Hot or cold, green, black, white or herbal, for more than 5000 years we consume tea for its refreshing taste, energizing boost and health benefits.
Each tea has unique benefits, yet with a humble cup of tea, our body and mind get many essential nutrients we might not be aware of. However, which tea should we be drinking? Which kind is the best? And why should we drink it?
Health benefits of tea are well documented, with numerous studies showing why we should enjoy a cup of tea.
The reason tea is one of the healthiest beverages in the world is due to antioxidants (polyphenols) and phytochemicals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition featured many studies that explain the benefits of tea, presenting numerous reasons why tea is a mighty health booster:
- Tea could help reduce the risk of heart attack, and help protect against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
- The antioxidants help protect against many cancers (stomach, skin, lung, breast, colon, liver)
- Tea helps destroy and fight free radicals (the damage of these free radicals is linked to heart disease and cancer).
- Tea is linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.
- Tea is a hydrating drink despite caffeine; it maintains a normal hydration.
- Tea protect from ultraviolet rays (green tea polyphenols protect from ultraviolet injury).
- Tea can counteract the negative effects of smoking.
- Green tea might improve bone mineral density and protect against fracture.
- Tea is found to be beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes (green tea helps better process of sugars)
- Antioxidants and caffeine increase metabolism and promote weight loss.
- Tea is found to be effective in the treatment of neurological diseases.
- Antioxidants increase the body’s ability to burn fat (and could improve muscle endurance).
- Tea helps with learning, memory, concentration and performance.
Thus, which are the healthiest teas?
First, you need to know the difference between tea varieties; green, black, oolong and white teas are derived from one particular plant Camellia sinensis (they undergo different processes), and herbal tea, which isn’t technically a tea, is an infusion of a different plant.
Black tea contains the most caffeine (40 milligrams per cup) and has a bitter flavor. Black tea contains thearubigins and theaflavin, antioxidants that are helpful in lowering the cholesterol levels. Traditional cuppa is rich in manganese and fluoride, which keeps the bones strong. One study at University College London found that black tea decreases the levels of stress hormone cortisol. If you drink three or more cups of black tea on a daily basis, you will cut the risk of stroke by 21 percent, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found in a study that involved 75,000 men and women.
Note: Black tea is the most processed tea of all teas.
Green tea contains 25 milligrams of caffeine per cup, and is rich in antioxidants called catechins. According to scientists from Tokyo, green tea is best for weight loss, all due to compounds that raise metabolism. Green tea is a stimulant; it increases the concentration of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, and due to caffeine, green tea improves mood, memory and other brain functions. It also lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases and the risk of infections.
This is a hybrid tea with the second-highest caffeine and antioxidant levels (after green tea). It helps lower the cholesterol, treats digestive problems and, by boosting metabolism, aids in weight loss (it activates an enzyme that dissolves triglycerides which are stored in fat cells). It’s similar to black tea, however, it has slightly richer taste. The Journal of Investigative Medicine published a study that found that 2 to 3 cups of oolong tea a day results in a 10 percent increase in metabolism in women.
The least processed tea (leaves are still in bud form), similar to green tea, but has a lighter, sweeter taste. It has 15 milligrams of caffeine per cup, and offers the same health benefits as green tea, having great potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral effect. According to one study, white tea keeps the skin’s natural elastin and collagen, and blocks fat cells from forming.
As we already said, herbal tea isn’t technically a tea, however, the infusion of dried fruits, herbs, seeds, roots and flowers have many health benefits we get from the plants.
Peppermint tea is in general a soothing drink, recommended for muscle spasms and digestive issues. A cup of this tea will also help with nausea and vomiting (motion sickness). It’s also good for mild coughs, asthma, congestion and stress.
Chamomile tea is a calming tea that is usually the best aid for insomnia. In cases of cold, fever or bronchitis, chamomile is also very beneficial. People usually drink chamomile tea to help them relax and deal better with stress.
Lemon balm tea is a winter tea for anxiety that improves concentration. When mixed with peppermint tea, it helps with an upset stomach. Lemon balm tea is also safe for children.
Nettle tea is one of the best herbal teas due to numerous health benefits of nettle. It helps with anemia, rheumatism, high blood pressure, coughs and colds, congestion, urinary tract infection and kidney problems.
Ginger tea is an energizing drink, mostly used for upset stomach and nausea. When consumed with lemon juice and honey it is a powerful germ-fighting drink.
Echinacea tea is the best prevention from the common cold, and the best booster for immune system. It also relieves the pain, and reduces inflammation.
Rosehip tea is the best source of vitamin C. These fruits of the rose plant are great for immune system and skin.
Flavored teais a combination of aromatic extracts (cinnamon, lavender, and orange for instance) and white, black or green tee having the same levels of antioxidants and health benefits as unflavored tea. Blueberry tea, however, contains even more antioxidants, and lavender tea has even more powerful benefits for those who have sleep problems and who are dealing with asthma, cold or bronchitis.
What else should you know?
The quality of the tea depends on its processing and the way it was brewed.
Some of these health benefits need more research.
Which is your favorite tea?
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