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 plant Camellia sinensis. Differences in the processing of the leaves make different types of tea. For example, some leaves 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. Read on to know more about different types of tea and their benefits.
1. Green Tea
Green tea is the least processed, which is why it retains its green color. After picking, the fresh leaves are heated to inactivate enzymes and prevent oxidation.2 It, thus, retains most of its inherent antioxidants. Here are some of its benefits:
- Prevents heart disease and aging: Green tea is rich in powerful antioxidants called polyphenols.3 Polyphenols neutralize damaging free radicals, preventing health problems like heart disease and the natural process of aging.
- Stabilizes cholesterol: The presence of catechin type of polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea lowers bad cholesterol (LDL).4
- Lowers blood pressure: This widely consumed beverage may reduce blood pressure, another heart disease risk factor.5
- Prevents cancer: The polyphenols in green tea may also help protect us from cancer. According to 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.
- Stabilizes blood sugar: If you have diabetes, rely on green tea polyphenols and polysaccharides to control your blood sugar levels.8
- Supports weight management: 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 green tea may cross-interact with medications like adenosine, benzodiazepines, and birth control pills.11
- If you suffer from liver, kidney, or heart problems or hypertension, talk to your health practitioner before you drink green tea.12
- Drinking more than 5 cups of green tea a day may lead to more risks rather than benefits.13
2. Black Tea
Tea leaves are oxidized completely during the production process of black tea. And this oxidation stage provides the aroma, flavor, and color to it. Here are some ways black tea can benefit you:
- Protects the heart: Black tea improves the overall antioxidant status in humans. Because of this, incorporating black tea into your regular diet can decrease cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure.14
- Lowers LDL-C: Tea polyphenols may limit the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. It can, thus, significantly lower LDL cholesterol, especially in people with a higher cardiovascular risk.15
- Protects the lungs: Are you worried about cigarette smoke-induced lung injury? Include black tea in your diet. A research study on animals has indicated that consumption of black tea can prevent such damage.16
- Inhibits dental decay: The presence of fluorine in black tea can prevent our teeth from decay.
- Supports gastrointestinal health: Supporting the growth of beneficial intestinal microflora, black tea protects us from intestinal disorders.17
- Too much black tea (more than 5 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 drink 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. White tea offers us the following benefits:
- Supplies antioxidants: Like green tea, white tea can increase the antioxidant capacity.19
- Strengthens the heart: Like other teas, white tea contains catechins which can improve cardiovascular function.
- Promotes weight loss: The catechins may also increase our metabolic rate, promoting weight loss.20
- Prevents cancer: Preliminary research has found that white tea extract has effective anti-cancer properties. However, more studies need to be done to consolidate this trait.21
- High intake of white tea, more than the normal 2–3 cups a day, may affect our body’s absorption of iron. While further studies are required to prove this, it is best to exert caution and drink this tea in moderation.22
4. Oolong Tea
This tea is the most complex of all the classes of tea. It is partially oxidized with characteristics of both green and black tea.23 It, too, can do us a lot of good:
- Fights obesity: Oolong tea reduces body fat content and body weight through improved lipid metabolism.24 By drinking oolong tea, you can, thus, reduce your risks of diet-induced weight gain or obesity.
- Enhances digestion: Like green tea, the powerful polyphenols in oolong tea enhance the functions of our digestive system.
- Prevents cancer and heart disease: Oolong tea has been implicated in cancer prevention and cardiovascular health.25
- Treats eczema: If you suffer from eczema, you can rely on oolong tea to get relief.26 The anti-allergic properties of polyphenols are likely to be responsible.
- Long-term intake of oolong tea may increase the risk of developing diabetes.27
- Excessive consumption of oolong tea entails a high caffeine intake. This 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. Here’s how well our body responds:
- Supports overall health: It is claimed that Chamomile tea fights colds, sore throats, acne, eczema, and digestive problems, while also boosting immunity. Further studies are needed to establish these claims. Animal studies have indicated that German chamomile can also decrease inflammation, quicken wound healing, and reduce muscle spasms.29
- Promotes sleep: Chamomile tea is an effective sleep-inducer. Chamomile tea has been traditionally used to treat insomnia.30 The flavonoids, a group of antioxidant phytonutrients are believed to be responsible for its sedative effect.
