Before you read this article, go make yourself a cup of hot tea. You’ll be joining over 158 million other Americans who drink tea, hot or cold, on any given day. It is one of the healthiest beverages people have consumed for the past 5,000 years and is second only to water as the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Tea is an all-natural, environmentally sound product coming from a renewable source and tea manufacturers often use recycled paper for packaging.
Tea is naturally sodium, fat, calorie and sugar free. Tea contributes to good health in many ways – it helps maintain proper fluid balance in the body, it contains flavonoids that neutralize free radicals along with other antioxidant properties that appear to be good for heart health and reduce risk of cancer.
Hot tea does have some advantages over drinking cold tea. When tea is steeped, the hot water permeates into the tea leaves drawing out the flavonoids found in the leaves which contain powerful antioxidants. If you allow the tea to cool down, it loses some of that antioxidant content whereas drinking hot tea allows for maximum antioxidant effect. In addition, hot tea has a stronger aroma and flavor than cold tea.
Take time each day to have a cup or two of hot tea. It’s an excellent healthy alternative to other beverage choices such as sugary juice or soft drinks.
Listed below are several varieties of tea each with their own unique health properties to try out:
· Green Tea – Made from unfermented leaves, green tea contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that fight free radicals damaging DNA and changing cells. In traditional Chinese medicine, green tea has been used as a stimulant, a diuretic to get rid of excess fluid in the body, and to improve heart health. A phytonutrient green tea contains is EGCG making it very effective at fighting cancers by inhibiting growth of cancer cells. It may also help prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. An 8 ounce cup contains 24-45 mg of caffeine.
· Black Tea – This tea is made from aged leaves and stems whereas green tea is made from fresh leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant. One 8 ounce cup provides anywhere from 14-70 mg of caffeine thus possibly affecting mental alertness and thinking. Black tea also contains powerful polyphenols helping to prevent tooth decay and kidney stones. The antioxidants in black tea prevent plaque from building up on the teeth leading to an added bonus of fresher breath.
· White Tea – Compared to green and black teas, white tea is the least processed and has the highest antioxidant levels. It has one of the lowest caffeine content at 15-20 mg per 8 ounce cup. The impressive antioxidant content of white tea performs various health functions ranging from preventing growth of cancer cells, lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, improving bone density, naturally kills off bacteria and viruses, prevents tooth decay and promotes healthy, radiant skin. It has a flavor ranging from delicate to robust.
· Oolong Tea – This tea was used widely in China 400 years ago. It is a fermented tea that has combined qualities between green and black teas. One of the more common features of oolong tea is it being touted as aiding in weight loss. It contains a polyphenol that is effective in controlling metabolism of fat by activating certain enzymes that boost the functions of fat cells in the body. However, more studies need to be conducted before that can be determined. Oolong tea appears to possibly help reduce eczema, protects teeth from decay, strengthens bones, regulates blood sugar and insulin and may reduce cancer risk. Drinking 8 ounces of oolong tea will provide 30 mg of caffeine.
· Peppermint Tea – If you’re looking for a clean, fresh, invigorating taste from a tea, peppermint tea may just be your choice. This is an herbal tea sometimes called mint tea. Peppermint tea is caffeine free making it a relaxing tea to try before bedtime without disrupting sleep. Health benefits it provides include helping to reduce a fever as it contains menthol which can cause sweating to break the fever, can reduce chances of nausea and vomiting, can relieve coughing, bad breath, stress, and helps reduce the pain of cramps, bloating and indigestion.
· Chamomile Tea – This caffeine-free tea is an herb coming from a flowering plant from the daisy family. For centuries, both the fresh and dried flowers of chamomile have been used to make tea to treat different health conditions. It contains an essential oil called bisabolol, having anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Are you allergic to ragweed, pollen or hay fever? Chamomile tea may not be for you as it may cause severe symptoms and it can also interfere with blood thinners. Its health benefits include treating insomnia, anxiety, stomach cramps, migraine headaches, and reducing excess gas and bloating in the intestines associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
There are many other varieties of tea to try out – have fun discovering which ones you like best and in the process obtain the many health benefits each provides.