Then someone says tea…I think of warmth, relaxation and a sense of well-being. I love tea and I love my tea drawer at home. Peppermint, oolong, white, green, black or earl grey they all have a time and day and all make me feel amazing.
The link between tea and our well-being has been liked back to the Shang dynasty nearly 4000 years ago. Tea was originally used for medicinal purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine for addressing a wide range of health and wellness concerns, especially when formulated in combination with other synergistic herbs. The knowledge of tea then spread throughout Asia, the Mediterranean and the West. These cultures have continued to incorporated it into their own herbal traditions and modern studies have demonstrated a wide-range of well-being benefits. These include the benefits to our emotional, psychological and physical well being. We drink tea when we feel down/sad (emotional); when we need to calm down/reduce anxiety (psychological) and when we are not feeling well/ill (physical).
Now, let me start by saying that the tea I am talking about here are your more pure teas such as black, green, oolong, white etc. I am not talking about the fruity, vanilla or chocolate flavoured ones that are on our supermarket shelves (although they are yummy)!
All these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which have an affect on the brain. These impacts have been linked to enlighten mood and heightened mental alertness.
The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols in tea include catechins, theaflavins, tannins, and flavonoids. These are a lot of large ingredietns – and the only one we are concerned within this blog are the flavonoids. In short, flavonoids are a natural part of the tea-plan and display antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiallergic properties.
Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea but their anti-oxidizing power is still high. Once we get into the flavoured/mixed teas, the saturation level of polyphenols declines making them a tea to drink for flavour; rather than health benefits.
Let’s break our common teas down into their main groups; Green, Black, White, Oolong and Pu-erh Tea. Drinking tea is not a replacement for medical intervention when needed; so if you do require medical attention please turn to your GP rather than your tea drawer.
- Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG (an element of polyphenols in tea; and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidant properties have been link to preventing arterial clotting, fat burning, counteract oxidative stress in the brain and improve cholesterol levels.
- Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may improve gut health, reduce blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels.
- White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
- Oolong tea: Is a less studied tea; however is suggested of health benefits including lowering bad cholesterol levels; it may boost your metabolism, decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. Some recent studies suggest, Pu-erh tea may help relieve symptoms of metabolic syndrome. It’s been shown to lower blood sugar, reduce obesity, and boost immunity.
Wellness Teas are Not Ordinary Teas
Wellness teas differ dramatically from ordinary teas in that they are purposefully designed to optimize and support the health of the human body. Wellness teas can help to support cleansing, detoxification and weight management programs. They can help to soothe and comfort the digestive system, support immune health, promote peace of mind, support beautiful glowing skin, and can also be used to energize body and mind.
Harvard Medical School has written, “One important warning: A cup of tea contains only a couple calories. Processed, sugar-sweetened tea beverages are loaded with extra calories”.
Now we have talked about the types of tea; let’s talk about some other wellness benefits to tea on our overall / general health:
- Tea can boost exercise endurance. Scientists have found that the antioxidants in green tea extract increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which accounts for improved muscle endurance.
- Tea helps fight free radicals. Tea is high in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (“ORAC” to its friends), which is a fancy way of saying that it helps destroy free radicals (which can damage DNA) in the body. While our bodies are designed to fight free radicals on their own, they’re not 100 percent effective — and since damage from these radical oxygen ninjas has been linked to cancer, heart disease and neurological degeneration, we’ll take all the help we can get.
- Tea is hydrating to the body (even despite the caffeine)!
- Tea could keep waist circumference in check. In one study, participants who regularly consumed hot tea had lower waist circumference and lower BMI than non-consuming participants. Scientists speculate that regular tea drinking lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome (which increases the risk of diabetes, artery disease and stroke), although it’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation.
- Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.
Now you have all the fun – facts about Tea (and some of the many reasons why I love tea) I hope you find a few cups of joy in the warmth of an oolong or black tea! Our next blog will be about loose leaf tea vs pre-made (store bought) bagged tea.