Tea has been a part of our culture for thousands of years. When you wake up to a cup of tea, you know that it boosts your mood. But, do you know other amazing things it can do for your overall health?
All non-herbal teas are made from the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The variations in the processing steps make them different. For example, some of them undergo oxidation, while others don’t. The caffeine in these teas improves your brain function.1 Other herbal teas like peppermint tea and chamomile tea are made from the infusion of herbs, fruits, or spices in hot water. And they do not contain caffeine. Stay here to know more about different types of tea and their benefits.
1. Green Tea
This is one of the least processed teas. The amount of oxidation green teas undergo is very less. After picking, the fresh leaves are heated to inactivate enzymes, preventing oxidation.2 Thus, they retain most antioxidants, which make them special.
- Green tea is rich in powerful antioxidants called polyphenols.3 These antioxidants are capable of neutralizing free radicals, thus, preventing damages they create such as heart disease and aging.
- The presence of catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea lowers bad cholesterol (LDL).4
- Apart from lowering cholesterol, this widely consumed beverage may reduce blood pressure, another heart disease risk factor.5
- Also, the polyphenols play a role in protecting you from cancer. According to various population-based studies, both green tea and black tea help protect against cancer.6 A research study has indicated a lower risk of breast cancer with green tea consumption.7 However, whether green tea can cure cancer is still not proven. If you have diabetes, rely on green tea polyphenols and polysaccharides to control your blood sugar levels.8
- You may have heard green tea can burn calories. The catechins or EGCG – caffeine mixture may have a small positive effect on weight loss and weight management.9 However, more research is needed to prove it.
- Children should not drink green tea as there are no studies on its pediatric use.10
- Sometimes it may interact with other medications like adenosine, benzodiazepines, and birth control pills.11
- If you suffer from liver problems, kidney problems, heart problems, or high blood pressure, talk to your practitioner before you use green tea.12
- Drinking more than five cups of green tea a day may lead to more risks rather than benefits.13
2. Black Tea
The tea leaves are oxidized completely during the production process of black tea. And this oxidation stage provides the aroma, flavor, and color to it.
- Drinking black tea with your normal diet can decrease cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure because of the antioxidant effects of tea polyphenols.14
- It also improves the overall antioxidant status in humans.
- Moreover, polyphenols may limit the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. Thus, it significantly lowers LDL cholesterol, especially in people with higher cardiovascular risk.15
- Are you worried about cigarette smoke-induced lung injury? Include black tea in your diet. A research study on animals has indicated that supplementation of black tea can prevent such damage.16
- Apart from these benefits, the presence of fluorine in black tea can prevent your teeth from decay.
- Supporting beneficial intestinal microflora, it also protects you from intestinal disorders.17
- Too much black tea (more than five cups a day) is not safe.
- Black tea which contains more than 10 grams of caffeine is likely unsafe. This high amount may cause death or other harmful side effects.
- Small amounts of black tea are possibly safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Limit to 3 cups of black tea a day.
- People who have anemia, anxiety disorders, bleeding disorders, diabetes, heart problems, diarrhea, and glaucoma should use black tea with caution.
3. White Tea
Young leaves or growth buds undergo minimum oxidation in the production of white tea. Dry heat or steam are used to stop the oxidation process.
- Like green tea, white tea can increase the antioxidant capacity.19
- It contains catechins, a specific type of polyphenol, which can improve your cardiovascular function.
- These catechins may also increase metabolism, promoting weight loss.20
- The preliminary research found that white tea extract has more effective anti-cancer properties. However, more studies need to be done to recognize this property of white tea.21
- The usual consumption of white tea is safe.
- However, high intake of it may affect absorption of iron. But, more detailed studies are required on this.22
4. Oolong Tea
This tea is the most complex of all the tea categories. It is partially oxidized with characteristics of both green and black tea.23
- By drinking oolong tea, you can reduce your diet-induced overweight or obesity. It reduces body fat content and body weight through improved lipid metabolism.24
- Like green tea, the presence of powerful antioxidants, polyphenols in oolong tea enhances your digestive system.
- In addition, they help in preventing cancer and heart disease.25
- If you suffer from eczema, you can rely on oolong tea to get relief.26 The antiallergic properties of tea polyphenols might be the factor behind this.
- Long-term intake of oolong tea may increase the risk of developing diabetes.27 Further studies are required on this.
- Massive ingestion of oolong tea leads to high caffeine intake, which may result in rhabdomyolysis – a condition that affects muscle tissue.28
5. Chamomile Tea
This is one of the most popular herbal teas. It is prepared from the dried flowers of Matricaria.
- Chamomile tea is an effective sleep-inducer. Traditionally, chamomile tea has been used to treat insomnia.29 The flavonoids, a group of antioxidant phytonutrients are believed to be responsible for the sedative effect.
