Suppose you visited someone and found them enjoying tea leaves. What would you think of that? Would you be willing to join them, or would you prefer to drink the tea as you usually do? Well, while this might seem like a far off idea, it does happen in real life.
Some people do enjoy eating tea leaves as they are. And they do not do this out of a dare, but rather, out of finding delight in the tea. You may have even thought of taking tea leaves at some point. Would you dare? Well, this article will get into all of this, allowing you to decide what can work for you.
Can you eat tea leaves?
Well, this is not a question that has one answer. It is like when someone asks if you should enjoy milk in your tea. You have to break this down further to what kind of tea, when, and why. The same goes for tea leaves.
The general answer to this is yes, enjoying tea leaves is okay. However, you have to break it down to what kind of tea leaves, why you are doing it, and the risks involved. So, before you reach for that packet of tea leaves calling to you, continue reading for more details.
The last thing you want is to munch on some leaves only to find that they are not good for you. Note that eating leaves is not okay in all circumstances, and you should thus know when the exceptions apply.
What tea leaves should you eat?
You always have to understand which tea leaves are suitable for consumption as they are. Some people will eat the leaves out of the tea bag while others will take those that remain after steeping tea. What is right, and what should you avoid? That is what we will get into. Note that regardless of your choice, you should be ready for quite a bitter taste.
Tea leaves are not at all palatable, and they can leave you feeling off. Plus, their consistency is hard to wash down, such that you have to drink lots of fluids afterward. You might even need to use a pick or something else to remove them from your teeth.
As you work on dealing with the horrible aftertaste, avoid smiling at people (more so your crush). They will not like what they see, and neither will you like how it feels. You may even start wondering if the consumption was worth it from the start.
Is it normal to eat tea leaves? The answer is yes and no, depending on who you ask. You see, if you go to Myanmar, people there eat tea leaves. They have a special tea known as Lahpet. Thus, they would not find their activities out of the norm.
Another example of where this is normal is the Japanese Tea Ceremony, where people ingest green tea. They do so in powdered version, which is essentially tea leaves, only that it blends in the water. They use warm water to which they add the powder and drink the liquid.
There is not much difference between this and what you consume as green tea if you think about it. So if you have had this powdered version, you are well on your way to embracing the eating of tea leaves.
The case might be different if you ask your neighbor, who may even think you could be losing it. Do not wonder why they are keeping a close eye on you on the weeks that follow.
Ways to eat tea leaves
Let us look at some of the ways you can eat tea leaves:
Should you eat the tea leaves along with the tea bag? Well, that depends on why you are doing it. If you are on a dare and can handle the consequences, then why not? Note that while tea bags appear to be paper, they are not all paper.
A significant percentage of them comprises chemicals and plastic. That means you would likely suffer some digestive issues and have a hard time passing the tea bag. There is no need to go that far when trying tea leaves, and you should enjoy them outside the bag.
Okay, now back to the tea leaves. You should note that they are not all the same. What you find in a regular tea bag is dust tea leaves. These are small particles, and some people even suggest that they result from sweepings of the factory floor. What do you think about that? Might you actually be brewing what the factory considers waste?
Well, these particles come about from the high oxidization of tea leaves. They undergo a lot of processing as they have more exposed surface area. That leads to more tannins, which you can enjoy in the distinct flavor of the tea.
Plus, they are also rich in other compounds, such as polyphenols. Now, while all this is true, there is one significant point to note. You cannot enjoy most of the goodness of these leaves without using hot water. Most of the compounds get released upon this immersion. Eating them raw would thus leave you out of these benefits. Is it necessary to do so?
As to how you should drink the tea leaves, it comes down to pouring the bag contents into a cup. If you look at how people enjoyed tea in the past, you will see that most of them did so this way. And from this came the practice of reading tea leaves. Well, before all that people would make tea and do without straining it.
Thus, they would end up ingesting tea leaves, which they did not mind, much unlike the situation nowadays. It is quite hard to come across someone who takes their tea like this anymore – what with caffeine and high acidity avoidance strategies.
When you add your tea leaves to a cup, you forgo the benefits of the tea bag. It might not look like the bag serves much of a purpose, but it does. It acts as a barrier, keeping the tea leaves from moving around as much. Without it, most of the particles will settle at the bottom.
But some will end up in the upper layers of the tea such that you ingest them. That is the point anyway, is it not? The bits will likely distract you from the tea’s taste but will allow you to accomplish your goal. Plus, you can make a career out of reading the leaves if you do this often enough.
You can also add the leaves to the teapot such that you drink the tea with the particles in it. That should not be so different from adding them to a cup.
Eating loose leaf tea
People who drink loose leaf tea and those who swear by tea bags hardly see eye to eye. To which category do you belong? Loose leaf tea has much bigger particles, and this is not without its effects on the texture and taste of the tea. If you want to eat such leaves, you should be ready for quite a bitter taste.
Say, for example, you eat the leaves when wet; they can taste very bitter and can be hard to chew. You are also likely to have a lot of matter in your teeth, making it quite uncomfortable.
Well, you do not have to eat the leaves as they are, whether loose or as tea bags. There are many ways you can use the leaves. These include making salads, pastries, and other such things. Thus, when you think of eating the leaves, it does not have to mean the leaves as such.
Should You Eat Tea Leaves?
Before we look at some other ways you can enjoy tea leaves, let us look at why this is such a good idea. It may seem foreign to many people, including you. So why would you go ahead and stick tea leaves in your mouth? Is the bitter taste worth it? Well, here are some possible benefits?
For one, you probably know of this benefit – tea is rich in antioxidants. And these work great in fighting free radicals and warding off some diseases. You can thus prevent cell damage by eating some tea leaves here and there. That should be worth that bitter taste.
Also, tea’s antioxidants work towards bettering your heart health such that it functions better. As a result, your blood vessels can function better, and your bad cholesterol can reduce. How great does that sound?
It gets even better. Eating tea leaves can help you reduce weight loss as well as have more energy. It comes down to the presence of caffeine in tea. Caffeine, a known and legal stimulant, blocks adenosine and thus increases the dominance of stimulating hormones.
You end up feeling more energetic and focused as a result. It also brings up your metabolism rate. For someone who is working out, you can see your results much faster if you include tea leaves in your diet. Goodbye extra inches!
You can also rely on the compounds in tea to bring down sugar levels. Now, that is a benefit that is worth munching down on those pesky particles. And the icing on the cake has to be the positive effect on your gastrointestinal health.
Did you know that tea leaves are a source of fiber? You need this for your gut to remove waste from the body. So if constipation has been giving you a hard time, tea leaves could alleviate the symptoms.
Risks to Eating Tea Leaves
Eating tea leaves might look trendy and fun. However, it also carries some risks which you should have in mind. Take loose leaf tea as an example. These teas are likely to have tons of pesticides.
When you steep the tea, the pesticides remain in the leaves as they are not soluble. But when you ingest the leaves whole, you end up eating the pesticides. As such, before taking any leaves, you should look at their source and if they are organic. If not, you can end up endangering your health.
Also, there is a risk of ingesting bacteria. Once you steep tea leaves and leave them in the open, they become ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. You should thus ingest them as soon as you can, or leave them be. Alternatively, you can store them in the fridge or other ideal places.
Before eating tea leaves, you should always check with your doctor as to likely interactions with your meds. Also, assess your health condition. It would not be advisable to eat tea leaves when pregnant or lactating.
Tea leaf recipe ideas
If you do not mind the taste of the leaves, you can eat them whole. If not, you can try other ways of consuming them by looking up recipes online. Some people use their tea in cookies and shortbread, which come out great.
You can even use the leaves in making nut, veggie, and fish dishes. Add some vinegar, and that should be a meal to remember. How about adding the leaves to your favorite snacks? A great idea, in this case, would be ice cream.
You can sprinkle the tea leaves on the ice cream and enjoy it. This way, you would hardly register the tea’s bitter taste, more so if you work with a powdered version. What other idea comes to mind?