Different Types Of Tea And Their Health Benefits

Apart from being delicious, tea is also high on the health quotient. Let’s have a look at the different types of tea, their health benefits as well as side effects.

By Ashwin Dewan

Different Types Of Tea And Their Health Benefits
“There is nothing quite like a freshly brewed pot of tea to get you going in the morning” - Phyllis Logan, actress

Tea is one of the most popular beverages in this world. And, with good reason too! Be it as a rejuvenating drink, a refreshing flavor, a boost to the spirits or a weight loss tonic – tea has a little something for everyone.

Especially in your parenting journey, when your anxiety levels hit the roof or you don’t have the time to follow a fitness regimen to lose weight, sip the right tea that helps you through your day.

Let us look at some everyday instances wherein people have discovered the health benefits of tea in its various avatars.

Case #1: Vineet Sharma, a copy editor at a leading news website, who lives in New Delhi, says tea contributed in a major way to his weight loss goals. “Initially, I doubted the claims that tea, especially green tea could help maintain and reduce weight. However, regular consumption of green tea, combined with a rigorous exercise regimen and a planned diet, helped me lose a few kilos. I feel fitter and lighter today,” says Vineet.

Case #2: Prerna Rai, a flight attendant, who lives in Calcutta, used to suffer from anxiety issues, but now that seems to be a thing of the past, and she thanks chamomile tea for it. After her friend urged her to try it, Prerna eventually began to consume chamomile tea, which is known for its properties to decrease anxiety. Although the tea has not helped cure Prerna’s anxiety completely, it has brought it down to a great extent.

Where does tea come from?

Tea comes from an evergreen shrub called Camellia Sinensis, which is native to East and South Asia. There are four main types of tea – white tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea – in the order of least oxidised to heavily oxidised.

The difference among the varieties of tea lies purely in the degree to which the tea leaves are oxidised or fermented. In fact, the amount of time the tea leaves are processed determines whether you end up with green, black, white or oolong tea. So, that’s how they differ!

Other well-liked types of tea flavors include chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, rooibos, etc., which are types of herbal tea. They are specially brewed from dried herbs, spices, fruits and flowers.

Studies support the health benefits of tea and its advantages

A research study titled, ‘Black tea may help with weight loss, too’, was carried out by the UCLA (University of California – Los Angeles) and published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2017. It claims that black tea, like the green variety, may contribute to good health and weight loss in humans. The study found that both black and green tea changed the ratio of intestinal bacteria, i.e. while the percentage of bacteria associated with obesity decreased, the bacteria associated with lean body mass increased.

Jiten Rawat, a qualified tea taster from Darjeeling, swears by the health benefits of tea, especially green and black tea. 

He shares, “Green tea is yet to become popular among most tea drinkers, and black tea continues to reign. But, people are slowly becoming aware of the health benefits of different types of tea and are including this beverage in their diet on a regular basis. However, when it comes to me, I personally prefer the chamomile tea because it helps me relax after a hard day’s work and enables me to sleep better."

So, why is tea so good? Well, tea is rich in unique polyphenolic compounds (polyphenols are a group of naturally-occurring micro-nutrients and antioxidants found mostly in plants) that have been proved to improve physical wellness and mental alertness. These antioxidants play an active role in fighting diseases and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. 

Let’s examine the different types of tea and their health benefits

1. Green tea

Today, green tea has become a favourite for its many health benefits, among teens and adults alike. It is rich in health-promoting antioxidants that boost your mood.

Benefits:

  • Helps burn fat and lowers blood pressure
  • Prevents clogging of the arteries
  • Plays a key role in restricting the growth of lung, stomach and pancreatic cancer
  • Reduces the risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases

Side effects: One should keep a limit on the amount of green tea consumed per day. Patients suffering from liver, kidney or heart problems, or pregnant women must consult their doctor first, before drinking green tea. This is because green tea contains traces of caffeine, which may cause stomach problems, sleep issues, irregular heartbeats and headache.

2. Black tea

Of all the varieties of tea, black tea has the highest content of caffeine, which increases mental alertness and may reduce the damage caused to the lungs by cigarette smoking.