- It is also claimed that the tea fights cold, sore throats, acne, eczema, digestive problems, and boosts immunity. However, more studies are needed to establish these health benefits of chamomile tea.
- Animal studies have indicated that German chamomile improves inflammation, wound healing, and muscle spasms.30
- Chamomile tea is also effective in preventing the progress of hyperglycemia and diabetic complications.31
- And the good news is that if you wash your face with chamomile tea, it will leave a healthy glow on your face.32
- Large amounts of highly concentrated chamomile tea may cause nausea and vomiting.33
- Do not drive after drinking the tea as it causes drowsiness.34
- Pregnant women, people with asthma, and those who are allergic to ragweed should not drink chamomile tea.35
- Most chamomile-induced reactions occurred because of Roman chamomile than German chamomile, the type typically grown in the United States.36
- Talk to your doctor for pediatric use. You should not give more than half a cup of tea for children under five.37
- Be careful of possible interactions of this herb with a few drugs like those for blood pressure and diabetes.38
6. Rooibos Tea
Consumed in South Africa for centuries, this red in color tea is made by fermenting the leaves from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis. The caffeine-free herbal drink with low tannin level is an alternative to black or green tea.
- If you want to strengthen your bones, drink this tea. The protective antioxidant effect of its polyphenols could benefit your bones.39
- Even though many consider it as a source of vitamins and minerals, studies prove it wrong. Except for copper and fluoride, it does not have any other minerals.40
- But, it can be a source of dietary antioxidants in humans. The antioxidant properties of aspalathin and nothofagin may benefit the treatment of diabetic complications.41
- Moreover, raising the good cholesterol level and improving blood pressure, it can reduce the risk for heart diseases.42
- Also, quercetin and luteolin, the two flavonoids present in rooibos tea are potent antioxidants that can inhibit the growth of pancreatic tumor cells.43
- A case study has indicated that large amounts of rooibos tea may increase liver enzymes.44
Tea Leaves vs Tea Bags
Now that you know the benefits of tea, you must be wondering about the best way to make a tea? Tea bags or tea leaves? The debate whether tea bags are as good as tea leaves is going on for a long time. Tea phytochemicals such as catechins degrade over time.45 Also, catechins are higher in the whole leaf than in the pieces and dust. Hence, tea bags may lack some of the benefits. Moreover, tea bags itself may absorb some of the catechins, thus, making the tea less nutritious. And they may restrict leaves from interacting with water.46 However, tea bags are not without merits. The dust and fannings in the tea bag are more likely to interact with the water.47 Even though there are no studies to back up, it is believed that tea tastes best when made with tea leaves.
Brewing a tasty cup of tea brings you many health benefits. But, make sure that you brew it the right way. Use fresh cold water, bottled or filtered water instead of hot tap water, which has less oxygen. For a cup of tea, heat about 8-ounces of water and use 1 tea bag or 1 teaspoon of loose tea.48 However, if the tea is too strong or too weak, you can change the amount accordingly. Also, preheat the teapot or cup in which your tea leaves will be steeped by filling it with hot water. Cover the tea mug when you steep tea leaves directly in it. For the correct brewing time and temperature, follow the directions as prescribed in the tea package.
References [ + ]
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|17.||↑||Crum, Hannh, Alex LaGory. The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea. Storey Publishing, 2016.|
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|22.||↑||Pérez-Llamas, Francisca, Daniel González, Lorena Cabrera, Cristobal Espinosa, Jose A. López, Elvira Larqué, M. Pilar Almajano, and Salvador Zamora. “White tea consumption slightly reduces iron absorption but not growth, food efficiency, protein utilization, or calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc absorption in rats.” Journal of physiology and biochemistry 67, no. 3 (2011): 331-337.|
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|24.||↑||He, Rong-rong, Ling Chen, Bing-hui Lin, Yokichi Matsui, Xin-sheng Yao, and Hiroshi Kurihara. “Beneficial effects of oolong tea consumption on diet-induced overweight and obese subjects.” Chinese journal of integrative medicine 15, no. 1 (2009): 34-41.|
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|26.||↑||Uehara, Masami, Hisashi Sugiura, and Kensei Sakurai. “A trial of oolong tea in the management of recalcitrant atopic dermatitis.” Archives of dermatology 137, no. 1 (2001): 42-43.|
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|32.||↑||Finlay, Sandra M. Home Remedies to Indulge Your Skin, Scalp and Hair. Lulu Press, 2013.|
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|35.||↑||German chamomile. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
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|45, 46.||↑||Does tea lose its health benefits if it’s been stored a long time? And is it better to use loose tea or tea bags? Tufts Now.|
|47.||↑||Bagged tea versus loose leaf: Which is better? Go Ask Alice.|
|48.||↑||Brewing A Tasty Cup Of Tea. University Of Nebraska-Lincoln.|