Published: 09/08/2015 - Updated: 08/14/2019
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
Drinking infusions for a lot of people represents one of the simple pleasures in life that one can experience throughout the work day. Just soak plant-based materials in a solvent to extract certain chemical extracts that you may be interested in, including smells, flavors, antioxidants, caffeine, and a long list of etc. The most commonly used solvent is water. Some beverages prepared in this method that immediately come to mind are coffee and tea. These are undoubtedly the most easily procured infusions whenever you go to the office.
Both of these beverages have interesting properties and histories. Both share the fact that they contain the famous substance known as caffeine that a lot of people depend on more than once when they go to work.
Caffeine get started with a complex chemical function as soon as it enters the body. It stimulates the nervous system, eliminates fatigue, accelerates muscles and sometimes it can even cause cardiac arrhythmia in certain people because of the complex way it behaves in the body. Combined with what we previously mentioned, both tea and coffee have been found to be the two primary sources of antioxidants that people have in their diets today. Of course, this is beneficial for the body.
Tea comes from Asia, and there is really only one kind of tea. This tea comes from tree leaves from Camellia sinesis, and its different varieties. It can be prepared in a lot of different ways: fermented, prepared with milk, frozen, with additional flavorings, etc. But from the start, this tea is only prepared from this specific plant.
Other preparations that don’t contain it are not tea, they are simply infusions, although they are by no means any less interesting. It stands out because of its bitter flavor and the amount of caffeine it contains. It also has another chemical component, known as theophylline, which is related to, and even stronger than, caffeine. There is less of this chemical, however, in tea leaves, and considering that when preparing tea in an infusion, we use even less leaves than the grounds used for coffee, there is even less of this chemical than one might think.
Coffee, on the other hand, comes from Africa. There are two species cultivated worldwide, Coffea Arabica (Arabic coffee) and Coffea canephora (Robust coffee). Arabic coffee is undoubtedly most commonly found on the market. It is chosen for its more complex flavor, and it also has less caffeine than robust coffee. In addition to its wonderful antioxidant effects, it’s also important that people with cholesterol problems consider drinking coffee.
There are two types of fats in coffee that help balance cholesterol levels, however they are only present when the preparation is not as strong as regular coffee (like instant coffee). One should use lesser amounts of the grounds, and the coffee should be counteracted by other substances within the coffee, so it is therefore best to first consult an expert for an analysis before drinking coffee.
We are going to briefly speak about two of the most important infusions worldwide. There are, however, a wide variety of plants that are commonly used, that not only make it easier to consume liquids, but they also provide effects similar to those caused by tea or coffee. One example of which is chamomile, which is famous for helping people that suffer from anxiety (although it seems as if this only creates a moderate effect). It also helps the digestive process, and comes in two species, Chamomilla recutita and Chamomilla nobile. The oils in this plant contain anti-inflammatory properties, and the flavonoids contained therein help reduce the risk of suffering from cardiac disorders, just like anything else in general that contains flavonoids. In short, chamomile is not only aromatic, but it is also chemically interesting, and is worth further investigation.
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A very popular and commonly prepared flower in my country is hibiscus, which is served frozen in a drink that is called “refreshing water”. Hibiscus flowers are highly recommended for people with low blood pressure, they are rich in vitamin C and minerals like iron.
But when talking about infusions, it’s worth looking ever further beyond the obvious benefits. There is a whole complex world of chemicals in plants, but make sure to talk to your doctor before freely using these plants. These components can cause several different effects that, although most of the time these effects are positive for most people, there are some situations in which they may not be so beneficial for others.
Don’t forget about infusions using mint, cinnamon, lemon blossom, anise, etc. You should definitely explore these beautiful flavors for your beverages.
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