Are you as confused as I am when it comes to all those teas out there and their health benefits? I want to drink tea to help my immune system, boost the antioxidants, help promote loss of belly fat and all of the other health benefits tea may provide.
Honestly I can’t keep it all straight! I read about the different types of teas, how they’re made and the benefits and by the time I’m done my head is spinning and I just give up trying to keep track of which tea does what. Adding to the confusion, herbal teas, have a variety of benefits. Ohhh my spinning head!
Do you feel like that at times?
I am going to help you understand some basic differences between some very common teas. Read to the end for a sneak peek at the next related post. Hint: Drink made with leaves, roots or flowers that has NO caffeine and some amazing bonus health benefits.
All Teas Have These Benefits
All tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant except herbal teas. They also all have polyphenols called catechins and epicatechins. Polyphenols act as antioxidants by protecting cells from being damaged by free radicals. Breaking down polyphenols further, they contain catechins. Catechins I’ll get to under the types of teas.
Right now I want to talk about free radicals.
Oxygen cells in our bodies split into single atoms which has unpaired electrons. These single atoms of oxygen with unpaired electrons are free radicals. Free radicals, as they search for other electrons to create pairs, cause damage to cells, proteins and DNA. Free radicals are associated with diseases such as cancer, Parkinsons, Alzheimers and more.
All teas fight against damage from free radicals from the polyphenols they contain.
Teas hold different amounts of polyphenols based on how they are prepared. There are a few other benefits as well based on the type of tea. Let’s look at those now.
White Tea – How it’s Made and Benefits
White tea is the least processed tea. This means it has the least amount of caffeine and the most antioxidants to help fight free radicals. In fact, white tea has three times the amount of polyphenols than green tea does.
It is made from new, unopened buds and very young leaves of the camellia sinesis plant. The unopened buds and very young leaves often times have the fine white hair on them qualifying them as “white” tea. Some define white tea from the type of Camellia Sinensis plant used and not the fine white hair found on the buds and young leaves.
To prepare the white tea for drinking the leaves and buds are dried. Some preparers dry them in controlled conditions, others prefer to use natural sun light. That’s it, although some preparers often steam or warm them slightly to prevent oxidation.
If you’re looking for that morning caffeine boost white tea may not be your first choice. It only contains between 30 – 55 milligrams of caffeine per cup compared to coffee at 90-95 milligrams per cup. Now if you’re looking for a low calorie drink that may help you lose weight then you’re on to something. White tea in combination with proper diet and exercise has been noted to help as a weight loss aid.
The high amount of catechins, a type of polyphenols, are the reason white tea may help to better support your circulatory system, cholesterol levels, natural anti-inflammatory abilities, brain health, and antimicrobials.
AND catechins may help support gut health by acting as probiotics or the “good” bacteria.
Popular types of white teas include Fujian Silver Needle, and Bai Mu Dan.
Green Tea – How it’s Made and Benefits
Green Tea is a little more processed than white tea. It is made by steaming and scalding tea leaves for several minutes. The name “green” tea comes from the color of the leaves to stop oxidation, or what we refer to as turning brown. The leaves remain green after the steaming.
Like white tea, since green tea is not processed much it retains more polyphenols especially EGCG. EGCG is a powerful antioxidant with potential health benefits including helping to get rid of that stubborn belly fat.
For more information about green tea and losing stubborn belly fat, please read my blog post What Helps You Lose Belly Fat Fast? In the blog I also have links to scientific studies regarding the benefits. Check it out!
In addition to weight loss, green tea has similar other benefits such as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps brain function. It is also lower in calories and contains about 20 – 45 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
Here’s something that green tea has that white does not – L-thianine. L-thianine is an amino acid which promotes relaxation without making you drowsy. It works by boosting the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. That’s fantastic and I’ll remember that next time I find myself wound up about something.
Black Tea – How It’s Made and Benefits
Black tea is made from the 4th and 5th leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant so it is less aromatic. That does not make it any less beneficial then its brethren white and green teas. Black tea is also full of antioxidants and like green tea contains L-thianine to promote relaxation. Here is where it differs – it is oxidized. And because it is oxidized, it is rich in vitamins C and E.
Darjeeling black tea is known to be rich in theaflavin and thearubigin. They are polyphenols, but are released through oxidation. Theaflavin is what gives the red color to black tea and is known to help as an anti cholesterol, anti diabetic and has been found to prevent lifestyle related disease prevention. They are pretty amazing and you can read more about a study was done called Synthesis of Theaflavins and their Functions.
Thearubigins benefit the body by helping to lessen the effects of coughs and colds, and providing anti-inflammatory effects that may benefit illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome. This study, Molecular evidence of health benefits of drinking black tea speaks more about thearubigins.
Oolong, goes through the same process as black tea, but it is only oxidized for half the time.
Ready for the sneak peek for an upcoming post? Did you guess from the hint above that I was talking about writing a post on herbal teas? I know my hint was pretty revealing, but honestly you don’t want to miss the herbal tea post. It will be filled with more basics of herbal teas to help lessen that confusion over which one is supposed to do what. Plus, I’ll have a surprise bonus for you. One that will never let you forget which teas are beneficial for what.
Leave me a comment below and let me know your favorite tea!