18. May 2010 23:51
Whether you’re an avid tea drinker with a cup board filled with exotic smells which fill the air each time you swing open the door, or you just enjoy the occasional cup of tea. It’s important that you understand the health benefits that certain teas can provide.
The big misconception is that tea often is viewed as just another beverage. However this is far from the truth, throughout the ages tea has been used as both a direct and preventative medicine.
Now we have study after study coming out all proclaiming a new health benefit of tea, but which tea’s are the healthiest? We will study the teas group by group so you understand the implications and benefits of all the different varieties.
White, Black, Green & Oolong - Camellia Sinensis
The first group of teas are clumped together because they are all found off of the same tree - Camellia Sinensis. The great thing about all these teas is that they are loaded with antioxidant polyphenols.
What do antioxidants do? Well, antioxidants basically help your body eliminate unwanted bacteria and chemicals which it cannot process on it’s own.
Some of the cited benefits of having enough antioxidants? Less heart attacks, lower cancer rates, longer living and the list goes on.
Keep in mind, that all these teas have an antioxidant count so high that they will match or beat most plants on the ORAC scale, a test which measures the antioxidant potential within plants and fruits.
Since they all come from the same tree, the only actual difference between these teas is when they are picked. To achieve the different colors, tastes and variants of tea. They are all harvested at different times throughout the year, but all with basically the same benefits.
Herbal Teas - Are They Any Good?
The first thing you’ve got to know about herbal teas is that most do NOT contain any health benefits. This is because they are usually an infusion of plants, berries and leaves put together to achieve a particular flavor or brew, but not provide health benefits.
Because most herbal teas substitute the Camellia plant with Tisane (a homogenous root to Africa) they do not contain antioxidants to the same extent. However other benefits such as relaxation have been cited. Further research is still required before we can completely discredit or confirm the health benefits of herbal teas.
Caffeinated Vs. Decaffeinated - The Choice?
A lot of people get antsy about the amount of caffeine they consume and worry about going over the limit. You can rest easy knowing the caffeine count in most teas is about half that you’d get from the same size cup of coffee.
However for those of you who prefer to drink decaf tea keep this in mind. So far it’s uncertain whether the de-caffeination process removes the beneficial antioxidants or keeps them untouched.
So our advice to you?
If you’re looking for tea with health benefits make sure that you pick a variety which originates from the Camellia plant.
Also to receive the full benefits brew your tea for 3-5 minutes allowing the water to absorb up the plant matter, antioxidants and taste.
It’s important you brew your tea properly otherwise you won’t receive the health benefits. Ideally you should be drinking anywhere from 3-6 cups spread out throughout your day.
Always remember to know what you’re drinking but most importantly enjoy what you’re drinking. Enjoy your tea and take care!