Tea Total

Felice Liao is the co-owner of TaiPei Dao Teahouse and Restaurant in Dubai. Here, she chats to us about how the benefits of a good brew are more than psychological

Does all tea really come from one plant?
Basically, yes. Green, black, white and oolong teas are derived from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant.

What makes them different then?
There are a number of varietals and cultivars of the plant; the environment and terroir where the tea is grown is influential and processing methods, fermentation and roasting all play a role, too. For example, green tea is prepared from unfermented leaves, oolong tea leaves are partially fermented, black tea is fully fermented and white tea comes from the flower of the plant. 

What are some of the health benefits that different teas offer?
Teas are packed with antioxidants such as catechins [disease-fighting flavonoids that can prevent cell damage among their benefits] and are, in my view, a much better choice than coffee Both Taiwanese oolong tea and green tea can improve our immune systems, help prevent cancers, slow the ageing process, prevent loss of bone calcium, alleviate blood lipoids, cholesterol, blood pressure and arteriosclerosis as well as reduce urine hyperacidity and gout.

Is there anything one should be wary of when drinking tea?
You shouldn’t have oolong, green tea or white tea on an empty tummy. The tannins in these teas can increase the acid in your stomach and damage its membrane. So it’s best to drink them after or in-between meals. Also, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, avoid drinking tea nine hours before sleeping.

What’s your idea of the perfect tea set?
I like to use clay pots and cups as these hold the heat well. However, you shouldn’t mix teas as clay has minute holes, like the pores in our skin, and this makes the pot absorb the flavour of the tea which is brewed within it. That’s why many people prefer porcelain or ceramic tea sets – as these materials are coated.

Is there one ideal temperature at which tea should be brewed?
It really depends on each tea. Green teas require cooler waters, oolongs can take slightly higher temperatures and black teas should be brewed at 100°C. Always remember that it’s best not to let fresh tea leaves soak in water for more than 50 seconds.