THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF Tea

The tradition of drinking tea to maintain good health goes a long way back. In early Buddhist texts and Chinese manuals on healing herbs, Camellia sinensis (the tea plant) is consistently described as being a potent medicine for promoting good health and longevity, as well as keeping the mind alert and sharp and treating many ailments, from indigestion to the common cold. In our modern society, we are learning that there is quite a bit of scientific evidence to support tmany of these ancient claims. Medical and health care professionals agree that drinking tea has many benefits and is a healthy addition to any diet. All types of tea, white, green, oolong and black, are beneficial, though research has shown that some types may contain higher levels of certain polyphenols than others. For example, green tea is higher in catechins than black tea, though black tea contains theaflavins that green tea does not, due to the higher oxidation. Ideally, one would try to consume a variety of teas to be able to reap the unique health benefits of each type.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF Green Tea

Ingredients-A Scientific Approach

Following new scientific developments, research into the health effects of green tea has advanced significantly. Studies have shown that green tea is made of several main components that contribute to its character: catechins (texture), caffeine (bitterness), and theanine (flavor), as well as various vitamins and minerals. Present in large quantities of green tea, catechins (including EGCG) are a type of polyphenol that is also a component of red wine. Catechins also give green tea its signature texture, and as a potent antioxidant, hinders dangerous free radicals in the body. Caffeine gives green tea its bitter taste, while increasing alertness, and relieving fatigue. Theanine, an amino acid, gives green tea its taste and acts as a mild relaxant. Theanine helps to relieve the jittery effect that caffeine can sometimes produce in sensitive individuals. This makes it a great alternative to coffee which not only has higher levels of caffeine, but does not contain theanine to regulate the unpleasant physical side effects. These are the main research properties included in green tea. Green tea contains a well-balanced mix of these ingredients.

Main Properties of Green Tea
 
Catechin
  • Anti-tumorigenesis
  • Antioxidant effect
  • Inhibition of hypertension
  • Anti-hypercholestolemia
  • Hypoglycemic effect
  • Strengthens capillaries
  • Maintains elasticity of the skin
  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Prevention of halitosis
  • Radical scavenging effect*

*Free radicals wreak havoc on normal cells in the human body, causing more rapid aging, as well as abnormal cell growth that can lead to cancer. Antioxidants, like the catechins in green tea, fight free radicals and help to prevent cancer as well as promote more graceful aging.

Caffeine
  • Promotion of wakefulness
  • Eases fatigue and sleeplessness
  • Diuretic effect
Theanine (Amino Acid)
  • Antagonistic effect against convulsive action of caffeine
    (no jittery side effects)
  • Promotion of a physical sensation of relaxation
  • Inhibition of hypertension
  • Improvement of brain function
Carotene
  • Anti-carcinogenicity
y-Amino Butyric Acid
  • Inhibition of hypertension
Flavonoids
  • Strengthening of blood vessels
  • Prevention of halitosis
Vitamin C
  • Antioxidant effect
  • Prevention of flu
  • Health maintenance of skin and mucous membranes
  • Radical scavenging effect
Polysaccharides
  • Hypoglycemic effect
Vitamin E
  • Antioxidant effect
  • Health maintenance of cells
  • Radical scavenging effect
Zinc
  • Supports immune system
  • Fights colds and influenza
  • Maintains taste, vision and smell
Fluoride
  • Prevention of cavities
Calcium
  • Strengthening and growth of bones
  • Prevention of osteoporosis
  • Alleviation of arthritis symptoms
Saponins
  • Anti-fungal activity
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Antiallergenic activity
  • Anti-obesity
The Super Powers of Green Tea
 

For a long time, Japanese people have consumed green tea to accompany their cuisine, which relies heavily on seafood. It is said that Japanese people have naturally understood the protective properties of drinking green tea while eating sushi. The anti-bacterial properties of green tea catechins have now been scientifically demonstrated. It has been announced at academic conferences throughout the world that green tea helps prevent cancer. In the United States, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is conducting research into green tea's cancer inhibiting properties, and the results of this research should be revealed in the near future. Focusing on the properties of green tea, science is gradually proving the knowledge of our ancestors regarding the medicinal properties of tea.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF White Tea

White Tea is the least oxidized of all types of tea. Because of this and the higher proportion of young bud leaves, white tea is usually very low in caffeine, which makes it a good choice for people who are watching their caffeine intake. Many people believe white tea to be even better for you than green tea because it has been processed less. Research has shown that white tea contains the same free radical fighting catechins as green tea. White tea can help to prevent heart disease, cancers and stroke, as well as helping to treat diabetes. High levels of calcium and fluoride help maintain healthy teeth, gums and bones. White tea is an excellent addition to your daily routine.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF Oolong Tea

Oolong Teas are unique because they span an oxidation range of 20-80%, where some are closer to green teas, and others are more similar to black teas. Caffeine levels vary accordingly, where greener oolongs will have less caffeine content and darker oolongs will have higher caffeine content. Oolong teas, because they have higher oxidation levels than green tea, will also have lower catechin levels, although catechins are still present. However, although catechins decrease with oxidation, theaflavin and thearubigin levels increase. These polyphenols help in defending the body against stroke, dementia, heart disease and cancer. In addition to this, oolong teas have long been believed to aid in digestion, so have a cup with or after your next meal.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF Black Tea

Black teas contain the highest levels of caffeine among all types of tea. For someone who is looking for an efficient energy boost, this would be a great choice. However, for caffeine sensitive individuals, consumption of black tea should be moderate. Black tea does contain low levels of catechins, but is noted for having the highest levels of theaflavins and thearubinins. As more research is showing, these compounds are just as effective as the catechins in green tea in preventing heart disease, stroke and cancer, and lowering cholesterol. So don’t think that that your morning black tea isn’t as healthy as your cup of green tea in the afternoon. You are just consuming a different variety of healthy compounds.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF Pu-erh Tea

The unique processing of Pu-erh teas, where the leaves are literally fermented and aged, chemically changes the makeup of the tea. Pu-erh tea has varying, but generally low levels of caffeine. It also contains very high amounts of flavonoids, which are aggressive in lowering LDL cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Studies have shown that pu-erh has the ability to break up fats, which makes this tea especially effective at aiding digestion after particularly heavy or greasy meals. Traditionally, this type of tea was also believed to aid in weight loss, and is now included in many “slimming” tea formulas. Recent studies in rats have shown a decrease in body mass and higher metabolism when consuming pu-erh, however the effect on human metabolism has not been proved. While it may or may not aid in maintaining a healthy weight, the other benefits to the heart and body are important enough to consider trying this unique tea.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF Herbal Tea

Herbal “teas” or tisanes are not true teas, because they do not derive from the Camellia sinensis plant, however these tisanes have some virtues of their own. Most notably, these infusions do not contain caffeine, which makes them acceptable for young children, the elderly or for evening tea drinking. A specific example, rooibos, a red bush from South Africa, has high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, as well as being caffeine free. Lavender has been used for generations to promote relaxation and to calm the mind and body. Chamomile, while also having strong calming powers, has been used as a natural pain reliever when prepared in strong infusions. Peppermint is used by many traditions, especially in Moroccan culture, as a tea to help aid in digestion and to clear the sinuses. These herbs, while not having the super powers of the Camellia sinensis plant should not be overlooked, as they do have their own more subtle benefits and can be enjoyed by anyone at any time of the day.