Drink Your Tea The Right Way!

Last update: 11/11/2014

By Sakini Mohd Said

CAMERON HIGHLANDS (Bernama) -- The menu is simple, plain tea served with scone, a single-serving cake or quick bread often topped with strawberry jam or other sweet toppings.

The strong aroma of the freshly brewed tea using high quality leaves right from Cameron Highlands promises a difference in taste and its own uniqueness for tea aficionados.

Tea served hot or cold are the choice for tea aficionados at tea time or anytime of the day. Records show people have been drinking tea as far as 5,000 years back in China, and it is probably the oldest known drink of humankind.

In some communities tea is part of the culture, including the tea serving tradition seen in Chinese weddings.

And tea drinking too has evolved with time with the tea now being available with added flavours - strawberry, apple or just add the sliced lemon to enjoy a tangy tea.

A recent media visit to the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi) in the highlands revealed some interesting facts on tea preparation that most tea drinkers may have taken for granted.


"The tea here is of high quality, it is of natural taste and rich in nutritional value. It is a known fact that there are numerous types of tea available today, including the green tea or the oolong (a traditional tea from China) that is rich in nutritional value.

"However, almost all the nutritional value is lost if the tea is not prepared the right way," said Mardi's senior research assistant Mohd Noor Bahauddin.

Tea in fact is a nutritional drink and is beneficial for health. Studies show the polyphenols found in tea could help reduce the bacteria in mouth and subsequently bad breath.

Studies also indicated that tea is good for the heart, improves the memory power and blood circulation, reduces stress and prevents cancer.

"However, all these beneficial attributes of tea could only be derived by drinking tea in the right manner and in the right quantity," he explained.


"Many are unaware that all this while they may have been preparing tea the wrong way, literally drinking tea without any nutrition and even exposing themselves to health risk," he said.

As for example the famous 'teh tarik', a concoction of the original tea, sugar and condensed milk, contains excessive calories and sweetness that poses diabetes risk.

"As people like to indulge in drinks and food that please their palate, drinking too much of teh tarik may expose them to health issues," he said.

So preparing and drinking tea the right way is important.


So which is the best way to prepare tea?

By infusing the tea leaves directly in hot water and straining the tea guarantees the nutrient and taste. However, it may seem a cumbersome process thus many opt for the tea bags that is convenient and saves time.

Now there is an easy option, the tea bags. Just immerse them in hot water and your tea is ready.

"We are worried the tea bags itself are made from poor quality paper and may contains wax that could affect the nutritional value of tea if they are infused for too long," he said.

And there were those who like to infuse the tea bags for too long and only discard them after finishing the drink. It is best that the tea bags were infused for not more than five minutes, said Mohd Noor who added that this was good enough to obtain the required colour and aroma.

And exercise moderation, like any other food indulging in excessive amount of tea may cause problems.

"As for those with a weak digestive system, they may suffer from constipation. This is because tea, like the other herbs, if taken in excessive quantities will definitely have side effects," he explained.


And many want their tea thick, so they infuse the tea bag for much longer. However, Mohd Noor pointed out the proper way to achieve this is by using two or three tea bags instead of infusing one.

"When it is dilute, its nutritional content too is less. However, what is important is that it should not be too reddish or astringent," said this tea expert with more than 20 years experience on the subject.

Apart from that one should avoid recycling the tea bags until nothing comes out when the bags are infused.

This practice should be avoided as bacteria could accumulate in the tea bags especially if they are left exposed for some time. Also tea that has been left overnight or for a long time should be discarded as they may be contaminated by bacteria.

Moreover, the tea contains some chemical properties that react and turn into acid, thus the astringent flavour.

"Many say tea is gassy. This is not true at all. However, bloated stomach could occur after drinking tea that has been left over and again those with weaker digestive system are susceptible to this problem. In fact, to avoid bloated stomach one is encouraged to drink hot tea," he said.