I love drinking tea for many reasons, and the health benefits behind drinking tea are a bonus. Each type of tea tastes so different, plus there are so many flavours available within each type. Chocolate flavoured teas are my favourite, especially because I can drink them when I am craving something sweet.
Health Benefits of Drinking Tea
Tea contains flavonoids (antioxidants), which is where most of the health benefits arise from. All types of tea, even black, also contribute to hydrating your body. Tea has much less caffeine than coffee, and contains no calories. All types of teas have health benefits. Here are some of the main benefits to regular tea consumption (3-4 cups a day):
- Increases immune system strength
- Helps protect against many types of cancers
- May increase bone mineral density
- Helps prevent bacteria growth (plaque) on your teeth
- Hydrates your body
- Can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Reduces risk of stroke
- Reduces risk of heart attack
- Boosts your metabolism
- Increases fat oxidization (green tea)
Camellia sinensis is the plant used to produce tea leaves for almost all types of tea. The leaves are processed differently to get the different types of tea. Herbal teas contain only fruit and/or herbs, and have no tea leaves in them. Loose leaf tea is usually much higher quality than bagged tea due to larger pieces of tea that create more flavour. In general, white, green, and oolong teas should be steeped at a lower temperature (just wait a few minutes after boiling) whereas the other tea types can be steeped right off the boil. It is important not to scorch the leaves, especially in green tea. Steeping time is a personal preference, although some teas can become bitter when steeped too long. Here are the main types of teas:
Drink your tea without adding anything if you can. Adding sugars can take a toll on your health if you have a few cups of tea a day. I prefer to use stevia in my tea because it is natural, contains no calories, and is very sweet. A little bit of honey or agave can be okay the odd time too. I caution against using sugars and artificial sweeteners. Milk, although tones down the bitterness of some teas, is said to interfere with the antioxidants, negating a lot of the health benefits.