In the East tea has been a staple beverage for thousands of years and is believed to be a key to health. The term "tea" is often used in a very broad manner; however, the true teas originate from Camellia Sinesis which is a plant native to China and India. These true teas would include green, black, white, oolong, and pu-erh. The key health component of tea appears to be the flavonoids which fight free radicals that contribute to heart related diseases, clogged arteries and even cancer. Tea has low levels of caffeine that typically do not affect sleep patterns but do boost mental acuity.
More specifically research demonstrates the following:
1. Green Tea – The antioxidants in green tea appear to disrupt the growth of the following cancers: bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal. The risk of stroke, clogged arteries, and high cholesterol is reduced in regular green tea drinkers. The rate of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease is lower in green tea drinkers as well.
2. Black Tea – Black tea has the highest caffeine content and is made from fermented tea leaves. Black tea provides lung and stroke protection.
3. White Tea – Unprocessed white tea may have the most potent anti-cancer properties.
4. Oolong Tea – Oolong tea is helpful in reducing high cholesterol.
5. Pu-erh – Pu-erh tea may help to maintain healthy body weight and lowers unhealthy LDL cholesterol. It is a fermented tea made from black tea leaves.
Herbal teas are made from plants other than Camellia Sensis and include herbs, roots, leaves, fruits, and seeds. There are too many to list; however, some common herbal teas include chamomile, red tea, ginger, and jasmine. These herbal teas are varied but are full of different nutrients, and when steeped it is like drinking a very healthy soup. Some of the claims are not supported by science, for example, chamomile fighting the common cold; but, the fluids consumed by someone who has a cold and the healthy nutrients are certainly good for us. Adding a sweetner like honey, agave or sugar is fine occasionally as a treat, but developing a taste for straight tea is best.