The Health Benefits of Tea

Filed under Health Live Well on Mar 09 12 by

With its typically lower caffeine levels and high antioxidant content, tea has often been called a healthier alternative to coffee. With so many different kinds of tea, it can be hard to determine what’s what, and exactly why tea is such a great choice. To save you time, we’ve done the homework for you! Read on to learn more about tea, and discover some of the most refreshing teas to try.

Mate and white tea from Teavana

My favorite blend of mate and white tea from Teavana

How tea is made

Green, white, black and oolong teas are all made from the leaves of the camellia sinesis plant. These teas are still distinct from each other because they are all processed differently. White tea is not fermented, which makes it the lightest tea, which black tea is fermented the most, which gives it the most intense flavor.

Some “teas” are not tea at all! Red tea is made from the fermented leaves of the aspalathis linearis plant. Chai tea is actually spices and milk combined with tea. Mate is a drink made by drying the leaves of the yerba mate plant and steeping them in hot water.

The “tea” table

The chart below will help you learn about seven popular teas and their health benefits.

Tea Flavor Pairs well with Health Benefits Caffeine*
Green Medium-strength, “grassy” flavor Mint, lemongrass, and peach - Lowers the risk of heart disease and certain cancers
- May play a role in preventing Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease
- Regular consumption may boost the body’s metabolic rate
25mg
White Mild Fruity flavors such as pear, peach, and mango - May aid in slowing viruses and bacterial growth
- Said to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease
15mg
Black Strong Vanilla, orange, or cinnamon. - Reduces the occurrence of cardiovascular disease by preventing clogged arteries
- Fights viruses, inflammation, and cancer growth
40mg
Oolong Range from floral and fruity to dark and spicy Vanilla, almond, peach, and grapefruit - Shown to improve the condition of skin, teeth, and bones
- Offers protection against cancer and has been used to help treat diabetes
- Drinking oolong tea has also been shown to reduce stress
30mg
Red (rooibos) Strong but sweet taste Berries, pomegranate, and passion fruit - Can help treat insomnia if consumed before bedtime, and has also been used to treat tension and mild depression
- Supports a healthy nervous system
- Regular consumption may boost the body’s metabolic rate
0mg
Chai Varies depending on the recipe, but it is typically spicy and flavorful Usually contains ginger, cinnamon, cloves and black, green or oolong tea. - Has been used as a digestive aid and an anti-inflammatory
- Contains the health benefits of whatever tea was used to make the chai
Caffeine content depends on the tea used in preparation
Mate Similar to green tea, with hints of tobacco and oak Citrus, mint, chocolate, and hazelnut - May help to increase good cholesterol levels in the body while lowering bad cholesterol levels
- Has a slightly higher antioxidant level than green tea, and possibly has some cancer-fighting abilities
38mg
*8 oz serving (Note: For comparison, an 8 oz. serving of coffee normally contains 115mg of caffeine per serving)

 

Tea tasting

As a devout coffee drinker, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of replacing a few coffee drinks per week with tea. But once I discovered how much more variety tea can bring, (there are so many flavors to choose from!) I decided it wasn’t such a bad idea. Here are some of my favorite teas to try:

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Lauren D'Alessandro
As the founder of The You Are Project’s print magazine and blog, Lauren is passionate about developing publications that inspire creativity and action. Lauren is the Editor-in-Chief of You Are REAL and the creator and manager of our website. Her dream is to continue using writing and publications as tools for communicating God’s love to the world. Keep up with her latest endeavors at laurendalessandro.com.