennong, who was known for his wisdom. He was also a great proponent of herbalism and ... boiled water. In order to reduce the number of people falling ill, he encouraged all citizens to boil their water before drinking. A tea leaf from a nearby bush once fell into one of the pots with water that was cooling off after boiling. Prone to experiments, the emperor tried the brew, thereby discovering its stimulating and tasty properties.

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Tea – to good health

We drink tea nearly every day. All the better, as it is beneficial to our health!

Especially promising in this respect is green tea. According to researchers, it is supposed to reduce the occurrence risk of many different types of cancer, slow down the aging process, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, and even help you lose weight. Properly brewed it has a stimulating effect, but will get you on your feet much more delicately, than coffee. Black tea has similar health benefiting properties as green teas – it is made from the same leaves – but its effects are slightly weaker. Maybe it is a good reason, to Drink more of it.

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All colors of tea

In Poland black tea is the most well known kind, with green tea being more and more popular. Red tea still raises some doubts... To make matters complicated, the Chinese classify tea completely differently than us and distinguish as much as six kinds.

According to the Chinese, tea has six colors: green, white, black, red, yellow and turquoise. Green and white teas are also known in Poland. A piece of trivia: the tea which we know as black is called red in China due to the color of the brew. What about the remaining colors? Chinese black teas are usually maturing teas, such as pu’er. Turquoise teas are semi-fermented and include wulong (oolong) teas, also known in Poland as “dragon tea”. Yellow teas are the least known. These rare and expensive teas are only produced in China and Taiwan and very rarely exported to other countries.

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Instant coffee – not always inferior

You put a spoonful of brown pellets in a cup, pour in hot water and get coffee – no dregs, no effort and unnecessary trouble. Does convenience of preparation mean worse quality? Even though many connoisseurs frowns upon instant coffee, one cannot deny how convenient they are. How are they made?

The Coffee extract is brewed in specific conditions and then... dried. The first experiments involved attempts to cook water out of the coffee, until there was only residue left in the cauldron. Currently the production process is much smarter and there are two methods to choose. Drying through spraying involves spraying the coffee extract in a very high temperature chamber (up to 270°C). Water from the tiny drops of extract evaporates very quickly, and the only thing left are instant coffee pellets. Freeze drying (lyophilization) involves extracting water through sublimation. The coffee extract is frozen in the form of small crystals, and then the pressure in the chamber is significantly reduced, while the temperature is increased. As a result of the process, water evaporates from the coffee crystals. The same method is also used for the processing of food for astronauts. Instant coffee is milder and more delicate in its flavor than regular brewed coffee, but if it is of good quality, it does not lose its intense aroma, which is so adored by coffee enthusiasts.

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Arabica vs. Robusta

Arabica (Coffea Arabica) and Robusta (Coffea canephora) are the two most popular coffee types. It is widely regarded that the Arabica is the most gentle, tasty, and simply better. But is it really? The former, as well as the latter have their enthusiasts and opponents.

Arabica constitutes the largest, approximately 70% share in worldwide coffee production, and its cultivation is much more expensive. The benefit of such an investment is a more delicate and nuanced flavor, which will definitely be appreciated by every coffee enthusiast. Robusta is much less refined, but stronger – it contains significantly greater amounts of caffeine, essential to all coffee lovers, not only in the morning. The Robusta bean brew contains from 1,8 to 4% of caffeine, while Arabica contains only up to 1,5%, depending on where it is cultivated. Which one should you choose then? How about both? A classic espresso blend consists of 40% Brazilian Arabica, 40% Robusta and 20% of high quality Arabica beans which supplement the coffee with more subtle flavors and aromas. It is also worth remembering, that the type is only a partial answer to the question about good coffee. There are also factors such as conditions of cultivation, method of processing and roasting, and others which affect the coffee’s flavor.

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Coffee – to good health

Coffee wakes you up – everyone knows that! However, this is not the limit of its capabilities. What else can it do? For many people the most important and well known ingredient of coffee is caffeine. It stimulates us in the morning and helps us get through busy nights. Consumption of caffeine in moderation also has many benefits not related to lack of sleep or tiredness. Caffeine improves mental performance and awareness, in addition to temporarily improving memory. But it affects not only the mind.

It can improve physical performance and speed up regeneration of overburdened muscles, as well as influence increased burning of fat during physical activity. When it comes to health related aspects, without a doubt its most important effect is a reduced risk of heart and liver diseases. That is just caffeine – but what else can coffee do? Some studies indicate, that it reduces the risk of prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis and gout. A high antioxidant content helps fight free radicals and is the reason why coffee extract is often used in rejuvenating cosmetics. What is also interesting – coffee improves the mood! According to scientists, coffee acts much like an antidepressant, thus not only taking care of the conscious mind, but also our mental health. Let us drink then – to good health!

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Did you know that...

The name “coffee”, much like champagne or cognac, most likely comes from its place of origin, which is the Ethiopian province of Kaffa – the birthplace of the coffee plant. In Ethiopia, and especially the Ethiopian Highlands, coffee was most likely widespread in the year 1000 AD. The second version of the origin of the word “coffee” speaks of its roots in the Turkish word for wine, which is “qavah” or “kahve”.

Due to alcohol consumption always being strictly forbidden for Muslims, they would happily partake in the consumption of coffee, the effects of which they considered similarly stimulating to wine. After some time the word for wine was transferred to this popular, aromatic beverage.

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Coffee in numbers

The annual worldwide production of coffee equals 5,5 million tons, which is over 50% more than the total production of tea and cocoa. The largest coffee exporters include 7 countries: Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia, Mexico, Uganda, Ethiopia and Guatemala. The largest consumers are Scandinavian countries: Finland, where annually an average of 15,2 kg of this fine beverage is consumed per one citizen, and Sweden with an average of 15,1 kg. For the sake of comparison, in other European countries like France, Germany and Austria, coffee consumption is much lower, only 5,75 kg; Italy – 4,9 kg; USA – 4,5 kg; Poland – 3,7 kg; Great Britain – 2,5 kg; Portugal – 1,37 kg.

As we see, the most coffee is drank in countries, where it is treated as a basic drink “for everything”, i.e. where there is no special ritual associated with consuming it. 150 000 Italian coffee shops and bars serves an average of 230 cups of all coffee types daily (including cappuccino), and in central Italy this number reaches 300. This constitutes only 30% of consumption. The other 70% is drank by the Italians at home or at work. One and a half billion cups – that is how much coffee is drank daily around the world.

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