Tea Time

For many of us, tea implies the regular black tea or iced tea, but there are other lesser known tea varieties simply brimming with health benefits, specifically green tea, white tea and red tea.  These varieties of tea have preventive and curative properties, due to the presence of antioxidants. According to Gloria Tsang, RD of HealthCastle.com, “Tea ranks as high as or higher than many fruits and vegetables in the ORAC score, a score that measures the antioxidant potential of plant-based foods”.

Each kind of tea has a unique aroma and flavor as well as special benefits. The latter depends on the method of processing and contents. Black tea undergoes a process of fermentation, which distinguishes it from the other teas.

Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea contains medicinal properties because it is made from fresh and unfermented dried leaves as fermentation destroys antioxidants and other nutrients. Antioxidants are chemical substances that neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals that damage cells. They are thus effective in controlling cell damage and degenerative conditions including cancer and mental decline. Green tea is very rich in antioxidants that are more powerful than antioxidant vitamins E and C. According to teabenefits.com, the antioxidant “EGCG in green tea has exceptional anti-inflammatory and immune strengthening properties.” Therefore, green tea provides a number of health benefits, including cardiovascular health, prevention of cancer and arthritis, alleviation of blood sugar and weight control. Green tea is energizing, though it is low in caffeine, so even three or four cups in the day does not cause adverse effects. Green tea should be taken without milk. It is no wonder then that in her book, Green Tea: The Natural Secret for a Healthier Life, Nadine Taylor states that, “green tea has been used as a medicine in China for at least 4,000 years.”

Benefits of White Tea

White tea, like green tea, is not fermented but rather it is left to dry in the shade. Despite its name, it is not white, but pale green. The dried leaves also include young tea leaves and buds, which gives it an exceptional aroma and delicate flavor. To experience this to the fullest, white tea should be consumed without milk or sweetening. There is also considerably less caffeine in white tea than all the other varieties (15 mg per serving, compared to 40 mg for black tea, and 20 mg for green). Some studies have also shown that white tea contains more active cancer-fighting antioxidants than green tea. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals which deters skin damage and aging as well as lowering blood pressure and raising levels of “good” cholesterol. White tea has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

Benefits of Red Tea

Like white tea, red or Rooibos tea is lesser known than green tea, but has a number of health benefits. Brewed from the leaves of a natural herb, it is unique to the Cedarberg mountains of South Africa, and is rich in the antioxidant Aspalathin. Aspalathin reduces the risk of skin cancer by 60% and free radical damage by 90%. It has no caffeine or oxalic acid and very few tannins. It is refreshing, with a natural sweetness. Red tea has been effective in alleviating conditions like insomnia, headaches and panic attacks. According to teabenefits.com, Rooibos tea is an all day drink, working as an energizer, a thirst quencher during the day and a relaxant at night to induce relaxation and sound sleep.

There are also a number of herbal teas available which is an infusion of a number of herbs, plants and spices. Herbal teas are typically functional in nature and can cover an array of health concerns from insomnia to digestive issues. Herbal teas are often consumed for their physical or medicinal effects, especially for their stimulant, relaxant or sedative properties.

Do you like your tea sweetened? If so, please avoid sugar! For all of the health benefits discussed in this article, adding a tsp. or more of sugar to your tea-cup will simply negate all of it. Instead, I suggest using Stevia, which is a herb that offers an intense sweetness to foods.  I use Stevia in my coffee and tea…a couple drops goes a long way, too, so a single bottle can last for quite a while.  

So, instead of grabbing that soda filled with high fructose corn syrup and chemicals, steep a nice cup of green, white, red or herbal tea and nourish your body from the inside out!

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