Regarded for thousands of years in the East as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom, various tea types have also caught the attention of researchers in the West. Whereby, some are still discovering the many health benefits of different tea types.
Obviously, from green teas to hibiscus, from white teas to chamomile, teas are chock full of flavonoids and other healthy goodies. And you’ll agree with me that no matter what the season, tea can be a tasty beverage since it can be served iced or hot.
But, did you know that its benefits go far beyond refreshment? In fact, there is plenty of research showing that drinking a variety of teas can actually improve your health. For instance, the newest study is the one published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
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It involved more than 100,000 adults in China. Whereby, it found that those who regularly drank tea were less likely to develop atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Or rather, die prematurely from any cause — particularly stroke — compared to others during a seven-year follow-up.
The link was especially strong among habitual tea drinkers. Meaning — those who enjoyed the beverage at least three times a week. And by all means, green tea seemed to have a stronger effect than black tea. So, what is the general meaning of tea for beginners? Well, let’s elaborate further in detail below.
What Is Tea?
In general, Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. But, they are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant.
Often, this is a shrub native to China and India and contains unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. And all these tea types also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.
The more processed the leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Whereby, oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented. So that in the end, they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green teas. But, their antioxidizing power is still very high.
Which Are The Main Tea Types?
If you’re new to tea, the many different types and varieties of tea can seem confusing and overwhelming. What exactly is the difference between black tea and green tea? What about herbal tea and rooibos? Can you tell your whites from your oolongs, your purples from your pu-erhs?
When it comes to tea, there are a few basic categories that make it easier to understand how tea is processed and what it will taste like when brewed. Beyond these categories, however, there is a vast array of different tea varietals, growing conditions, and processing methods.
Even when using the same varietal of tea and similar growing and processing conditions, teas grown in different locations will develop different characteristics thanks to the unique terroir of their environment. Ultimately, there are as many different types of tea as there are tea producers.
Whether you’re just beginning to learn more about tea or are a dedicated tea drinker, there are always new and interesting single-origin teas and tea blends to choose from! That said, below are the general types of teas that you should know about;
1. Black Tea
Many people new to the world of tea are most familiar with black tea. You can find black tea in name-brand teabags at grocery stores like Lipton or Tetley. Popular breakfast blends like English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast are other examples of black tea.
To produce black tea, tea leaves are harvested, wilted, and then lightly crushed. Some types of black tea, such as Irish Breakfast, are broken up into even smaller pieces using a method known as crush-tear-curl, or CTC. The tea leaves are then fully oxidized, which turns them a brownish-black color.
Black teas tend to be relatively high in caffeine, with about half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. They brew up a dark, coppery color, and usually have a stronger, more robust flavor than other types of tea.
Made with fermented leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect the lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is another type of tea made from the camellia Sinensis plant. It’s often brewed up a light green or yellow color. And it tends to have a lighter body and milder taste. They contain about half as much caffeine as black tea (about a quarter that of a cup of coffee.)
Popular green teas include Gunpowder, Jasmine Yin Cloud, and Moroccan Mint. Green tea is harvested and then immediately either steamed or pan-fired in order to halt the oxidation process. Stopping oxidation soon after harvest is what gives green tea leaves their bright green color and their light, vegetal taste.
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The tea leaves are then rolled or pressed into their final shape and dried. Made with steamed leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers.
As well as preventing clogging of the arteries, burning of fat, and counteracting oxidative stress on the brain. While at the same time, reducing the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. As well as, reducing the risk of stroke, and improving cholesterol levels.
3. White Tea
White tea is a delicate, minimally processed tea that is highly sought after by connoisseurs and enjoyed by experts and novices alike. It has a light body and a mild flavor with a crisp, clean finish. It’s uncured and unfermented.
White tea tends to be very low in caffeine, although some silver tip teas may be slightly higher in caffeine. Popular white teas include Bashan Silver Tip and White Peony. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
Basically, white tea is minimally processed before being dried and packaged. In some cases, as with silver tip and silver needle teas, white tea is harvested from the very first tips and buds of the tea plant, before they open to form full leaves.
Other white teas, like White Peony, are harvested after the leaves unfurl and grow. In both cases, white teas experience minimal amounts of oxidation.
4. Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is a partially oxidized tea, placing it somewhere in between black and green teas in terms of oxidation. It can range from around 10-80% oxidation. And can brew up anywhere from a pale yellow to a rich amber cup of tea.
Many oolongs can be re-infused many times, with subtle differences and nuances of flavor in each successive cup. Also, many types of oolong teas, such as Milk Oolong, are grown from special varietals of the tea plant. Cultivated for many years in order to impart unique flavors to the tea.
