From its origin in China, tea has found its way to the palates of millions of people worldwide to become the most popularly consumed beverage in the world, only next to water.
As a refreshing drink to quench your thirst on a sunny day, or a hot mug to keep you warm on a cold day, tea could be taken plain, sweetened, or flavored. It has been consumed for centuries and continues to be taken in its various forms.
Tea is a product of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The chemical composition, botanical variety, mode of production (how it is processed), place of origin, all determine the end product, whether it be black tea, green tea, oolong tea, or white tea.
TYPES OF TEA
Black tea is made with fermented, fully oxidized tea leaves. It contains more caffeine than other types of tea and is the most widely consumed. Flavored tea are all variants of black tea.
The tea leaves are processed in a way that it does not get oxidized. They are the least processed and contain more polyphenols, less caffeine, and produce lighter tea.
Tea leaves used in making white tea are unprocessed and unfermented. They are dried until flaky. White tea is very similar to green tea but has different properties.
This type of tea is neither black nor green, possessing characteristics of both. They are mostly made from partially oxidized camellia leaves that are dried under the sun, curled and frosted.
This is a type of black tea made from old and fermented leaves.
These are made from spices, herbs, fruits, seeds, and roots of plants such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, etc.
All these teas contain different levels of ingredients and are therefore different health benefits.
Health Benefits of Tea
Studies have shown that tea possesses many health benefits being that it is rich in a wide range of flavonoids and polyphenols. The amount of active nutrients contained in a cup depends on the age of the tea, how it is stored, brewed, and served. The longer the seeping time, the more polyphenols released.
Some of the many health benefits of tea are:
Tea is a Great Source of Antioxidants.
When the body breaks down food or is exposed to harmful toxins such as tobacco smoke, fume, or radiation, it produces molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage when they get too much in the body and may cause heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Antioxidants are those substances that protect the cells of the body against free radicals. Tea contains Polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. Polyphenols such as thearubigins, catechins, and theaflavins make up the antioxidants in tea and are effective in detoxifying the cells, thereby reducing risks of contracting diseases.
2. Tea May Lower Blood Sugar.
Consuming excess processed sugar elevates the sugar levels in the body. When your sugar level is too high, Insulin which is produced to convert sugar to energy cannot convert it anymore so the excess sugar is stored as fat. This leads to type 2 diabetes.
Research has it that tea can improve insulin sensitivity, and may also act to protect pancreatic cells and reduce inflammation-causing diabetes.
The study further shows that tea contains anti-diabetic effects. That is to say, the polyphenols in tea such as catechins, flavonols, theaflavins, and thearubigins have the possibility to reduce the risk of diabetes and its complications.
It also protects against diabetes by activating insulin pathways, enhancing insulin action, removing insulin resistance protecting cells, fighting off free radicals, and reducing inflammation.
3. Tea Is Anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to disease-causing agents. Sometimes, the body mistakes its own cells and tissues for intruders and attacks it. When this happens, it causes several chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, arthritis, obesity, and others.
Anti-inflammation is the property of a substance that reduces inflammation. Tea contains such properties which act as anti-inflammatory agents such as epigallocatechin–3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea. EGCG has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, more powerful than vitamin C. This active ingredient acts against a variety of inflammation-related diseases by suppressing the protein causing inflammation.
4. Tea My Help Prevent Cancer as it contains Anti-Cancer Agents.
Regular consumption of tea may reduce the risks of cancer. The polyphenols in tea contain antioxidants and other properties that may help prevent cancer. ECG inhibits the formation of new blood vessels of tumor cells thereby preventing them from becoming cancerous. It also stops blood flow to the tumor and increases normal cell growth, protects against damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. Green tea also activates detoxification enzymes that may help protect against tumor development and formation.
5. Tea Promotes Dental Health.
Tea is a great source of naturally occurring fluoride which acts to protect the enamel and prevent cavity (tooth decay). The antioxidants contained in tea reduces bacterial concentration in the mouth. Green tea helps promote the body’s inflammatory response to oral bacteria, fighting off decay.
6. Tea is Good for the Brain
EGCG found in tea helps protect brain cells against damage. It reduces the production of proteins that forms the plaques that clog the brain, especially in Alzheimer victims. Its antioxidant properties also help prevent brain cell damage. A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that green tea can enhance the brain’s cognitive functions, especially the working memory. It also boosts
7. Tea May Prevent Arthritis
Green tea may help prevent and mitigate the risks of rheumatoid arthritis. The fluoride content in tea not only preserve the dental cavity, but it also preserves bone density, keeping the bones strong. The anti-inflammatory agents in tea also act against inflammation which causes arthritis.
8. Tea Helps Keep Calories Away.
Tea polyphenols increase the number of kilocalories the body uses per time, i.e. it increases calorie expenditure) and reduce body fat. A study found that those who consumed 6 cups of green tea daily over a period of 12 weeks had less body fat and weight than those who did not. Tea also promotes fat oxidation and has thermogenic properties. The caffeine and catechins polyphenols contained in green tea increases fat oxidation.
9. It May Improve Gut Health.
A healthy gut is vital to an individual’s wellbeing. Tea promotes gut health through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 1000Ml (about 4-5 cups) of green tea daily may positively modify gut bacteria.
10. Tea May Be Excellent For Your Heart (Cardiovascular Health)
Consuming tea reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, especially stroke. It slightly lowers bad cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and inhibits blood clotting. Tea is rich in antioxidants, which fight disease-causing free radicals. These antioxidants, reduce oxidative stress, one of the major triggers of heart disease. It also improves blood circulation in the body, widens the arteries, and reduces risks of clots.
Now you understand the many health benefits of tea, grab a cuppa and enjoy . . . Cheers, to your health!!