It’s time for a Tea Party! Did you know that tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world? Second only to water. And for good reason, there are many health benefits associated with drinking tea. Several studies have shown that tea drinkers are at lower risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Researchers suspect this association is due to the polyphenols found in tea which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They also help support gut health, which is vital to your overall wellbeing. Some studies have shown a small weight loss effect with drinking green tea, however other’s show no benefit. As you probably know, hot tea is also the perfect drink to soothe a sore throat and help clear up stuffy nasal passages when you have a cold.
Which kind is best? Whether you choose black, green, oolong, or white tea they all have similar health benefits. All teas are made from the leaves of the same species Camelia sinensis plant. The significant differences between tea type develop in the processing of the leaves. White tea is the least processed of all teas and contains the least amount of caffeine (10-15 mg caffeine). The flavor is very subtle and may even taste just like drinking plain water. Black tea on the other hand, is fully oxidized and contains between 40-60 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce cup. This is just a fraction of what coffee contains at 100-200 mg caffeine per cup.
Herbal Teas and Rooibos. Herbal tea is not technically tea, but it is still tasty and can provide a variety of minerals. Certain types of herbal tea like Rooibos are naturally sweet, making it a good tea for satisfying your sweet tooth without any added sugars. Herbal tea is naturally caffeine free and comes in many flavors such as mint, apple cinnamon, hibiscus, etc. If you are craving an after dinner sweet, try an herbal tea instead.
Does ice tea count? Unsweetened, brewed ice tea counts. Offering similar benefits as hot tea. However, be careful of store bought bottled teas as most of them have added sugars. Even certain tea claiming to be “naturally sweetened” may contain honey which is high in sugar. Adding fresh squeezed lemon to your tea can add a burst of flavor without additional calories.
Do you drink tea? What is your favorite kind?
Heather Mason is a Registered Dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. She has a passion for debunking nutrition myths and helping people discover delicious and healthy food. You can read more posts from her on her blog, Nutty Nutrition.