National Hot Tea Month
I absolutely love tea. In fact, I went on a huge green tea kick last summer. I felt better than I had in a long time. In the spirit of January being National Hot Tea Month, let’s talk about tea and its many benefits.
Tea is arguably one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide. There are many varieties of tea one can drink. Most teas are differentiated, typically, by the oxidation method used to process the plant (Ciftaslan and Inanc 708). Green tea is unoxidized or unfermented tea leaves, oolong tea is partially oxidized or partially fermented tea leaves, black tea is oxidized or fermented tea leaves, and finally, white tea is the steamed young tea leaves and buds of the plant (Sinija and Mishra, 233). The different processing techniques of tea impact the different benefits each type offers. However, drinking any kind of tea has general overall health benefits.
The flavonoids and antioxidants found in tea are called phenolic compounds, classified under the subcategory polyphenols. These polyphenols are the chemicals that provide tea with its ability to have a beneficial impact on the body when consumed. Polyphenols have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, and anti-aging effects (Atalay and Erge 495). Additionally, they have been found to lower the risk of cancer and obesity (Atalay and Erge 495). The chemical compounds found in tea makes it an amazing and beneficial drink to incorporate into your lifestyle. However not every type of tea is made equally.
In the study conducted by Atalay and Erge, they found that the more fermented the tea leaves were, the less phenolic, flavonoid, and antioxidant content the tea had (500). Thus, because green tea is unfermented (or unoxidized) during processing, it has the highest polyphenol content, implying it has the strongest health benefits. This can lead us to the conclusion that because black tea is fermented during processing, it has comparatively fewer benefits.
The superior polyphenol content of green tea doesn’t mean the other teas don’t offer significant benefits as well. If the variety of teas you prefer are brewed with black tea leaves, don’t sweat it. Incorporating any one of these types of teas into your lifestyle is ultimately better than omitting them. Personally, while my green tea phase last summer was great, I still will be reaching for favorite chai tea (a blend traditionally brewed with black tea leaves) to drink daily.
Atalay D, Erge HS. Determination of some physical and chemical properties of white, green, and black teas. GIDA / The Journal of Food. 2017;42(5):494-504
Ciftaslan A, Inanc AL. Comparison of Black Tea Types with Grades and Blends. Italian Journal of Food Science. 2017;29(4):707-727
Sinija VR, Mishra HN. Green tea: Health benefits. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine. 2008;17(4):232-242