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Drinking tea is an integral part of many cultures, especially in the South-East Asian and European regions of the world. And people from these regions would swear by the amazing health benefits of this fantastic beverage.
But is that a cultural bias or is there some grain of truth in these claims? That's what we are going to find out in this article: the different types of tea and their health benefits if any.
The 4 Basic Types Of Tea
Traditionally, tea is produced by steeping the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which is grown in hilly regions around the world. You can get 4 different types of tea from its leaves - white, green, oolong, and black - depending on how oxidized the leaves are. Heavily oxidized leaves are darker in colour.
But the term 'tea' is also used to describe herbal or fruity concoctions produced by steeping herbs or fruits in hot water.
The following list will discuss only the health benefits of the traditional teas.
You have heard of green, brown, and black tea. But what the hell is white tea?
Well, the sun-dried buds and leaves of the tea plant is called white tea because of the silvery-white strands on them. It is the least-processed of all the traditional tea types, and therefore, is the most nutritious variety of tea. Plus, it has a milder and sweeter flavour compared to the other tea varieties.
This tea variety is mainly produced in China and has been the favored tea type of the Chinese royalty for thousands of years. The following are the four white tea types produced in China:-
- Bai Mu Dan
- Bai Hao Yinzhen
- Shou Mei
- Gong Mei
Other white tea varieties grown in other parts of the world are Ceylon white (Sri Lanka), Darjeeling White, Assam White, and African White.
The most important health benefit reaped from drinking white tea is derived from its abundant antioxidants. In fact, white tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants in it compared to any other tea variety. This is beneficial for keeping cancer and cardiovascular disease at bay.
But if you want to lose weight, you should choose green tea over white tea, since the former has a higher caffeine content.
Green tea is famous around the world for its supposed ability to help you lose weight. But is that true? Let's find out.
Green tea leaves are picked once the immature silvery-white leaves mature a little more and become oxidized in the sunlight. These tea leaves are not processed as much as brown or black tea leaves, and therefore, are more nutrient-rich.
Most of the health benefits of green tea are derived from the catechins and flavonols in it. In fact, the most important compound found in green tea, which is not found in other tea varieties, is EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate).
EGCG is responsible for green tea's ability to boost your metabolism and help you lose weight.
Other health benefits of drinking green tea are:-
- Protects you from cancer
- Prevents heart diseases and type 2 diabetes
- Controls high blood pressure
- Boosts immunity
- Promotes mental wellness and brain health
Producing oolong tea takes a long time since the process involves repeated rolling and oxidizing over gentle flames to bring out the characteristic layered flavor of oolong. In fact, because of this partial oxidization, oolong tea falls somewhere between green and black tea and can be anywhere between 8% to 80% oxidized.
Because of this unique processing technique, oolong tea has a very smooth, floral, and rich flavor profile.
Like the other tea varieties, oolong tea is also beneficial for losing weight. This is because each cup of oolong tea contains 30 mg of caffeine. But the most important property of oolong tea is its ability to cut down on your blood cholesterol level.
Other health benefits of this tea are derived from its rich nutrient profile, which includes the vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, and minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and selenium.
When tea leaves are completely oxidized under heat, you get black tea. It has the strongest flavor among all the different varieties of tea and is the only tea drunk with milk and sugar around the world.
When you steep these tea leaves in boiling water, you get a deep brown or dark red tea. And it contains the highest amount of caffeine compared to all other tea varieties (50 mg per cup!).
The main health benefits of black tea are derived from the antioxidants present in it, especially quercetin. This helps reduce inflammation in the body and get rid of harmful free radicals that speed up the aging process and cause organ damage.
Which Tea Are You Going To Try First?
If you ask me, the answer would be white tea, since I have never tried it. So if this article made you hungry for a cup of tea, do share it with your friends, so they can read it too.