January is National Hot Tea Month, a time to celebrate the enjoyment and health benefits of tea.
Tea is made from the young leaves and leaf buds of the plant Camellia sinensis, native to Asia. Tea was drunk in China for hundreds, possibly thousands of years before European countries discovered their liking for it as well. Credo Reference provides a good overview of tea's history in this Cambridge World History of Food article, Tea.
After picking, tea leaves are dried. For black tea, the leaves are then oxidized (in a process for some reason known as "fermentation"), producing a stronger flavor. Oolong tea is oxidized for less time, and green tea not at all. A great book for becoming more knowledgeable about the technicalities of tea is How to Make Tea: the Science Behind the Leaf, available through Hoopla.
In the last few decades, much scientific research has helped bring to light tea's many health benefits. One good place to research tea and health is the Library's Consumer Health Complete database. The article Tea Time: Drink to Good Health informs us that tea is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, good for cardiovascular health and potentially anticarcinogenic. Time for Tea lists even more potential health benefits, including weight loss and oral health.
The Library has a number of books about tea, in both electronic and hard copies. So this January, renew your love affair with tea (hot or cold!), brew up a cup, and enjoy a good read.