In this cold cold weather, we need some tea…no, we need a lot of tea. I know I do but what do we know about tea? Here is a basic fact- It’s the world’s most popular drink, next to water—and it’s steeped in health benefits.
The value of tea may be due, in part, to its antioxidants. Like fruit and vegetables, tea is rich in antioxidants. (In tea these are known as flavonoids). Antioxidants in the diet may help the body in its management of free radicals – highly reactive substances capable of causing damage to body cells.
If that’s not enough to convince you that tea is worth trying, take a look at some of these fast facts. Green and black teas offer the same health benefits. Many people don’t realize that black and green tea contain virtually the same amount of antioxidants. In fact, whether hot or cold, bottled or using a bag, tea is probably the healthiest drink around.
Drinking four cups of tea is rehydrating – not dehydrating as is often said – unless the amount of tea consumed at one sitting contains more than 250mg of caffeine (the equivalent of five cups of tea).
All tea is produced from a plant called Camellia sinensis. The thousands of different varieties of teas available in the world only vary by the region it was grown, the time of year picked, and the processing method.
Below are a few tips to get the most out of tea-drinking:
- Drinking a cup of tea a few times a day to absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day.
- Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins (a flavanol)
- The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds.
- Tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding lemon or milk or drinking tea between meals will counteract this problem.
- Tea contains fluoride, which has a well-established link to dental health. Studies have shown that tea can provide up to 70% of the fluoride you need. It’s also thought that antioxidants in tea may help inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause plaque.
- Tea without milk and sugar has virtually no calories. And in hot weather, it seems refreshing. This may be because it can raise your body temperature and momentarily cause an increase in perspiration, which cools the skin.
Teas such as Lipton, Kericho Gold are made from tea leaves rich in natural antioxidants, plus other good stuff your body loves. As for the taste, with a range covering hot and cold teas, and green and black varieties, it boosts your taste buds, as well as your well-being.
Let’s look at the five common teas and their health benefits. For those on a weight loss mission, continue reading, there is something for you.
The scoop: Black tea is the most common variety and accounts for about 75 percent of global tea consumption. Like many of the teas here, it’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are typically rolled and fermented, then dried and crushed. Black tea has a slightly bitter flavor and contains the most caffeine—about 40 milligrams per cup. (A cup of coffee has 50 to 100.)
Health benefits: Black tea has high concentrations of the antioxidant compounds known as theaflavins and thearubigins, which have been linked to lower levels of cholesterol. Research has shown that people who drink three or more cups of black tea daily may cut their risk of stroke by 21 percent.
The scoop: Green tea has a more delicate flavour than black. The leaves are dried and heat-treated soon after they’re picked, which stops the fermentation process. It contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
Health benefits: Green tea is full of antioxidants called catechins; a subgroup known as EGCG may ward off everything from cancer to heart disease, says Karen Collins, a registered dietitian and a nutrition adviser at the American Institute for Cancer Research, in Washington, D.C. One study found that each daily cup of green tea consumed may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent.
The scoop: Oolong is similar to black tea, but it’s fermented for a shorter time, which gives it a richer taste. It contains about 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
Health benefits: It may aid in weight loss. “Oolong activates an enzyme responsible for dissolving triglycerides, the form of dietary fat that’s stored in fat cells,” says Baer. One study showed that women who drank oolong tea burned slightly more calories over a two-hour period than those who drank only water.
The scoop: These leaves are picked when they’re very young, so white tea has a much milder flavour than any other variety, not to mention less caffeine—about 15 milligrams per cup. Loose tea may also contain more antioxidants than tea in bags, because the leaves are less processed.
Health benefits: White tea is another health multitasker. It offers the same potential cardiovascular and cancer-fighting benefits as other teas. And some research suggests that it may offer benefits to people with diabetes. An animal study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that consuming white tea resulted in improved glucose tolerance and a reduction in LDL cholesterol. Some experts believe that this may eventually have implications for humans.
The scoop: In this category, aromatic extras, such as cinnamon, orange peel, and lavender, are paired with black, green, or white tea leaves.
Health benefits: Flavoured teas have the same levels of antioxidants and the same health benefits as unflavoured ones. Those flavoured with super fruits, such as blueberries, may contain even more antioxidants. But skip the sweetened varieties in bottles: You’re better off without that extra sugar, says Baer, who also cautions that flavoured tea drinks are often watered down. “Some have such a low amount of antioxidants that you would have to drink 20 bottles to get the amount you would in a single brewed cup,” she says.
The scoop: Technically, herbal teas are not teas at all—they’re usually some combination of dried fruits, flowers, and herbs. Herbal varieties contain no caffeine. Avoid herbal weight-loss teas, which may contain dangerous laxatives.
Health benefits: There has been less research on herbal blends than on traditional teas, but one study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily could help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. And evidence suggests that chamomile tea may promote sleep and that peppermint tea may calm the stomach.
Tea is more than just for drinking…
Tea for Beauty
Don’t toss your morning tea bag, put them in a plastic baggy in the refrigerator and use them:
- On your eyes to relieve puffiness or freshen them up after a late night.
- Those with brunettes dyed hair, use a rinse of black tea for rich dark shine to your hair.
- Those with blonde dyed hair can use a rinse of Chamomile tea to bring out your natural highlights
- After washing your face, uses a cool tea rinse to help with acne. Tea has great astringent properties.
Cooking with Teas
You can use herbal teas for a unique delicious and healthy seasonings.
You can use the tea dry or brew it to liquid form to use as a marinade. The good news about using herbal tea for seasoning, there are no calories or fat and tea is cheaper than most spices that you buy at the store.
Herbal teas are not actually from tea leaves, but are a blend of herbs and spices that create wonderful aromas and colours.
When you use true teas in cooking, they are made from dried tea leaves, and should be brewed and used in liquid form with your recipes.
*more on herbal and flavoured tea soon
So go out there and have a tea filled day and invite me for those tea parties…