Spilling the Tea: Health Benefits of Tea
Teas have been used for socialization and medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and for good reason! Several studies have shed light on the various health benefits teas can provide. Read more to learn why people have been drinking tea for centuries. Who knows, you may become inspired to incorporate more tea into your routine and even become a tea connoisseur!
Originating from Asia, white teas are known for their delicate flavors and being the least processed. Due to the unfermented and uncured leaves, studies have shown that white tea contains high levels of antioxidants and anticancer properties compared to more highly processed teas. Tea leaves are made up of Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin. Catechins are high in antioxidants, have antimicrobial effects, help strengthen teeth and fight plaque, lower cholesterol and inhibit the increase of blood pressure. Examples of white tea include Jasmine, Silver Needle, and White Peony ea. White tea offers the least amount of caffeine, making it easier for individuals who want to avoid or limit caffeine consumption.
Tisanes is another name for herbal teas. Herbal teas are similar to white tea, but herbal teas contain a blend of herbs, spices, fruit, and tea leaves. Herbal teas are caffeine-free, which is why they are typically known for their calming effects. There is a variety of herbal tea, all with unique benefits. Some popular herbal teas include chamomile, peppermint, and hibiscus tea. Chamomile has been known for its sleep and relaxation benefits. Peppermint is known to help soothe an upset stomach and offer pain relief from tension headaches. Hibiscus has been used to help lower blood pressure and fat levels, and help improve overall liver health. There are so many herbal teas that you can choose from and each has its unique health benefits.
Originating from Asia, green tea leaves are oxidized through a process with heat via steam creating a chemical composition within the tea leaves increasing the concentration of EGCG. The catechins and flavonoids are higher in green tea leaves than in white, increasing the health benefits. Studies have shown that green tea benefits can help boost your heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and reducing blood clotting. Additional research has found that green tea has a possible impact on liver, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. Some examples of green tea varieties include Matcha, Sencha and Hojicha. It is important to note that green tea does contain some caffeine if you are an individual that is sensitive to caffeine or wants to limit your consumption of caffeine.
Originating from Asia, black tea leaves come from the same plant that is used to make green tea, however, the difference is the oxidization process. Black tea leaves are dried and then fermented for a longer period, giving them darker color and richer flavor. Black tea contains flavonoids that help combat inflammation and support immune function. It also contains several vitamins that are considered essential in maintaining good health. Black tea is also known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties and can be applied to cuts, bruises, and burns for wound cleaning, healing support and pain relief. Some examples of black tea include Yunnan and Darjeeling. Unlike the other tea varieties, black tea is caffeinated so it is important to monitor your consumption.
Oolong tea is a combination of green tea and black tea. Oolong’s tea oxidation process is stopped right before the tea leaves become brown, leaving it in the spectrum between green and black tea leaves. Due to this process of oolong tea being partially oxidized, it combines the health benefits from green and black tea, containing a high amount of antioxidant properties. Research has shown that oolong tea is notable for containing L-theanine, an amino acid that can help reduce anxiety and increase alertness. L-theanine was also found to help prevent cognitive diseases like Parkinson’s. Oolong tea may also be effective in improving symptoms that may be associated with weak kidneys and spleen. Examples of oolong tea include Milk Oolong and Wuyi Oolong Tea.
The Final Cup of Tea
Although research is still ongoing to pin down all of the health benefits that different teas have to offer, brewing a cup of tea is a great way to add some healthy nutrients to your day. Just be mindful of its caffeine content if you are trying to limit your intake and how it is sweetened to avoid high sugar intake. Happy tea drinking!
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Written by: Heidi Baltodano, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern