The world’s most popular drink, tea, has been revered for centuries and is consumed daily by billions of people. It is thought to be good for health, happiness, and wisdom. Apart from tasting good and being soothing, tea has a wide array of positive health benefits from weight loss to cancer prevention. Tea also offers an energy boost thanks to its caffeine content. According to healthland.com, Americans drink an average of 155 cups, or ten gallons, of tea annually. Additionally, five out of six Americans are tea drinkers.
Health researchers attribute the health properties of tea to polyphenols and phytochemicals. The four varieties of tea include, black, green, white, and oolong, which are all made from the camellia sinensis plant. The difference in teas comes from how it is prepared (e.g. fermented, non-fermented) which effects the flavor, as well as, the nutritional content. All teas are hydrating and help fight off free-radicals which can damage the body’s DNA. Tea also increases the activity of insulin up to 15 times. But each type has its own unique properties to aid in health and well-being.
Black tea is the most popular of the teas throughout the world. According to webmd.com, 78% of tea consumed globally is black tea, and it makes up 90% of the tea consumed in America. With 40mg of caffeine per cup (coffee ranges from 50-100 mg) black tea has the highest caffeine content of the four major types of tea. Known for its strong, bold flavor, this tea is made from fermented leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, and is commonly used a base for flavor rich teas such as chai. Qualities in black tea may protect from strokes or developing heart disease, this is because the tea helps blood vessels dilate. Along with heart health, black tea has been linked to preventing lung damage from smoking, cancer prevention and even reducing the build-up of plaque on teeth.
Green tea is the second most widely consumed type of tea. This tea is made from unfermented steamed tea leaves. Packed with antioxidants, green tea is good for overall health but is known to help prevent cancer in the breast, lungs, and stomach. Like black tea, it is also good for the heart and can reduce the risk of stroke of heart disease. Green tea aids in oxidation which helps keep the brain healthy and prevent diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons. Like other teas, green tea also assists in fat-burning and lowering cholesterol. Green tea has a delicate flavor and one cup contains about 25 mg of caffeine.
Oolong tea, similar to black tea, is fermented and has 30 mg of caffeine per cup. It has a richer taste than green tea without the bitterness found in black tea. Oolongs most noted attribute is its prevention of tooth decay and the ability to aid in weight loss. Healthland.com states that oolong tea activates enzymes in the body that are responsible for dissolving triglycerides, which are a type of dietary fat that gets stored in fat cells. Researchers have said that oolong tea boosts metabolism for up to two hours after drinking.
The fourth and most mild of teas is white tea. With only 15 mg of caffeine per cup, white tea is made from unfermented leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, similar to green tea. White tea has the same cancer-fighting and cardiovascular benefits of other teas but it contains the most powerful antioxidants and is the least processed type of tea. White tea is also a natural bacteria and virus killer due to its high levels of antioxidants that keep the immune system strong and healthy.
With no apparent downsides to tea, it is no wonder why it is the most commonly consumed beverage around the world. With the ability to keep the heart healthy, brain functioning efficiently, and fight off several types of cancers, it may be a good idea to trade in the morning juice for a nice cup of tea, hot or iced.