Having been to several events on coffee and tea, I thought I know a little thing or two about this ancient beverage more than the average Joe. It turns out that I still have got a lot to learn about tea after talking to tea expert, Rick Pua.
He is one of many tea connoisseurs who are willing to share openly about their knowledge on this widely-consumed beverage and the tea industry in general. To promote the health benefits of tea, Rick started a company called W teas that retails whole tea leaves and tea sets. Rick also conducts tea appreciation workshops and courses to educate the public about tea.
After getting acquainted with Rick during an event, I knew I had to do a proper interview with him to find out more about teas in general. He shared some interesting facts about tea which most companies in the tea industry would not have told you about. Through our conversations on tea, I got to understand more about tea in general.
An interview with Tea Expert, Rick Pua
We did a video interview with him and after which, he served us Jing Xuan tea, a type of Oolong tea which has a creamy and milky after taste. We talked and discussed some of the misconceptions about tea as we sipped some freshly-brewed Chinese tea prepared by Rick.
What are some of the questions we asked?
1. Fill in the blank. Tea is _________.
To Rick, tea is a herb as it encapsulates many health benefits which can help heal the body naturally.
2. Why are you so passionate about teas?
Rick started developing a love for tea after encountering a tea master in China who knew how to differentiate each tea just by sniffing it. It has inspired him to learn and understand more about teas.
3. What are some of the misconceptions about tea?
Most people like to drink tea and consume food at the same time. And most of us think that it is perfectly fine to drink tea as you eat and I personally thought that drinking tea while eating will help promote digestion and cleanse the palette at the same time. Who knew that this habit could be wrong?
Rick explains that drinking tea and eating food at the same time can actually hurt our stomach and affect our digestive system negatively in the long run. This is simply because tea is alkaline in nature. Thus, drinking tea while eating may affect the acidity of the digestive juices in our stomach, which in turns reduces the digestion process. It made perfect sense when he explains it that way. Though most of us learn about the acidity of the gastric juices in secondary school Science, it did not come across to us that drinking tea during a tea can adversely affect our digestion.
Rick advised us to drink tea either before or after a meal – preferably after 30 minutes to 1 hour after eating.
4. What is the difference between black, dark green and white tea?
Rick explained that there are six main different types of tea: black, green, yellow, white, Oolong and dark. I was surprised to know about this as I did not know that Oolong tea is a category of tea on its own.
And did you know that all six types of tea come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis? The differences between the various types of teas arise from growing conditions and levels of fermentation.
We probably have all heard about black, green, white and Oolong tea. But what about yellow tea and dark tea? Yellow tea is a rare type of tea that undergoes slight oxidation. As for dark tea, it is an aged probiotic tea which has a distinct mellow flavour. Like wine, the taste and aroma of the dark tea improve with age.
5. What are the health benefits of drinking tea?
Tea leaves, in general, contain anti-oxidants which help remove free radicals and slow down ageing. And each type of tea has its unique benefits and health-enhancing properties. Green tea, in particular, has an anti-radiation effect. White and yellow teas, on the other hand, can help improve skin complexion.
You might have also read about the slimming effects of teas. The best slimming tea, according to Rick, is Oolong tea. It can accelerate metabolism and promote fat burn in the body.
During our conversation, I also learnt that it is best to brew tea using whole tea leaves to enjoy the maximum health benefits of tea. Most tea bags sold in the supermarket contain tea dust which is essentially a lower grade of tea. And also, it is best not to drink tea with sugar as sugar alters the natural chemical composition found in teas.
6. How many types of teas do you have and which is the priciest?
Rick did not specifically share with us the number of teas he owns or collected but his personal tea brand, W teas, offers several kinds of premium whole tea leaves from the various tea categories. The priciest tea he has is raw Pu-erh tea which is retailing for $268 per tea cake (weighs 357 grams).
7. What is the most effective time of the day to drink tea?
It depends on the types of tea. You can drink black tea throughout the day. Rick mentioned that it is best to drink Oolong, green or white tea after lunch. In the evening, one can go for dark tea as it contains the least amount of caffeine.
8. How much tea can we drink in a day?
We often measure by the amount of tea we drink by its volume. But, in fact, we should be measuring the amount of tea we drink by its weight. Rick recommends that one should preferably drink no more than 6 grams of tea leaves per day.
If you would like to watch the full interview with tea expert, Rick Pua, click to watch the video below.
It was truly an enlightening experience to discover the hidden truths about tea after speaking to Rick. With that, I finally understood why it is pretty pointless to drink tea brewed using tea bags.