Tea is commonly appreciated for being a healthier alternative to many other beverages that put a skip in your walk bright and early in the morning, and for many good reasons. It is a gentle stimulant that is often very calming, and tea is also full of antioxidants, but as you already know, the unhealthy effects that a ‘healthy’ food can have on the body can quickly make the better option just as bad as the original choices you skipped over.
What is Tea?
First and foremost, you need to know what tea is. Technically speaking, the word ‘tea’ actually refers to the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant which is brewed in a variety of different ways to make tea. The color of the tea is determined by how much it has been oxidized. This is sometimes called fermentation, despite it having no bacteria involved in the process. Also, the tea being oxidized is not a negative element, as it simply explains the cooking and does not change the impressive antioxidant benefits that tea has.
The Colors of Tea
With so many varieties of tea, you can find the most popular ones listed below, from mildest to boldest.
White tea is the tea that is the most natural as it has been minimally processed. Some are steamed to prevent oxidation and many others do the opposite and allow the leaves to oxidize naturally. This kind of tea has subtle flavor.
Green tea is a bit more processed, and the leaves have been dried, rolled, and then heated instead of being oxidized. It has a grassy taste but is rather subtle as well.
Oolong tea is a healthy options that seems to be growing in popularity. It is partially oxidized.
Black tea is the fairly ‘processed’ in comparison to the other teas, as the leaves are withered, rolled or crushed. Then, they are oxidized for a fair amount of time. This is how the ‘black’ appearance forms.
There are many other kinds of teas, but as mentioned, these are some of the most popular varieties.
Now for the important stuff – the benefits. Tea was traditional used as a form of herbal medicine before the antioxidants were made a thing. In order to properly determine the health benefits of a specific cup of tea, you need to not only consider the leaves used but also the actual brewing of them. However, the majority of teas are said to benefit blood lipids and blood pressure – black and green tea being the better ones for this. Green tea extracts are believed to have metabolism boosting elements which makes it a favorite for losing weight. Many forms of cancer are also believed to be prevented when a cup of tea a day, which is also believed to protect you against Alzheimer’s Disease, help depression and treat gingivitis. In addition to all of that, you then have the benefits of the antioxidants which are packed in this warm beverage. In fact, antioxidants are responsible for making this beverage so healthy, but you can’t forget about the mineral content, although rather small. Tea does contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus and a slight dose of caffeine which is believed to play its part in enhancing your health.
What Tea is the Best?
It would be impossible to determine which tea is ‘best’ for you as it depends on many things, including your personal preference and caffeine tolerance. It is also important to remember that the benefits of tea also come with a touch of negativity. For example, tea is believed to contain toxic heavy metals such as lead and fluoride. The majority of tea is grown in China where coal-burning power plants fill the air and soil. Although this is true, the impact these factors have on your health is believed to be minimal which is why it’s very rarely discussed. However, that doesn’t mean that you should consider the harmful possibilities of a cup of tea.
Long story short, tea is a healthier alternative but you must pay attention to the way it reacts with your body specifically. While there are some fluoride and heavy metal contamination and possible poisoning from the power plants, it isn’t believed that these should be stressed about and the benefits are said to far exceed any negativity. So, yes – drink a cup of tea, as long as it makes you feel great and you enjoy the taste. Water is by far the best beverage that you could have, so don’t force yourself to drink a cup of green tea every day simply because it is said to have amazing benefits to your health. If you don’t enjoy the taste, you can certainly reap the exact same benefits from other forms of food and drink that you won’t have to plug your nose with every bite or sip.
Tea is a healthier option, but it isn’t a magical as many people believe it to be.