In the United States, coffee is the caffeinated beverage that gets all of the attention. While coffee consumption does have numerous health benefits, moderate tea consumption can also be very beneficial to your health and wellbeing. Described below are health benefits associated with different types of popular teas.
White tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant of China and India. Although many types of tea come from this plant, white tea is the least processed of these varieties. White tea also has less caffeine than many other tea varieties, making it an ideal choice for people with low caffeine tolerance. The primary health benefit of white tea is its high antioxidant levels. One research study showed that this may give white tea greater anticancer properties compared to other teas that have been processed more. Additionally, higher levels of tannins, fluoride, and catechins in white tea are helpful for strengthening and protecting dental health.
While more processed than white tea, green tea leaves are relatively unprocessed compared to other teas because the leaves are not fermented. Green tea is made by steaming the tea leaves before brewing. The greatest benefits of green tea come from its high levels of antioxidants, particularly catechins. Catechins are known to be beneficial in fighting cell damage. A 2013 review of various studies found that green tea is beneficial in preventing many heart issues, including high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Additionally, green tea is thought to be beneficial in improving cognitive function and reducing risk of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
While black tea comes from the same plant as white and green tea, it is processed by oxidation, or exposing to leaves to moist air, until the leaves are fully fermented and turn from green to black. Benefits of drinking black tea include increased alertness, antioxidants, heart health, improved metabolism, and gut health. Additionally, there is some evidence that shows that regular black tea consumption can reduce risk of certain diseases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney stones, Parkinson’s disease, and osteoporosis.
Herbal tea is considerably different than the other tea varieties discussed, as it is not made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Instead, herbal tea is made by steeping herbs, fruits, seeds or roots in hot water. This causes herbal teas to have significantly less antioxidants than green, white and black teas. The health benefits of herbal teas vary widely depending on what ingredients were used to brew them. Chamomile tea is thought to reduce risk of diabetes, vision loss, nerve damage, and kidney damage. Echinacea tea is promoted as a way to fight the common cold, but research into a link has thus far been inconclusive. A study found that hibiscus tea is effective at lowering blood pressure in people with elevated levels. Finally, rooibos tea, or red tea, is said to have some cancer-fighting properties, but studies have been limited.
When drinking any type of tea with caffeine, remember not to overdo it. Total intake of caffeine should not exceed 400 milligrams in one day. Consult a doctor before drinking tea if you have any condition that may be exacerbated by caffeine consumption.