National ‘hot tea’ month falls in January, one of the coldest and wettest months of the year, so enjoying a hot cup of tea may be a great way to warm up, whilst also potentially benefiting your health.
The Antioxidant activity in tea has been found to help protect the body from free radical attack as well as beneficially modulating detoxification enzymes; positively stimulating immune function as well as decreasing platelet aggregation. The health benefits ascribed to the consumption of teas may be related to the high content of bioactive ingredients such as polyphenols, which have been reported to possess antioxidant, antiviral, and anti- inflammatory activities.
What are the health benefits of drinking tea?
Regular tea consumption has been found to provide health benefits, offering hydration and is a great alternative to drinking coffee as it contains less caffeine. There are a variety of different kinds of teas available on the market, each with a different strength and flavour. Green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea all derive from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is native to China and India.
These teas contain caffeine and the amino acid theanine as well as antioxidant flavonoids which may help to protect against free radicals. Each tea undergoes varying degrees of oxidation which affects their health-promoting capacities.
Black tea, is fully fermented and research shows that when drunk regularly (3 cups per day) may help to reduce blood sugar levels, lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, whilst increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, as well as potentially reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, improving endothelial function and blood pressure leading to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Green tea is unfermented and contains high concentrations of EGCG, which offer powerful antioxidant benefits that have been shown to reduce the build-up of atherosclerosis, as well as lowering total cholesterol, and triglycerides levels, whilst increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, leading to a reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as potentially reducing the risk of cancer.
White tea is the least processed and is made from buds and certain leaves which are steamed, and dried, regular intakes may help to boost cardiovascular health, helping to lower cholesterol, whilst potentially reducing the risk of cancer and enhancing weight loss.
Oolong or Pu-erh tea is partially fermented and has been found to reduce the risk of Heart Disease, potentially promoting weight loss, decreasing inflammation, as well as reducing the risk of cancer.
Studies have found that drinking six cups of black tea per day is associated with a 36% lower risk of developing heart disease.
Herbal teas can be made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or even the roots of plants or flowers, this means that they vary in potency and chemical compositions, depending on the plant used. Herbal teas come in hundreds of different varieties and they offer a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and most do not contain caffeine. Although herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea, they still have many health benefits, especially if they are drunk frequently throughout the day, thereby increasing antioxidant levels in the bloodstream.
Dandelion, hibiscus, green, hawthorn, and juniper teas are considered to be ‘Diuretics’ teas, as they may help to eliminate toxins from the body, whilst supporting the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver.
Elderberry, echinacea, ginger, and liquorice root teas contain antioxidants and vitamins that have been found to boost the immune system, and may help to prevent infections, whilst protecting against oxidative stress.
Valerian, kava root, chamomile, and lavender teas may help to balance neurotransmitter levels, helping to reduce anxiety and to improve sleep.
Allspice, bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, and kava root teas have been found to have ‘analgesic’ properties, and may help relive discomfort and pain, or support recovery from surgery illness and injury.
Peppermint, ginger, turmeric and eucalyptus teas have been found to help reduce inflammation, including arthritic inflammation and haemorrhoids, whilst reducing gastrointestinal discomfort.
Kava root, valerian, St. John’s Wort and chamomile tea consumption has been found to help to lower stress, depression and anxiety levels, whilst also boosting energy levels.
Dandelion, chamomile, cinnamon, peppermint and ginger teas have been found to help aid digestion by improving symptoms of Indigestion, cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhoea.