Tea Myths & Facts – LA Times Style

We have written about the myths and legends of tea at this fine site on a number of occasions, including articles located here and here. There are no shortage of said myths, and I’m sure we all have our favorites. One of mine is the one about how tea was discovered when some tea leaves blew into a kettle of water a Chinese emperor was boiling. Then there’s the one about how tea can be decaffeinated by rinsing the leaves for 30 seconds and throwing away the water before steeping.

That august publication known as the Los Angeles Times presented their take on a few tea myths (and facts) not so long ago. They debunked the myth that adding milk to tea detracts from its health benefits, as well as one that I’ve never heard before – that hot tea is healthier than iced tea. The catch when it comes to iced tea is that the often sugary bottled stuff may actually be less healthful than the homemade kind made from good quality tea.

One myth I’ve done my part to debunk over the years is that all tea is created equal and that the expensive stuff is not really worth the cost. Not so. Spend wisely but don’t be afraid to spend a lot to get truly great tea. On the flip side, some of the notions that the article claims to be facts are that pregnant women should use caution about how much tea they drink, that some teas can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, that tea can help ease the symptoms of a cold, and more. Read all about it here.

Going back a few years ago, another major city paper – the Chicago Tribune – tackled similar territory in an article titled 9 Things You Should Unlearn About Tea. Among the myths they debunked, that herbal tea is tea, that black tea contains more caffeine than green tea, that you can rinse tea to decaffeinate it (thank you), and that you can lose weight by drinking green tea.

On the milk/health benefits issue, the article didn’t come down firmly on either side and they didn’t take a real firm stance on whether or not restaurants know how to serve tea. On the flip side, they do suggest that tea can help to fight cancer. More details in the article, here.

But no matter how many articles are rolled out in service of demolishing the many myths about tea it’s likely that many of them will persist, especially in the Internet age, when it seems that absolute truths are tricky to come by. Thus a good rule of thumb would be to take much of what you read about tea with a grain of salt – and be sure to keep the salt out of the tea.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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