03 Jun Tea Varieties and Health Benefits
It is starting to become common knowledge that tea offers a wealth of nutritional benefits. From lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and cancer prevention, the different tea varieties promote a whole list of health benefits.
All tea is derived from the plant camellia sinensis, with the exception of herbal teas. Tea contains less caffeine than coffee, however combined with its theanine it still stimulates brain function and mental alertness.
Black Tea goes through a fermentation process where the leaves are withered, rolled, and heated. Drinking devoid of sugar or other condiments is how to truly reap the benefits of black tea. Black tea has been attributed to lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and the risk of diabetes. Those who regularly enjoy black tea have displayed evidence of stronger bones and better oral health. Like many teas, black tea has been studied in relation to the prevention and reduction of cancer. Studies have shown that women who regularly drink black tea have lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. Despite its lower caffeine content than coffee, black tea still contains the highest level of caffeine of all teas, and can offer increased energy by enhancing blood flow to the brain without the heart becoming over-stimulated.
Chamomile Tea is of the herbal variety from the daisy family, and not harvested from the camellia sinensis plant. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer its own health benefits. Chamomile contains antioxidants (bisabolol oxide A) that have anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to shrink cancer cells in studies as well as relieve side effects from diabetes. Mild enough for small children, chamomile has been used to treat insomnia and stomach pain since ancient times.
Green Tea is processed avoiding the fermentation process, thus producing more health benefits than its black tea counterpart. Green tea is packed with antioxidant catechins that aid in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. Studies have shown that a person that drinks at least one cup of green tea a day can have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who do not. Other benefits of green tea are that it helps delay the mind deterioration caused by Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases. Green tea is also good at relieving stress; the theanine amino acid reduces depression by providing a relaxing effect. Topical use of green tea has been attributed with reducing the signs of aging as well.
Oolong Tea is somewhere in between black and green tea in regards of taste and fermentation (slightly fermented and semi-oxidized). Oolong, also known as wu long, is a traditional beverage of China and Taiwan with more than 400 years of history that is packed with antioxidants that fight against free radicals and promotes many strong healing properties. Some of the benefits experienced from drinking Oolong tea on a daily basis: boosted metabolism, lower cholesterol, increased mental alertness, improved digestion (reduces inflammation from acid reflux/ulcers), healthier skin and hair, steadies blood sugar levels, improved oral health, osteoporosis preventative (contains calcium and magnesium!), strengthens immune system to protect against cancer and other autoimmune deficiencies.
Pu-erh Tea derives from the same plant as Black, Green, and Oolong teas, the camellia sinensis, just using a post-fermentation process. Pu-erh, primarily produced in the Yunnan district in China, is taken for its medicinal purposes and benefits. This highly aged tea is used for reducing cholesterol because it contains small amounts of the chemical lovastatin, which is also a prescription drug. While Pu-erh contains caffeine, though not as much as other teas, it still promotes mental alertness. It has also been seen to lower blood pressure and increase metabolism.
Rooibos Tea, pronounced ROY-boss, is harvested from a red bush plant in South Africa, making it of the herbal variety. The naturally caffeine-free, antioxidant-packed Rooibos brings so many health benefits to the table it’s hard to name them all. Some of the more noteworthy ones however are: prevents some cancers, contains vital minerals for health (magnesium, calcium, manganese, zinc, iron), improves circulation, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, relieves stomach issues (such as cramps, indigestion, and colic in babies), healthier skin (fights against acne, psoriasis, and eczema), protects against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and fights against insomnia.
White Tea is derived from tea leaves that have been steamed, fired, then dried, making it the least processed of all the teas, thus preserving its disease fighting characteristics. With high levels of the catechin antioxidant, white tea inhibits the growth and progression of cancer cells. The American Cancer Society has even noted that white tea has lowered the recurrence of breast cancer in survivors. Aside from its cancer-fighting properties white tea is also helpful in fighting against heart related diseases and issues.
Yerba Mate Tea is made from grinding dried/aged leaves and stems of the Yerba Mate plant from South America. Promoting a bold, caffeinated boost without the side effects, Yerba Mate aids in enhanced focus of the central nervous system. Loaded with antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals, Yerba Mate offers many health benefits. With more than 90% of antioxidants than green tea, Yerba Mate prevents many types of cancers, slows signs of aging, and detoxifies the blood. Some of the other benefits one can experience from this tea are an improved metabolism, digestion aid, reduced stress, reduced insomnia, and prevents against heart attack and stroke causing blood clots.