In the city of Vancouver alone, the number of places where you can sit and have a cup of tea must be in the hundreds. Within a couple of blocks downtown, you will encounter more than one shop with its choice of teas, such as Starbucks, Blenz, and Waves, just to name a few. If you aren’t looking to hold a hot cup of tea in your hand, you can also visit a store, such as David’s Tea, to purchase looseleaf teas as a gift. With over 3,000 varieties of tea, it shouldn’t be too surprising that it is the most consumed beverage in the world second to water.
Tea can be divided into four basic categories: black, oolong, green, and white. These are classified according to processing, growing conditions, and geography. Some people drink tea for a caffeine kick, while others drink it for its calming effects and its multitude of health benefits. I like having all four types of tea, but the one I choose depends on the benefits and taste that I’m in the mood for.
Black tea, contrary to its name, isn’t black, but is stronger in flavour than the other teas and has the highest caffeine content. This tea is one of the most popular types in the world, particularly in Europe and North America. Boiling this type of tea at high temperatures will release polyphenols – antioxidants – and might help in the prevention of cancers such as prostate and ovarian cancer. There are studies that drinking black tea can reduce the risk of stroke, prevent type 2 diabetes, and help improve gut health. The tannins are beneficial for a healthy digestive tract. They also strengthen the immune system. Another ingredient in black tea, L-theanine, has calming qualities that help you to relax and concentrate better. To maximize the benefit of antioxidants, it is recommended to avoid adding milk or sugar.
Together with black tea, green tea is one of the most popular types of tea in the world, especially in Eastern Hemisphere countries such as China and Japan. This tea is loaded with antioxidants, which prevent free radicals from causing damage through aging and diseases. It has a history of medicinal uses in Asia because of its fermentation process, which allows it to retain much of its antioxidants. One type of antioxidant, EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), gives green tea its medicinal properties. It contains caffeine and L-theanine, which improve brain function and give a mild alertness buzz. By increasing metabolic rate, it also helps to burn fat. Green tea can also help to reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Green tea can also help protect against neurodegenerative diseases, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The catechins in green tea can kill bacteria and reduce risk of infection. Further, there are studies that applying green tea leaves topically can reduce the effects of sun damage because of its anti-inflammatory qualities.
Having the combined qualities of black and green tea, oolong tea offers the health benefits of both. The polyphenol compound in oolong tea may help with weight management by preventing enzymes from building fat. It also helps in the fight against free radicals, resulting in controlling diabetes, strengthening bones, and reducing cancer risk. It also promotes healthy skin, benefiting those with skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis by suppressing allergic reactions. The anti-oxidants slow the aging process and help with reducing hair loss if you make a tea rinse from the leaves.
Like the other tea varieties, white tea contains antioxidants, but in comparison, it has several times as many antioxidants as green and black tea. The level of tannins and theaflavins (TFs) in comparison are lower in this type of tea. The TFs give the tea its sweeter flavour. White tea is less processed than the others, but provides similar benefits. It can reduce the risk of premature aging, as well as repair against skin damage from ultraviolet light. The anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce skin conditions such as eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, and wounds. It may be helpful in preventing some types of cancer, such as lung cancer and prostate cancer. Flavonoids found in the tea help to decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also has antibacterial properties which make it a useful remedy for the flu and common cold.
Health benefits and cautions
Tea can be served hot or cold, no matter what the season. You can enjoy a cup of hot tea by the fire during a winter night. Or sip a glass of ice tea on a sizzling summer afternoon. The many benefits of tea make it a strong beverage choice. However, there are also a few cautions to heed when having this drink.
Teas contain antioxidants, which are beneficial for your health, but the flavonoids can prevent you from absorbing the iron found in plant foods. For this reason, tea should be drunk between meals to reap its benefits and avoid some of the disadvantages.
Some people choose tea for the caffeine boost that is 50 percent less than that of coffee. Caffeine can give some people the jitters, which increases nervousness. One drink that I have instead of tea is Rev3 Energy because it has long-lasting energy, containing the caffeine from green and white tea, but low-glycemic. Tea is low in calories, unless you mix a lot of sugar in with your drink.
Studies are still being conducted to verify or dispute the many health benefits of tea. Overall, many experts agree that the antioxidative properties in tea are a boost to our health. For this reason, you will continue to find me and so many others sipping a cup of tea at different times of the year.