Benefits: 

  •  Contains vitamins and antioxidants that protect the heart and lungs
  •   Improves gastrointestinal health
  •   Prevents tooth decay

Side effects: Since black tea contains a high amount of caffeine, it is not advisable to have too much of it on a daily basis. This may result in difficulty in sleeping, headaches, nervousness and heartburn.

3. White tea

Compared to other varieties, white tea has a light taste. It is dried in the sun and minimally processed; so, it has a slightly higher antioxidant content than other varieties of tea. It also has the lowest caffeine content among various types.

Benefits: 
  • Strengthens the heart
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Has anti-cancer properties

Side effects: Consuming high amounts of white tea may affect the body’s absorption of iron.

4. Oolong tea 

This tea is a semi-oxidised variant from Camellia Sinensis. Oolong tea also contains a high number of polyphenols.

Benefits:

  • Brings about mental alertness
  • Prevents tooth decay
  • Helps fight obesity
  • Enhances digestion
  • May prevent cancer and heart disease

Side effects: Taking oolong tea for prolonged periods may increase the risk of developing diabetes.

5. Chamomile tea

It is considered by many to be one of the most popular types of herbal tea for its calming abilities and distinct taste. This tea is made using the dried chamomile flowers, native to Asia, Europe and North America. It contains Chamazulene, which is a chemical compound rich in anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Benefits: 

  • Fights cold and sore throats
  • Prevents acne 
  • Aids sleep and digestion
  • Stabilises blood sugar 
  • Hastens wound healing
  • Improves heart health 

Side effects: Intake of chamomile tea should be limited, for it may cause nausea and vomiting. It is better that pregnant women avoid drinking chamomile tea because it contains traces of caffeine, which is not advisable during pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, the body will find it increasingly difficult to break down caffeine. Also, too much caffeine content in the body can cause heartburn.

6. Rooibos tea

Want an alternative to green or black tea? Try rooibos tea. A caffeine-free herbal drink, rooibos tea provides many health benefits and acts as a rich source of dietary antioxidants. Rooibos tea comes from a family of plants called Fabaceae that grow in South Africa.

Benefits:
  • Improves bone health
  • Protects the heart by raising the levels of good cholesterol
  • Reduces stress levels and helps relieve stomach discomfort
  • Protects against cancer, heart disease and stroke

Side effects: Large amounts of rooibos tea may increase the activity of liver enzymes leading to liver problems.

7. Hibiscus tea

Renowned across the world for its medicinal properties, hibiscus tea is low in calories and is caffeine-free. It is made from the dried parts of the hibiscus plant and is distinguished by its cranberry-like flavor.

Benefits:

  • May lower blood pressure 
  • Aids weight loss 
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Is a good remedy for nausea and vomiting

Side effects: Drinking too much of hibiscus tea may result in an upset stomach, constipation, headache and gas.

8. Peppermint tea

A cup of peppermint tea has many health benefits. It is sometimes known as the stomach healer tea because of its cooling properties. It is made from peppermint leaves and is one of the healthiest herbal infusions.

Benefits:

  • Soothes an upset stomach 
  • Treats menstrual cramps 
  • Reduces bad breath 
  • Relieves headaches 
  • Strengthens the immune system

Side effects: Large amounts of peppermint tea may cause heartburn and headache.

Drinking tea has a calming and refreshing effect on us. Today, many are turning to different types of non-herbal and herbal tea for the various health benefits they offer. Make a cup or two of tea a part of your daily ritual to reap the many benefits.

About the Expert:

Reviewed by Priya Kathpal on 21 December 2018

Nutritionist Priya Kathpal has a Master’s degree in Dietary Food Service Management with a PG Diploma in Dietetics, Bsc Applied Nutrition and is also a certified sports nutritionist. With over 10 years of experience in fitness industry she has been involved in clinical and sports nutrition consultations in corporate, gym, fitness centres, clinic set up and R&D team of sports nutrition products.

About the author:

Written by Ashwin Dewan on 15 December 2018; updated on 24 September 2019

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