Tea is the most widely consumed drink in the world (after water). From China to Europe to India, and to the rest of the world, drinking tea has long history. Black tea is the most common variety and it’s packed with heart-friendly and cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. However, it’s high in caffeine (42mg per cup), which can affect your health adversely if consumed in large quantities. If you’re looking for healthier alternatives to your usual morning cup, here are some tea varieties to choose from.
White tea is the least processed of all types of tea. The leaves are picked when very young, which gives white tea a subtle colour and flavour. The caffeine content is also low (28 mg per cup). White tea has the same health benefits as black tea, though some studies have shown that white tea actually has better cancer-fighting properties than processed teas. Drinking white tea can improve glucose tolerance, which is good news for diabetics.
Green tea is slightly more processed than white – the leaves are dried and heat-treated (either steamed or pan-fired) to stop fermentation. Depending on how it’s treated, flavours vary from grassy to smoky. Green tea is known for several health benefits, especially fat-burning properties that help in weight loss. The antioxidants in green tea can reduce risks of cancer, stroke and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Green tea is not caffeine-free, though the content is low (25mg per cup).
Oolong tea is similar to black tea but it’s fermented for a shorter time, which gives it a complex yet fresh flavour. Some of the best oolongs come from China and they can be steeped as many as eight times, each time giving a different flavour dimension. Oolong tea has moderate caffeine levels (37mg per cup), but it’s as rich in anti-oxidants as other tea varieties. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Chamomile is a plant from the daisy family, whose flowers are used to make herbal infusions. Chamomile tea contains no tea leaves, just the dried flower heads, sometimes mixed with other herbs. It has numerous health benefits from soothing stomach-aches to calming muscle spasms. Its anti-bacterial properties help in fighting colds and infections. Chamomile tea is caffeine-free and also soothes the nervous system, enabling a good night’s sleep.
Another caffeine-free variety, rooibos tea is an herbal decoction made from the leaves of the red bush tree that is native to southern Africa. The tea has a distinctive reddish-brown colour and a nutty, full-bodied taste. Rooibos tea is known to relieve stress, and also helps in fighting skin conditions, from sunburn to acne. It’s rich in calcium and can lower the risk of osteoporosis.
So, now it is probably the right time to brew yourself a refreshing cup of tea and take a step towards improving your health.
1 cup = 8 fl oz, or 237 ml