Did you know that after water, tea is the most highly consumed beverage in the world? In fact, tea has been touted as a superfood for nearly 5000 years. From protecting against heart disease, promoting weight loss, boosting immune system function plus anti-cancer effects, the heath effects of a humble cup of tea are well documented.
Whether you prefer your tea hot or cold, black, green, white or herbal – each type of tea contains a unique blend making it the perfect compliment to any diet.
It was only a couple of years ago that I became more interested in what exactly was in my tea. I knew what sort of flavours I liked, sure, but I had no clue how the different teas could be beneficial health-wise.
There are so many different types of teas with a wide variety of flavours and health benefits. Today, I will start with the basics.
One plant – three teas. Black tea, green tea and white tea are all made from the same plant (the Camellia sinensis plant), although they undergo different processing. All three types of tea contain significant amounts of catechins, a type of disease-fighting flavonoid and antioxidant that help to fight off cellular damage in the body. As a general rule, the longer you steep the tea, the more flavonoids you’ll get in your brew.
Green tea: Has a high concentration of EGCG, a catechin (potent antioxidant) found in teas. Its high antioxidant level may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and reduce risk of stroke.
Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke and may reduce the risk of stroke.
White tea: Uncured and unfermented tea. The leaves are picked when they are very young, giving it a more milder flavor than the other varieties, as well as making it less caffeinated. In terms of health, white tea has been shown to contain even greater anti-oxidant capacity versus green tea, and studies have shown white tea to have a potent anti-bacterial, anti-viral effect.