Ask a tea aficionado how tea should be prepared and you can bet a microwave will not be involved. But ask a food scientist from University of Newcastle in Australia and they'll make a compelling case for using a microwave. Research shows preparing tea in a microwave might actually make it healthier for you.
Led by food scientist Quan Vuong, the research found that a specific brewing technique using a microwave for half a minute activated 80 percent of caffeine, theanine (a relaxation-inducing amino acid), and polyphenol (antioxidants that prevent degenerative diseases) compounds in black and green teas. This was found regardless of whether the product was in loose-leaf form or tea bags.
In comparison, brewing tea in the traditional manner for 30 seconds only brings out 10 percent of the beneficial compounds. To release the same amount of compounds as zapping tea in the microwave for half a minute, people would have to brew tea at 80 degrees for 20 minutes.
What's the method? Vuong's advice is the following:
- Pour hot water into a microwave-safe mug and add a tea bag.
- Heat the mug and its contents in the microwave for 30 seconds on half (50 percent) power.
- Let the mug sit for a minute before taking out the tea bag or drinking the tea.
If we're to accept that drinking microwave-heated tea is the healthy way to go, then how many cups a day does one need to see benefits of these activated compounds? According to Vuong, it's three cups a day.
But all this may be a moot point for Americans. According to the Tea Association of the United States, Americans consumed 84 billion servings of tea in 2016 and 80 percent of the tea consumed is iced — no microwave or kettle required for that.
What do you think? Would you consider microwaving your tea instead of using a kettle? Let us know in the comments.