Is tea really that healthy for you?
Winter is officially upon us, at least here in McKinney, TX, where wind and snow has lost its way and ended up right here in our front yard. Weather such as this is not normal for the Dallas area and it quite literally shuts the county down.
This time of year, all over the country is prime time for cold and flu season and COVID-19 is still a force to be reckoned with. Now, with the bone chilling cold and viruses a float, it is the perfect time of year to warm up and fortify your defenses.
Tea is the perfect beverage for lifting your cold spirit, boosting your immune system and improving your overall health.
Fact or Fable?
Tea drinking has been known for being a health-promoting activity since, well, forever. The question is, does the science back up the narrative surrounding the most ubiquitously consumed beverage next to water. Well, in fact, the evidence in support of the ancient belief grows stronger with each new study.
The studies not only validate tea’s positive impact on the immune system and its ability to fight off inflammation, but there is also encouraging data demonstrating tea’s preventative power against heart disease and even cancer.
The studies show that drinking tea as part of a regular diet can have long lasting effects on improved health.
Is all tea healthy for you?
Tea comes in so many different varieties and it is prepared in many different ways. How can you know which tea is right for you? We are going to break down the health benefits of each individual tea type, but before we do that lets talk about what makes a tea, not so healthy, or even something to be avoided.
Tea lattes, especially those found at your local tea spot, are more often than not filled superfluously with unhealthy sugar. Popular bubble teas and other calorie intense, carb filled teas can also be included in this category. While these teas can be tempting and may be touted as being healthy, the sugar negates any health benefit that might have been gained.
Sometimes tea, especially green, has been marketed as a calorie burner and these fad diet teas can have hidden ingredients such as laxatives. These ingredients can actually have harmful effects on your health and should also be avoided.
Tea when consumed pure and unadulterated or with little to no alteration is the healthiest tea for your diet.
It is also important to note that tea, especially the variety known as herbal tea, can have things other than tea in it. It is important to know what types of foods including herbs your body may be allergic to. Even slight allergic reactions can have the opposite effect than intended.
Black tea, along with green tea, white tea and oolong tea, comes from the camellia sinensis plant. Each varies in how it is processed, however, black tea leaves are dried and fully oxidized which gives the tea its darker color and stronger flavor.
Antioxidants can be found in black teas and they help mitigate the presence of free radicals in the body decreasing cell damage. Black tea has groups of polyphenols such as catechins, theaflavins, flavonoids and thearubigins which promote overall health within your body.
The groups of polyphenols found in black tea promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut which leads to a healthier immune system. Flavonoids, in particular, have a positive effects on overall heart health.
Once the tea leaves are picked they are heated by either, pan-firing, roasting or steaming. This heating process stops the oxidation resulting in a tea that is light, sweet and earthy.
The health benefits of green tea are similar to those of black. Polyphenols also abound, specifically a polyphenol catechin called epigallocatechin-3-galllate (EGCG). It just happens to be one of the most powerful compounds in green tea. It helps reduce inflammation and it protects our cells from disease, aging and damage.
Other studies indicate that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. However, more research is required on this topic to validate these claims.
For a more power packed punch of nutrients, try matcha. Matcha is a Japanese green tea in powdered form where the tea leaves are traditionally stone ground and then whisked into a froth. Matcha can contain roughly 10 times the nutrients of green tea because the entire leaf is consumed.
If you’re looking for the middle ground between fully oxidized (black tea) and little to no oxidation (green tea), than oolong tea is your cup. Its flavor profile spans the spectrum.
Since oolong tea comes from the same plant and can be anywhere on the spectrum between black and green tea, it will have many of the same health benefits to varying degrees.
L-theanine, is an amino acid that can be found in all tea including oolong. This amino acid is known for helping people relax. Research shows that l-theanine can increase focus and reduce stress and anxiety without the subsequent drowsiness. Studies also indicate that l-theanine can improve the bodies immune system.
In tea that has higher concentrations of caffeine, l-theanine helps create balance resulting in focussed energy without the jittery anxiety. In less caffeinated tea, the l-theanine just helps you relax.
The least processed tea of the camellia sinensis plant is white tea. And, it has the least amount of caffeine as well. White tea also has the highest level of antioxidants compared to the others, which we already know help fight off free radicals, protecting against aging and cell damage.
The most popular teas get all the love in terms of research. Studies surrounding white tea are limited, but many similarities exists between all teas from the camellia sinensis plant.
We say, drink what you like. If you love white tea for its flavor profile and low caffeine, well then, you do you.
Yerba mate is a small South American tree from the holly family whose leaves are either picked then dried for a traditional green yerba mate or they are roasted for a darker and smoother option.
The antioxidants found in yerba mate actually seems to be slightly higher than green tea. It also contains seven out of the nine essential amino acids which are a building block for protein.
Along with containing pretty much every vitamin and mineral your body requires for good health and health promoting polyphenols, yerba mate also contain caffeoyl derivatives, which is where yerba mate gets its antioxidant power from, Saponins which are compounds that can reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol, and xanthines which act as stimulants.
The array of herbal teas is vast and the health benefits of each can be widely different. Herbal teas are pretty much any tea that doesn’t originate from the camellia sinensis plant and , for the most part, are known for containing zero caffeine which makes them a relaxing and calming choice.
Here are a list of some of our most popular herbal choices and their associated health benefits.
Rooibos: Free of tannins, caffeine and oxalic acid. Pack with antioxidants, but whose increases are short-lived or absorbed inefficiently. It is the only known natural source of aspalathin which has been known for its antidiabetic properties.
Hibiscus: Comes from the protective layer that cover the bud of the hibiscus flower. May improve heart health and lower high blood pressure. Packed with vitamin-C, which is known for boosting the metabolism and immune system.
Honeybush: A cousin of Rooibos, its a caffeine free option also high in antioxidants and minerals.
Chamomile: A relaxing and soothing tea known for aiding muscle spasms and even menstrual pain. May improve sleep and reduces stress levels.
Lets just say that in a sea of drinking options, you can’t do much better than tea. With countless studies on the health benefits of tea and the delicious options available (I may be biased), drinking tea seems to be a no-brainer.
The question is, which tea will you choose and how will you choose to enjoy it?
~ To shop our vast variety of tea option visit fusionteas.com