Healthy benefits of tea

Is drinking tea healthy for you?

Is drinking tea healthy for you?

Yes, tea is a beverage that is from a natural resource and the common belief is that tea is healthy for you.

Over the years a number of claims have been made about the general benefits of tea and the positive influence on our health. A lot of research is conducted on the health benefits of tea. To prove what traditional medicine is doing for centuries. Although the scientific community is sometimes in disagreement over the claims made by practitioners of tradition medicine, there is a general consensus that drinking tea is good for the body.

Historic uses of tea as a medicine

Eastern medicine has long used tea as a cure for almost any ailment. And in the western world the medicinal use of tea and herbal infusions or tisanes have a long history. In the middle ages a wide variety of herbal brews where used as medicine. Over the years these brews and treatments evolved from magic to science. We now know on a moleculair level what the components are that results in the healthy benefits of tea and tisanes. But with modern science and pharmaceutical companies developing medicine it seems that tea as a medicine is no longer in fashion. But make no mistake, in all kinds of cultures around the world tea and tisanes are still being used for it healthy benefits. It’s natures gift to our bodies. Let’s explore a little bit more about nature’s medicine kabinet.

Why is tea healthy for you?

First of all, because of the boiling water that is used to make tea. In areas where the water quality is not good it is a powerful hygiene improvement. Because when you boil water, the bacteria and germs that live in the ware are killed.

Drinking black, green or white tea also brings out the healthy benefits of the camellia sinensis. Herbal infusions, called tisanes, also have a lot of healthy benefits. For more information about Rooibos and herbal teas see “What are the health benefits of tisanes”.

What are the health benefits per type of tea?

Green tea health benefits

Green tea is made with steamed of roasted tea leaves from the camellia sinensis. This unfermented proces results in the fact that green tea have a large dose of an antioxidant called polyphenols. Test showed that the effects of antioxidants are even better then the effects of vitamin C.

Antioxidants are helpful substances that fight free radicals. These free radicals are damaging compounds in the body that damage DNA, change cells and even cause cell death. Many scientists believe that these free radicals contribute to the development of health issues as wel as the aging process. Antioxidants, such as found in green tea, can help prevent or neutralize some of the damage the free radicals cause.

Green tea has also a high concentration of EGCG, short for Epigallocatechin gallate. This is a catechin that falls under the umbrella of polyphenols. This property is the topic of many research on the health benefits of tea.  The antioxidants that are found in green tea appear to:

  • Interfere with the growth of forms of cancer
  • Burn fat
  • Prevent clogging of the arteries
  • Reduce riks of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers’s
  • Counteract oxidative stress on the brain
  • Reduce risk of a stroke
  • Improve cholesterol levels

Green tea is also used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine

It is used as a stimulant to:

  • promote digestion
  • to control bleeding and help heal wounds
  • regulating body temperature
  • improve mental processes
  • regulating blood sugar
  • treating gas in the body
  • help rid the body of excess fluid
  • to detox your body

The university of Maryland has a good resource about the health benefits of green tea. You can read the guide here.

Black tea

Made with fermented tea 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 because the antioxidants reverses the abnormal functioning of blood vessels.

In general black tea has a positive effect for people suffering from these conditions:

Asthma: In general brewed and hot liquids, like tea, bring relief to asthmatic conditions. In light of that fact, it is no surprise that black tea is beneficial for asthmatic patients. Drinking black tea expands the air passage, thereby allowing patients to breathe more easily.

Diarrhea: Due to the presence of tanning in black tea it is believed that it has a healing effect on intestinal disorders. For people to suffer from diarrhea it’s good to sip black tea slowly to calm the bowels.

Digestive Problems: It’s not only good for the bowels but the antioxidants, tannins and catechins have a relaxing effect on the general digestive system of the body. It’s anti-inflammatory affect help with digestion issues.

Improves attention and alertness: A study with a placebo tea versus a black tea resulted in the evidence that black tea increases alertness. It improves auditory, visual and inter-sensory attention. Therefore the conclusion is made that tea is a relevant contributor to our daily cognitive functioning.

High Cholesterol: According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, people who consume black tea can reduce their bad cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is the most known cause for heart attacks and strokes. It has also been found that people who drink 3 to 4 cups of black tea every day are at a lower risk for heart problems than those who consume minimal amounts or no tea at all.

The researchers studied available information on 6,212 adults to determine how tea drinking might be associated with coronary artery calcium progression, a marker for blood vessel disease, and heart attacks, angina (chest pain), cardiac arrest, stroke and death from other types of heart disease. The study followed patients for an average 11.1 years for major cardiovascular events and more than five years to determine changes in coronary artery calcium scores (source American Heart Association).

Want to know more about the health benefits of black tea? In this research document from the US National Library of Medicine and
National Institutes of Health an overview is given about the known health properties.

White tea

White tea is uncured and unfermented. Some studies have indicated that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas. Research from the Pace university proved that white tea destroys microbial organisms that can cause disease in humans. The anti-viral and anti-bacterial effect of white tea is greater than that of green tea. White tea is also good for oral health. Research showed that adding white tea extract to toothpastes has increased the anti-viral and anti-bacterial effect and improved oral hygiene.

Oolong tea

In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. Oolong supports a healthy immune system by preventing damage to cells and promoting the body’s production of anti-bacterial proteins. Oolong tea burns fat faster by heightening the metabolism for up to two hours after drinking it. The beverage also contains polyphenols that are able to prevent the enzymes that build fat from being effective.

Pu-erh tea

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.

What are the health benefits of green tea versus black tea?

Both are good for your body, that is sure. The difference of green tea vs black tea is in the processing of the tea leaves. Leaves that become black tea are oxidized, where tea leaves that become green tea are steamed. This study researched if there was a loss of effectiveness of the antioxidants in the production process. The conclusion was that both black tea as green tea antioxidants are equally effective.

A disclaimer…

This article is not giving you medical advice and if you experience health problems you should always consult a doctor.

In this modern world, where we would like to have everything proved, it is very hard to make scientific claims. Scientist argue with each other about research experiments and outcomes. Health organizations are a afraid to make bold statements in fear of lawsuits. Therefore, we advice you to use your common sense and use your own judgement in what you believe to be true and good for your body or not.

In conclusion, it would appear that there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that a daily consumption of 2-5 cups of tea is great for your overall health and wellbeing.