The leaves are harvested, wilted, and then undergo partial oxidation. Depending on the type of oolong, they may be oxidized for only a short period of time or may undergo more thorough oxidation almost to the level of a black tea.
Some oolong teas are then shaped by hand into small, tightly rolled balls before being dried and packaged. In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels.
5. Pu-erh Tea
Pu-erh tea is an aged, partially fermented tea that is similar to black tea in character. They brew up an inky brown-black color and have a full body with a rich, earthy, and deeply satisfying taste. They’re fairly high in caffeine, containing about the same amount as black tea (half that of a cup of coffee.)
Initially, it’s processed in a way similar to green tea. Leaves are harvested, steamed, or pan-fired to halt oxidation, and then shaped and dried. After the leaves dry, they then undergo a fermentation process. Sheng pu-erh is produced using a traditional method.
Where tea leaves are aged using a longer and more gradual process. Shou pu-erh is produced using a modern, accelerated fermentation method. Both types of pu-erh are often aged for several years. While the rich and earthy flavors of the tea often improve over time.
The pu-erh teas we carry are aged for about three years. Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.
6. Purple Tea
Purple tea is a relatively new kind of tea and has only been commercially available for a few years. The tea is produced from a rare purple-leaved tea plant found growing wild in the Assam region of India. Today, purple teas are primarily produced in Kenya, Africa.
They have a light body and mellow flavor and are extremely low in caffeine and high in antioxidants and anthocyanins. Usually, the tea is produced in a manner similar to Oolong teas. The leaves are harvested, wilted, and undergo partial oxidation before being shaped and dried.
When brewed, purple tea brews up a light reddish-purple, thanks to the unique color of its leaves.
7. Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is a type of powdered green tea popular in Japan. It can be consumed on its own when whisked with water, and can also be added to lattes, smoothies, and baked goods. In addition, it has a smooth, rich flavor with notes of umami and just a hint of bitterness.
It’s produced from special tea plants that are shaded for at least three weeks prior to harvest. The shading process increases the chlorophyll in the plants, which gives them a deep emerald green color. It also increases the caffeine and l-theanine present in the tea and contributes to the unique umami flavor of the tea.
The leaves are steamed immediately after harvest in order to halt the oxidation process. When the leaves are shaped and dried like a typical green tea, they are known as Gyokuro. To make matcha, these leaves are stone-ground into a very fine powder.
8. Flavored Teas
Any of the types of tea listed above can be flavored teas with a variety of spices, herbs, fruits, and flowers. These additional ingredients build on a tea base in order to create unique flavor combinations and tea blends. Flavors added to tea can vary from floral to sweet, spicy to smoky, and everything in between.
Popular flavored teas include Masala Chai, Jasmine Yin Cloud, and Lychee Purple. There is also Rooibos Tea. Rooibos tea is a particular type of herbal tea made from a plant native to South Africa. These teas are sometimes also referred to as red tea or red bush tea and are naturally caffeine-free.
It has a full-body similar to that of black tea, which makes it a good option for people who enjoy black tea but are looking to avoid caffeine. Not to mention, it has a pleasant natural sweetness and is delicious when taken on its own or with a splash of milk.
9. Yerba Mate
Yerba Mate is a tea-like drink made from a plant native to South America. Although mate is not related to the Camellia Sinensis tea plant, it does contain caffeine. Mate is traditionally prepared in a hollow gourd by adding leaves and hot water to the gourd to steep.
The tea is then consumed through a filtered straw known as a bombilla. In many South American countries, mate is shared among a group of friends by drinking and refilling the same gourd as it is passed from person to person.
Additionally, Mate can also be prepared in the same way as other teas and tisanes, by steeping the leaves in an infuser or filter in a mug or pot.
10. Herbal Teas
Although we colloquially call herbal teas “tea,” they’re not actually related to true teas made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Instead, herbal teas are composed of a blend of different herbs and spices.
In general, herbal teas contain no caffeine. There are a wide variety of different kinds of herbal teas. Including both single-ingredient teas like Peppermint and Chamomile. As well as creative blends like Lavender Lullaby and Atomic Gold. Herbal teas are also sometimes called herbal infusions or tisanes.
Popular herbal tea ingredients include peppermint, chamomile, hibiscus, ginger, lavender, and more. Herbal blends often have medicinal properties. And then, depending on the blend can be used to treat everything from sore throats to upset stomachs.
What Does Tea Generally Provide?
Basically, of all types, green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits. Some of the benefits may include, improved brain function, fat loss, protecting against cancer, and lowering the risk of heart disease.
The results suggest habitual tea consumption may be considered “as an overall health-promoting lifestyle behavior.” Wrote Vanessa Bianconi, a researcher at the University of Perugia in Italy and lead author of an editorial accompanying the new research.
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Tea’s ability to lower blood pressure may be why it could reduce a person’s risk of dying of a stroke, the editorial noted. And, especially, green tea is a rich source of flavonoids. These are bioactive compounds that can lessen oxidative stress.
As well as relieve inflammation, and provide other health benefits. But, they cautioned more research was needed to see whether the results in Chinese adults would also apply to people outside East Asia. In nutshell, in order to help you feel better, lose weight, and lower your risk of chronic diseases, you may want to consider making herbal teas a regular part of your life.
Based on the findings, a 50-year-old frequent tea drinker might develop heart disease almost a year and a half later. Or even, live about a year longer than someone who never or seldom drank tea, the study authors wrote. Generally, there are two main types you can benefit from. Including herbal teas and instant teas. And now, let’s try to understand more about them in detail.
Surprisingly, the rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing in recent decades. The condition now affects about 1 in 1o people in Kenya.
Type 2 diabetes involves having elevated blood sugar levels, which may be caused by insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. However, studies show that green tea may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
Made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots steeped in hot water, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. And as a matter of fact, their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used.
- Ginkgo biloba,
- Rooibos (red tea),
- Chamomile, and
It is also important to realize, limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas. But, claims that they help to shed pounds, stave off colds, and bring on restful sleep are largely unsupported.
Some findings include:
- Chamomile Tea: Its antioxidants may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, and stunt the growth of cancer cells.
- Echinacea: Often touted as a way to fight the common cold, the research on echinacea has been inconclusive.
- Hibiscus: A small study found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered blood pressure in people with modestly elevated levels.
- Rooibos (Red Tea): A South African herb that is fermented. Although it has flavonoids with cancer-fighting properties, medical studies have been limited.
Instant tea may contain very little amounts of actual tea and plenty of sugars or artificial sweeteners. For health’s sake, always remember to check out the ingredients on the label.
The agency also warns consumers to be wary of herb-containing supplements that claim to kill pain and fight cancer. For one thing, none of the claims is backed by science and some of the herbs have led to bowel problems. Like, liver and kidney damage, and even death. These cautions aside, nutritionists say to drink up and enjoy the health benefits of a variety of teas.
Consider the following:
- They contain healthy bioactive compounds: Help in reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
- Improves brain functions: Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee but enough to produce an effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.
- Increases fat burning: Teas may boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning in the short term, although not all studies agree. And not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, but it may also protect your brain as you age.c
- Antioxidant effects: The powerful antioxidants may help protect against cancer. Multiple studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of various types of cancer.
- May help reduce bad breath: The catechins in green tea may inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk of bad breath.
- Helps prevent cardiovascular disease: Green tea may lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. As well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Studies show that people who drink green tea have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Does Tea Inhibit Coronavirus?
Of course, Yes! Researchers from Taiwan and China have found that in a laboratory study SARS Cov-2 could be inhibited by compounds that are abundant in teas. Whereas, numerous black tea polyphenols were found to inhibit the SARS Cov-2 replication.
Especially those of Theaflavins-1, Theaflavins-2, and Theaflavins-3. Other results suggest that Theaflavins might be a good starting point for the design of more active inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2. And that these compounds are abundant in the extract of black tea.
Particularly, if produced from the seedlings that belong to Camellia L SP. As well as the cultivars developed by the UPASI Tea Research Institute. In another recent study, a research group from Indonesia and Thailand studied the secondary metabolites secreted by plants in tropical regions.
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That can be developed as medicines. By investigating a number of compounds and their potential, they found out that; Along with several compounds catechin, and epicatechin-gallate sourced from tea (Camellia Sinensis) was the most recommended compound.
In that case, acting as potential inhibitors of COVID-19 Coronavirus. Proving that drinking 3 to 4 cups of black tea in a day is associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction and reduced risk of stroke. With that in mind, you can also see other additional 21 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Green Tea in detail.
Equally important, it was proved that drinking black tea (which has Theaflavins content), 3X a day had a positive impact on other related cases as well. Such as reducing the degree of growth of cancerous cells. Including breast cancer, skin cancer, and even prostate cancer. However, further research is still in progress to prove the anti-viral properties it has against Coronavirus.
As can be seen, there’re several tea types for your consideration out there. What’s more, whichever tea you’ll choose, it’s more than just a hydrating beverage. Particularly, the green one contains a range of healthy compounds that make it into the final drink.
One thing is for sure, many tea types are rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds that have numerous health benefits. Such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer. Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
In addition, given that some compounds in green tea may help protect against cancer and heart disease, it makes sense that it could help you live longer. That said, below are other related topic links you should equally consider too.
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Finally, during these hard times of lockdown and curfews, I hope that the above-revised guide on tea types and their benefits will be useful to you or even your family and friends.
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