“Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.” So goes a Chinese proverb that modern science is proving to be true. Hot, iced, green, black, chai, jasmine: It’s tea time around the world. Roughly 2 billion people worldwide drink tea every day, and for good reason. Next to water, tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. Furthermore, the type of tea you choose can be tailored to the tea benefits you’re aiming for. Let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of tea.
Which Tea Benefits You Most?
Each type of tea has different healthful properties. Check out the tea benefits below to see which one may help you the most.
Green Tea. Known for its therapeutic polyphenols, which have proven protective against cancer, heart disease, and even cavities, this health-enhancing tea was shown in lab tests to block the HIV virus from attaching to healthy immune system cells. This is just one remarkable example of how green tea benefits our health.
Black Tea. Black tea accounts for nearly 80 percent of all tea consumption worldwide, and here in the US, a whopping 90 percent of the tea we drink is black. Not a bad choice, considering this type of tea has been shown to reduce risk of skin cancer, lower LDL cholesterol, and protect against heart attack and cardiovascular disease.
White Tea. Less well known than its black and green counterparts, white tea boasts its own health benefits—along with a sweeter, milder taste. Because it is processed from younger buds and leaves, white tea contains lower levels of caffeine. Even more important, when green, black, white, and oolong teas were tested for their ability to hinder pre-cancerous mutations in cells, white tea came out on top.
Oolong Tea. Because this fruity and fragrant tea is partially fermented, it combines the health boons of both fully fermented black and unfermented green teas. Oolong has been found to be protective against cardiovascular concerns, a catalyst for revving up metabolism and fat loss, and a great immune system booster.
Ginger Tea. Best known for its anti-nausea effects, ginger tea benefits other gastrointestinal issues as well. Taken before meals, it can improve digestion. And consumed after meals, ginger tea helps alleviate bloating and stomach pain.
Peppermint Tea. Another tea renowned for its ability to ease digestive woes, peppermint tea is also helpful for reducing fevers, opening respiratory passages, and even taming bad breath.
Chamomile Tea. Relaxation is the chamomile tea benefit that most people think of first. However, a cup of antioxidant-rich chamomile tea can also ward off anxiety and depression, aid in digestion, fight inflammation, and improve oral health.
Top 7 Health Benefits of Tea
Regardless of which type of tea you choose, all teas benefit multiple aspects of health. Here are 7 tea benefits you may or may not be aware of.
1. Tea is chock-full of antioxidants, beneficial compounds that scavenge free radicals.
2. Tea leaves contain unique compounds called polysaccharides, which inhibit an enzyme that converts starches into glucose. Suppressing this enzyme slows the absorption of glucose and thus helps lower blood sugar.
3. The caffeine and polyphenols in tea are thermogenic agents, meaning they help boost weight loss by revving up the rate at which your body burns fat.
4. Several types of tea contain caffeine and theanine, two ingredients proven to improve mental focus and increase alertness.
5. Tea leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, folic acid, a handful of B vitamins, along with manganese, potassium, and fluoride are all naturally occurring compounds in tea.
6. Green tea has been shown in clinical studies to lower cholesterol, likely by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the large intestine. Benefits were noted with five cups per day (minimum).
7. Tea aids in proper hydration. You read that right. The myth that caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee dehydrate you has been debunked. Go ahead and count those cups of tea toward your daily fluid intake.
A Note on Caffeine Content
The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea can vary widely based on where a tea was grown, how it was processed and prepared, and what brand it is. The following chart lists averages found in an 8-ounce cup. For reference, the same amount of coffee will give you 150-200 mg of caffeine. (Source: choiceorganicteas.com.)
BLACK TEA–60 to 90 mg
OOLONG TEA–50 to 75 mg
GREEN TEA–35 to 70 mg
WHITE TEA–30 to 55 mg
DECAF TEA–2 to 4 mg
YERBA MATÉ–40 mg
OTHER HERBAL TEAS–0 mg
Reap Teas Benefits…With These Recipes
Although the following recipes call for green tea, any type of tea would work. This just goes to show you don’t need to drink it to enjoy the health benefits of tea.
Green Tea Chicken Noodle Soup
8 ounces boneless, skinless cooked chicken pieces cut into ½-inch squares
½-cup brewed green tea
5 ounces dry bean thread noodles (found in Asian markets and some grocery stores)
4 cups chicken stock
2 (½ inch-thick) lightly mashed ginger roots
½-cup cubed mushrooms
3 cups packed spinach leaves
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves or cilantro
Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the green tea. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour to marinate.
Cover the bean thread noodles with warm water. Soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain.
In a big pot, bring the stock, ginger, and mushrooms to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chicken, including the tea marinade, and noodles. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the spinach and boil for 2 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowl and garnish with mint leaves or cilantro.
Green Tea Shrimp With Mixed Greens
2 tablespoons loose green tea
1 cup water
12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, uncooked
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Infuse tea in water for 20 minutes.
Pour tea into skillet and heat over low heat. Poach shrimp in tea for 3-5 minutes, until shrimp turn pink, then drain.
Wash and dry greens and arrange on platter. Scatter shrimp over greens and garnish with lemon and chives. Serve with a vinaigrette dressing.
Green Tea Marinated Cucumbers
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
½-cup brewed green tea
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon shredded, dried seaweed
3 small cucumbers, sliced into chunks
Whisk together sauce ingredients, and toss with cucumbers. Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours before serving.