The days are getting shorter and the air crispier, which means that we all get to enjoy our favorite hot beverages once again. If you’re a coffee fiend or a PSL enthusiast, we have great news for you: there’s yet another drink you can add to your fall beverage lineup — tea! From green tea to black tea and herbal concoctions, tea can do a lot more than warm up your insides — it heals and protects you against a range of ailments and diseases.
Native to China and India, the Camellia sinensis plant (from which tea is made) has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Tea is said to improve mental alertness, reduce headaches and digestive issues, as well as aid in weight loss. And that’s only a small part of what consuming tea on the regular can do for you!
So dust off your favorite teapot (or borrow one from your grandma), invest in some quality leaves, and start sipping away because health gains are truly everyone’s cup of tea!
The Benefits of Tea Leaves
Source: Breville USA/Flickr
As you know, there are many types of tea out there. However, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea all come from the same plant — Camellia sinensis. The difference resides in the processing of the leaves — green tea is made with lightly steamed fresh leaves, while black tea and oolong are comprised of oxidized or fermented leaves. This technique gives each tea its unique flavor and range of benefits.
Green tea, the least processed kind of the bunch, contains higher amounts of ECGC, a potent type of antioxidant. This bioactive chemical also referred to as ‘tea catechin’ is classified as a flavonoid. These flavonoids present in fresh tea leaves are powerful polyphenols responsible for fighting against free radicals in our bodies. Black tea and oolong tea, also contain EGCGs, although in lesser amounts. However, they gain antioxidants through the oxidation process their leaves go through. Namely, they are full of theaflavins and other catechins. All of these compounds have many beneficial effects when it comes to preventing diseases and keeping our immune systems strong.
Here are a few of the main ones:
1. Preventing Cancer
Source: A Girl With Tea/Flickr
Green tea leaves are packed with polyphenols, whose antioxidant activity in the body has been shown to positively impact cancer treatment. EGCG — one of the polyphenol compounds — decreases tumoral growth in colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and bladder cancer to name a few.
Black tea contains catechins and theaflavins which are also types of polyphenols that have been shown to play a part in preventing cancers. These compounds are said to reduce the presence of 17β-estradiol, thus reducing hormone-related cancer risk in women. Consuming black tea regularly can prevent the incidence of prostate, ovarian, and rectal cancer as well.
Not to be outdone, oolong tea also has immense anti-cancer benefits due to the theasinensins present in its leaves. These flavonoid types of antioxidants have a greater anti-inflammatory effect compared to those found in black and green tea. Consequently, drinking oolong tea can protect you against cancers caused by inflammation, such as liver, bladder, and gastric cancer.
2. Fighting Against Cardiovascular disease
EGCG — epigallocatechin gallate (the polyphenols in tea leaves) — antioxidant action has been linked with a reduction in atherosclerosis, cardiac hypertrophy, myocardial infarction, and diabetes, all of which are precursors of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, it has been found that the consumption of polyphenols is more impactful in preventing cardiovascular disease in post-menopausal women than the overall amount of antioxidants in the diet.
Flavonoids found in rooibos tea also play a part in preventing heart disease. The compounds reduce oxidative stress that leads to chronic hyperglycemia in diabetic patients. This diabetes-related complication is one that often brings about myocardial infarction.
Last but not least, sipping on tea improves endothelial function and can alleviate lipid metabolism disorders. Time to pour yourself a cup — don’t you think?
3. Reduce Risks of Dementia
Source: Laura D’Alessandro/Flickr
Polyphenols found in green tea may help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that is one of the most common forms of dementia affecting the aging population today. More specifically, EGCGs are of interest because of their protective effects against neuronal damage and brain edema. Interestingly, green tea was also found to improve brain connectivity and working memory — possibly by inducing short-term plasticity in the connection between certain brain parts. How amazing is that?
Overall, having a cup of green tea a day is a good way to help preserve your cognitive abilities since its regular consumption has been linked with a significantly lower risk of dementia and mild cognitive decline.
Be it green, black, oolong, or herbal, getting in the habit of pouring yourself a cup of steaming tea this fall is sure to improve your life in more ways than one. Let us know what your personal favorite is!
- Ultimate Guide to Herbs and Teas
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- 10 Plant-Based Adaptogenic Teas to Reduce Stress and Provide Calm
- How to Make Your Own Herbal Teas at Home
Recommended Resources and Recipes to Get You Started
Want to find more info on health-boosting beverages and recipes? Here are a few articles that might interest you:
- How to Use Tea as an Ingredient When Cooking
- Matcha Green Tea: A Superfood to Supercharge You!
- Tea-rrific! How to Use Tea to Clear Your Skin
- 5 Herbal Teas That Benefit the Body and Spirit
- Sweet Breads That Are Perfect for Tea Time
- How to Make Turmeric Tea: It’s Easier Than You Think!
- 6 Homemade Teas to Match Your Mood
- How to Use Green Tea to Heal the Body
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