Types of tea and their health effects
A brief history
Tea has a rich history dating back to its first recorded use by Chinese emperor Shen Nung in 2737BC. The consumption of tea spread quickly throughout Chinese culture by 800A.D the first book describing tea and its uses had been written. From its home in China tea next arrived in Japan, this was thanks to a Buddhist priest named Yeisei who hoped to use tea to enhance religious meditation.
It wasn’t until 1560 that a Portuguese missionary named ‘jasper de cruz’ finally brought tea to Europe. After arriving in Lisbon, tea was shipped to France and Holland and eventually on to England first arriving here in around 1652. It didn’t take long for tea to replace ale and gin as England’s national drink. Nowadays tea is officially the most popular drink in the world, with 165 million cups of tea drunk every day in England alone.
There are actually five main types of tea available each with its own unique taste and health properties
- Green Tea – This tea is pan fried or steamed to prevent the leaves from oxidizing or fermenting
- Oolong Tea – The most expensive of all varieties of tea due to its semi fermented nature
- Black Tea – black tea is by far the strongest form of tea fully fermented it carries up to three times as much caffeine as other varieties
- White Tea – White tea is quite rare made from the buds of the tea plant as apposed to the green leaves
- Pu Erh Tea – double fermented then left to grow mould, this tea is an acquired taste but it holds the most health benefits out of all the varieties
All these teas come from the same plant ‘camellia sinensis’ but it’s the different preparation methods that give each blend its unique taste and health benefits.
The healthy option
After years of alcohol as the standard drink for the middle and lower class in the U.K there is no surprise that the adoption of tea instead had a massive effect on the general health of the population. But aside from the obvious advantages of drinking this non alcoholic beverage tea also has a number of unique health benefits now verified by modern science.
Tea to help your heart
A national study of 1,765 women in Saudi Arabia concluded that regular tea drinkers were up to 20% less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
Tea ranks as high or higher in antioxidants then many fruit and vegetables. This is due to compounds known as flavonoids that are known to help prevent blood clots and lower cholesterol.
Tea as a anti-cancer plant
It’s now becoming clear to modern science that if you drink four or more cups of tea a day you are up to 60% less likely to develop cancer this is due to the high levels of antioxidants in tea leaves.
Keep your focus
One of teas most notable effects is its ability to help your concentrate and stay focused on a task for long periods of time. This effect is due to the amino acid L-theanine which first gets absorbed through your gut and then travels in the bloodstream to your brain. The best thing about this is unlike coffee it actually has a calming effect on the body.
Many modern studies have now confirmed what Chinese doctors have been telling us for centuries. Tea dose in fact boosts your metabolism which in turn helps you to lose weight
How to make your cuppa healthier
Don’t add milk
It might seem obvious but one of the main reasons people don’t reap all the benefits tea can offer is due to the western obsession of mixing it with milk. This detracts greatly from teas medicinal uses and can cause some serious adverse effects in the long term
Don’t add sugar
Sugar has so many negative effects on the human body, by reducing your daily intake of sugar you also reduce the risk of strokes heart attacks and countless other health issues
Get your tea from a clean area
It’s well worth while looking into where your tea is being produced, tea has the ability to take on toxins from its local environment some areas of China and India now have extremely high levels of air pollution which is then passed into the tea. It’s always best to source your tea from remote places if possible. As a general rule Chinese green tea is grown in higher more remote areas.