Tea is the second-most consumed liquid in the world, second only to water. Consumers have multiple options in regards to tea, and in return get many health benefits from the beverage. There are two different derivatives, plant and herbal. All plant teas come from the same plant; different flavors are achieved through the different forms of processing. There are green, black, oolong, pu-erh and white teas. Herbal teas come from roots, seeds, flowers and more. Even the method of drinking has become a debate. Some swear by the well-known traditional tea bag. Others have made a full switch over to loose leaf tea. This debate is important, but the most important factor is the tea itself.
Green tea is one of the most well-known, and perhaps the tea with the most added health benefits. Green tea leaves are processed through direct heat, which helps maintain its high amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants help disrupt bladder, liver, pancreatic and breast cancer cells. They help maintain healthy arteries, burn fat cells, reduce stress, lower the possibility of a stroke or high cholesterol and help reduce the risk for neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. However, there was a study that showed that white tea had more success with potential cancer prevention. This could be because white tea is the least processed of all the teas.
Black tea is a healthy alternative to coffee. While still caffeinated, the amount of caffeine in black tea is enough to heighten blood flow and mental sharpness without overstimulating the body. Even if sweetened, black tea is unlikely to come close to the sugar content in an energy drink or some coffee beverages. It is gentle on the body and easy to process. Some studies have conclusive evidence that black tea can help with stroke prevention and lung health. Animal studies show that pu-erhs and oolongs can help achieve weight loss and lower cholesterol.
The most traditional way to drink tea is with a bag that steeps the flavor into the water. Now the consumer consciousness is shifting to loose leaf tea. One reason for this could be that the tea in tea bags comes from broken tea leaves. These can lose essential oils, and are considered lacking in quality. Loose leaf tea allows the leaves to fully expand, releasing all their properties. Though bagged tea still sells well, many consumers find the bags with the string and tag to be wasteful.
Loose leaf tea used to require a teapot with a large strainer to allow the tea leaves more room. Many of these were bulky and expensive, but as loose tea became more popular, more technology came with it. Now tea stores and websites carry biodegradable large tea bags that the consumer can fill at home, and travel-friendly strainers that can be used in any cup or travel mug. No matter the preferred method, drinking any form of tea will help the body, even if only for stress relief, calming properties or a good night’s sleep.