For thousands of years, cultures all around the world have enjoyed (and enjoyed the health benefits of) regularly consuming tea as their staple beverage. Some teas were consumed initially for medicinal purposes. Others became a strong sign of status in their respective societies.
Empires have gone great lengths to obtain this simple beverage. They have traded, fought battles over, and even outright stolen tea. This may be difficult to believe, but it is true…
Today, happily, we no longer have to win wars to enjoy a nice cup of tea. Rather, it is as simple as buying a box of teabags at the supermarket, finding what you’re looking for online or going the classic route and ordering a hot cup at your favorite beverage stand (a personal favorite!).
However, tea is still extremely valuable in terms of the benefits it delivers. After all, it has the same medicinal properties it had thousands of years ago. Today, science has shown how much we can benefit by incorporating it into our beverages of choice.
Let’s consider some of the benefits of three teas. And, help you make the best choice!
White, green, and black teas are all made from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, they are all processed a bit differently, leaving you with different aromas and flavors. The process used for each tea affects the distinct benefits that each has to offer.
White tea is harvested from the unopened buds of Camellia sinensis, and white tea gets its name from the fine white hairs covering the buds. After the immature leaves are removed from the plant, they are traditionally dried with sunlight, fresh air, or the combination of both.
After brewing, rather than being milky white in your teacup, white tea finishes as a pale yellow or amber shade. Its flavor is the mildest among the three, often being described as sweet, floral, and silky. You will not be left with an assertive aftertaste of the stronger green and black teas.
Among the three teas, white tea goes through the least amount of processing and contains extremely high levels of antioxidants as a result.
Simply put, these are great compounds to have in your life…
Antioxidants and Polyphenols
Antioxidants are a fairly diverse category of healthful molecules that carry a wide range of benefits. They protect your skin against the aging effects of the sun, help control inflammation of your joints, and protect your cells against carcinogenic threats.
Particularly, white tea contains high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols reduce chronic inflammation in the body by helping blood vessels to relax and by preventing cholesterol from oxidizing. Together, these factors can significantly reduce the chances of heart disease and other health risks (source).
Unlike green and black tea, it carries considerably less potential to stain your teeth. In fact, white tea naturally contains small amounts of fluoride, which helps prevent cavities and bacteria from growing on your teeth.
If you’re not quite convinced yet: white tea can also help burn fat and increase metabolism.
There’s evidence to suggest it reduces the risks of insulin resistance, protects against osteoporosis and can even help protect against debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
To summarize: white tea is a great choice for some light-hearted sipping, yet really packs a punch for your overall wellness!
Moving on, however…
There is a little more that goes into processing green tea than white tea. Once the leaves are harvested, they must be heated quickly.
Chinese green tea leaves are typically pan-fried, while Japanese green tea leaves are steamed. They are heated before they have time to oxidize, leaving a much more grassy, botanical flavor – depending on the specific leaf used.
Like white tea, green tea earns its name by the color of its leaves upon picking rather than its appearance after brewing. Some varieties are similar, but green tea finishes with a rich golden color in your cup.
Also like white tea, green tea is full of antioxidants that help regulate your blood pressure and improve heart health. They also help manage blood sugar, relieve pain, and fight inflammation throughout the body.
Green tea can help improve the appearance and health of your hair and skin (source). Many of the polyphenols found in green tea help stimulate hair follicles. And, its anti-inflammatory properties can help soothe a dry or irritated scalp.
Further, green tea can be ingested and applied topically to substantially help repair DNA damaged by UV rays (source). Not only will this application help slow down the aging process of your skin, but also an antibacterial aid in unclogging pores and treating acne.
If you are tired of being tired, and even more tired of looking tired, then green tea is a great choice. The natural caffeine present in green tea will not only help wake you up and focus but will also reduce puffiness and redness around the eyes.
OK. Let’s complete today’s Tea Trilogy…
Among the three, black tea is the most diverse in its color and flavor. Depending on the origins of the leaf, black tea could have malty, fruity, or smoky notes. The flavor is generally much stronger than green or white tea. You might even call it the Coffee of Tea.
This difference in taste is due to how it’s processed. Before being heated and dried, and in contrast to the two teas above, the tea leaves are left out to oxidize. The leaves finish by turning a dark brown or black color because oxygen has interacted with the plant’s cells.
Although this may sound like a strike against black tea at first, the reality is you can expect many of the same health benefits. Despite the oxidation and change in color, the cardiovascular support and anti-inflammatory properties are still present.
More caffeine is found in black tea than the previously listed teas and is often consumed as a substitute for coffee.
However, black tea has more to offer than caffeine to improve focus. It also naturally contains quantities of the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid has a calming effect without compromising energy levels. Combining L-theanine with caffeine can result in greater focus and accuracy while energy levels remain more stable.
Promote Gut Health
Black tea carries its own unique benefits – it is especially useful in promoting gut health which is gaining plenty of recent attention (source)…
Remember, our gut is full of good and bad bacteria. The antimicrobial properties found in black tea can help kill harmful substances found in the stomach and even inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. This represents its protective side.
On the proactive side, black tea promotes the growth of good bacteria among your gut flora. It can also help repair the lining of your digestive tract.
What Tea Should You Be Drinking?
The best answer – quite honestly – is all three. Depending on your specific health goals and flavor preferences, you may enjoy one more than the other, and it’s perfectly fine to let your taste buds be your guide most of the time…
However, hopefully this information is helpful in addressing a specific area of your health. You can benefit today as much as so many have for thousands of years.
Regardless of which is your favorite, you will no doubt appreciate the overall health benefits of each tea as much as you do their flavors…it’s some of the tastiest medicine you’ll ever have!