Sure, we all love a steaming cup of coffee or hot chocolate during wintry weather, and these have plenty of health benefits. But as Eastern cultures have known for centuries, we shouldn’t count tea out.
There are many different kinds of tea, each kind with its own unique health benefits. Check out these 5 varieties to boost your immune system, rev up your metabolism and more.
OK, this is technically cheating as chai isn’t just a kind of tea on its own like the others on this list, but rather a blend of black tea, herbs and spices. But let’s just go with it. We’ll start with the tea part: Black tea has been shown to reduce post-workout aches and pains, as well as preventing the buildup of oral plaque and boosting concentration thanks to the amino acid l–theanine. Chai also contains some of the most potent spices and herbs around, including cardamom, which helps regulate heart function and clove, which is pain-relieving and anti-bacterial. Then there’s the anti-inflammatory impact of ginger, blood sugar regulating cinnamon and digestion-aiding fennel. Plus the rich array of minerals in black pepper.
Made from young leaves picked just after tea plants bud, white tea doesn’t get the same hype as its green cousin, but is still a health heavy hitter. Researchers have found that the high concentration of polyphenols in white tea helps protect against colon cancer. These same phytochemicals also help combat fatigue, lower cholesterol and get high blood pressure under control. Plus, white tea is at the low end of the caffeine scale, with just 30 to 55 milligrams per cup, so you can drink it later in the day than coffee or black tea.
Red Rooibos Tea
Alright, technically rooibos red tea isn’t a tea at all, but rather a herb harvested from South Africa’s Aspalathus linearis plant. But it’s still sold and consumed as a tea, so let’s overlook its credentials. Red tea can help relieve hypertension and anxiety, and is also a bronchodilator, meaning it mitigates respiratory ailments. The quercetin found in rooibos supports cardiovascular functions and its alpha-hydroxy acids can improve skin health and appearance.
While many types of tea are just made from leaves, oolong can also contain the buds and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant. Oolong promotes dental health by inhibiting growth of the bacteria that causes tooth decay. Research from scientists in Kyoto shows that oolong also helps the body better control glucose levels and reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease, and can enhance fat oxidation. Oolong may also boost mineral density in bones, helping to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis.
OK, OK, big surprise! We know that green tea is fast approaching sainthood in health circles and you’re sick of hearing about it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recap some of its benefits. Green tea boosts immune system function, helping reduce the chance of getting a cold or the flu (handy at this time of year, yes?). Its rich blend of antioxidants is also thought to cut the risk of colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. Plus, the catechin compounds in green tea promote brain health. Drinking green tea with lemon or other citrus juice or combining it with another source of vitamin C increases the bioavailability of such catechins, according to a research study conducted at Purdue University.