The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Teas
A breakdown of 5 healthy teas and their benefits
Written by Emily Chow, University of Alberta Student in the Nutrition and Food Science program at the University of Alberta and reviewed by our Health Stand Nutrition Dietitian Team.
There is nothing more comforting than winding down the day with a warm cup of tea. Drinking tea has been used for health benefits since ancient times. Whether you’re into floral, earthy or savoury flavours, there is a tea for your preference. This guide will explore some hidden benefits of some healthy teas to drink and may introduce you to try some new ones.
The primary types of teas are categorized into green tea, black tea, white tea, herbal tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea. Here are a few examples of each type of tea:
- Green tea: Sencha, Matcha, Genmaicha
- Black tea: Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Assam
- White tea: Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen), White Peony (Bai mudan), Tribute Eyebrow
- Herbal tea: Chamomile, Peppermint, Rooibos
- Oolong tea: Tie Guan Yin, Phoenix Dan Cong, Lan Gui Ren
- Pu-erh tea: Raw Sheng Pu-erh, Ripe Shou Pu-erh
Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are steamed, pan-fried and dried. Nutty, vegetal, buttery and sweet are some traits to describe the flavour profile. The green tea caffeine level is about average out of all the teas at ~15-30 mg / 8oz.
Green Tea Benefits
The physiological benefits of green tea are mostly due to the polyphenolic compounds; catechins and theaflavins. Scientific studies have shown that these compounds can reduce the risk of certain cancers. These cancers include esophageal, liver and lung cancer. The catechins also have cardiovascular benefits by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol and triglycerides. You may be wondering “is green tea good for diabetes?” Studies have shown that green tea can lower the risk of diabetes substantially especially in women.
Black tea is also extracted from the plant Camellia sinensis. The leaves are fully oxidized before they are heated and dried. Some flavours used to describe black tea include spiced, nutty, earthy and malty. Black tea has the highest average of caffeine levels with ~60-75 mg / 8oz.
Black Tea Benefits
Like green tea, black tea also contains catechins and theaflavins. Black tea has been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer, especially when a citrus peel is added. There have also been reports of it reducing the risk of colon cancer in men and women. Studies have also shown black tea has improved high and low blood pressure, which in turn makes it one of the best tea for heart health.
Oolong tea also begins with the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves are left to wither in the sun and partially oxidized. The leaves are then roasted and dried. Due to the oxidation process, oolong tea taste has a wide range of flavours including floral, woodsy, grassy and vegetal. The caffeine level sits between green and black tea at ~30-50 mg / 8oz.
Oolong Tea Benefits
Oolong tea contains mostly Epigallocatechins, Epigallocatechin gallates and Gallocatechins. Research has shown that it help with high blood glucose and obesity. One study at Osaka University found that oolong tea may increase tooth strength by inhibiting plaque formation.
Chamomile tea is an herbal tea harvested from Chamomile flowers. The flavour profile is described as mellow, floral, soothing and refreshing. It is also naturally caffeine-free.
Chamomile Tea Benefits
The unique properties of Chamomile tea have been known to have sleep-inducing and sedative effects, due to the flavonoid apigenin. One study found that Chamomile tea has been effective in improving depression and sleep issues specifically in postpartum women. There is also evidence that it may reduce anxiety and depression among the general population but more research is required. Additionally, chamomile tea benefits stomach health. This tea has been found to have digestive health benefits, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.
Earl Grey Tea
Earl grey tea is a type of black tea with bergamot oil added, which is extracted from the rind of a bergamot orange. The type and amount of bergamot greatly affect the flavours of the tea. There are a wide variety of ways to make earl grey; as green tea or oolong tea can also be used. The traits of earl grey tea include nutty, tangy, malty and citrusy. Since earl grey can be made from different types of teas, the caffeine levels can vary greatly.
Earl Grey Tea Benefits
Earl grey contains flavonoids with properties that have been linked to aiding inflammatory bowel disease such as crohns disease or colitis, due to the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of the Bergamot extract. One study found that bergamot extract also lowered LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) and plasma lipids.
As the second most popular drink in the world after water, tea has a plethora of benefits for our health. There are an enormous number of different teas around the world. This handy guide can help you select a tea that suits your preferences. Do not hesitate to explore new flavours to discover your new favourite tea!
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