- Stabilizes blood sugar: Chamomile tea is effective in preventing the progress of hyperglycemia and diabetic complications.31
- Brightens complexion: 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 occur because of Roman chamomile rather 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 to children under 5.37
- Be careful about possible herb-drug interactions if you are on blood pressure or diabetes medications.38
6. Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea, a caffeine-free herbal drink with a low level of tannins, is an alternative to black or green tea. Consumed in South Africa for centuries, this red tea is made by fermenting the leaves from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis. Here are some of its benefits:
- Treats diabetes: Rooibos tea can be a rich source of dietary antioxidants in humans. The antioxidant properties of aspalathin and nothofagin may help resolve diabetic complications.39
- Supports bone health: If you want to strengthen your bones, drink rooibos tea. Here again, the polyphenols seem to play a role.40
- Protects the heart: Raising the level of good cholesterol and improving blood pressure, rooibos tea can reduce the risk of heart disease.41
- Protects against pancreatic cancer: Quercetin and luteolin, the two flavonoids present in rooibos tea, are potent antioxidants that can inhibit the growth of pancreatic tumor cells.42
Even though many consider rooibos tea to be a good source of vitamins and minerals, studies prove otherwise. Besides copper and fluoride, it does not possess any other minerals.43
- A case study has indicated that large amounts of rooibos tea may increase the activity of liver enzymes.44
7. Kombucha Fermented Tea
Kombucha is a variety of fermented black or green tea. Being fermented, it has gained popularity as a source of probiotics and is, thus, claimed to work wonders for the digestive system. Here are some other benefits:
- Strengthens immunity: Kombucha supports our immune system, promotes antioxidation, and detoxes our systems.45 Because of this, it is believed that this tea can prevent a range of metabolic disorders and infections like UTIs.46 Kombucha can also give you an involuntary energy boost, helping you feel livelier.
- Supplies antioxidants: The fermentation process increases the level of antioxidants in tea – which is why kombucha tea is richer in antioxidants than unfermented tea. This can have an array of implications such as suppressed inflammation and prevention of metabolic disorders.47
- Prevents stomach ulcers: By preserving the mucus lining the stomach and controlling stomach acid production, kombucha helps prevent the development of stomach ulcers.48
- Lead and other toxic metals may leach out from metal containers traditionally used for storage. This happens because of the acidic nature of kombucha.
- Unconventional fermentation and storage methods have raised concerns about fungal contamination in the tea.49 This is more of a concern for individuals with weak immunities or pregnant women.
Commercially prepared kombucha is usually under strict scrutinization by regulatory bodies. This makes them the safer bet compared to home-brewed kombucha.
8. Fruit Tea
Popular for their flavor and low caffeine content, fruit teas are hot water infusions of fruits, fruit peels, or leaves of fruit-bearing trees. They have been associated with the following benefits:50
- Supplies antioxidants: Fruit teas are a rich source of phenols. We now know what these compounds ar capable of.
- Lowers blood sugar: Being rich in cholorogenic acid, a phenolic compound, fruit teas can lower blood sugar. They may, thus, be able to bring type-2 diabetes under control.
- Fights cancers: Fruit teas are also rich in caffeic acid, another phenolic compound reported to have anti-cancer and tumor-shrinking properties.
Appealing to your senses of smell and taste, fruit teas can be considered a good source of antioxidants and make a great addition to a healthy diet.
9. Yellow Tea
Yellow tea is a rather rare type of tea found in southeast Asia, particularly China and Japan. It is a more elaborately processed version of green tea, which is why it is similar to green tea in many ways. It contains the same catechins as other types of tea but in different quantities. Yellow tea is mostly touted for its hepatoprotective effects:
- Protects the liver: A study on rats showed that extracts of yellow tea extract could protect the liver from developing cancer.51 Another study showed that yellow tea could protect the liver from chemically-induced injury, more so than other types of tea.52 Studies in humans are yet to be done, but these results look promising.
Tea Leaves vs Tea Bags
Now that you know the benefits of tea, you’re probably wondering what is the best way to make a tea. Tea bags or tea leaves? The ongoing debate whether tea bags are as good as tea leaves is an old one.
- In favor of tea leaves: Tea phytochemicals such as catechins degrade over time.53 They are also present in higher concentrations in whole leaves rather than in pieces and dust. Hence, tea bags may lack some of the benefits. Moreover, tea bags may absorb some of the catechins, making the tea less nutritious. They may also restrict necessary leaf-water interactions.54
- In favor of tea bags: Tea bags are not without merits. The dust and fannings in the tea bag are more likely to interact with the water.55
Verdict: Although there are no backing scientific studies, it is widely believed that tea tastes best when made with tea leaves.
Tips To Brew Tea Right
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.56 However, if the tea is too strong or too weak, you can change the amount accordingly.
- 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 on the tea package.
References [ + ]
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|53, 54.||↑||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.|
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