Sometimes making small changes in what we eat can have great benefits for our health. One way I have improved what I eat is by adding teas to my daily routine, I try to have at least one cup of tea a day. The challenge can be knowing what teas we should drink, so I thought I would share a little bit about three common teas. Did you know black, green, and white tea all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis? The significant differences of each tea type is developed in the processing of the leaves.
Black Tea is fully oxidized (like when an apple turns brown once the skin is removed). During the oxidation process, enzymes present in the tea convert polyphenols into substances with much less biological activity. It contains relatively high amounts of vitamin C, D, K, and riboflavin; and it contains a good amount of the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sodium, nickel, and fluoride.
- Cardiovascular Disease – it can lower the risk factor
- Asthma – it expands the air passages
- Digestive Problems – tannins produce an anti-inflammatory quality
- High Cholesterol – can reduce bad cholesterol
- Breast Cancer – favorably altering the levels of hormones implicated in breast cancer
Side Effects: can become habit forming because of high caffeine content. Consuming excessive amounts can cause acid issues in the stomach, cause anxiety and difficulty sleeping, faster breathing, headache, increased urination, irregular heart beat, nausea and vomiting, nervousness and restlessness, ringing in the ears, and tremors.
Green Tea is produced by lightly steaming the fresh-cut leaf. This prevents the enzymes from converting the polyphenols, so oxidation does not take place and the polyphenols remain intact. Green tea also contains relatively high amounts of vitamin C, D, K, and riboflavin; and it contains a good amount of the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sodium, nickel, and fluoride. However, it is the polyphenols of green tea that are responsible for its health benefits which are not in black tea.
- Improve Health – it contains powerful antioxidants which can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body. These include flavonoids, catechins, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It can be great for your skin, too. Check out my post about skin health.
- Fat Burning – green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate.
- Lower Risk of Cancer – green tea contains powerful antioxidants that can provide protection from several cancers; these include breast, prostrate, and colorectal, to mention a few.
- Brain Protection – lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease because of the bioactive compounds in green tea.
- Killing Bacteria – the catechins can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses, potentially lowering your risk of infection.
Side Effects: can be similar to that of black tea, but much less so because many of the side effects are due to the caffeine in the black tea. Green tea has significantly less caffeine than black tea.
White Tea is made from the new, unopened buds that are picked and steamed or dried. The resulting tea is pale yellow and low in caffeine, and tastes mild and slightly sweeter than green tea. It goes through less processing than green and black tea which helps in retaining higher levels of phytochemicals than green tea. It’s flavor lacks green tea’s grassy aftertaste and has none of black tea’s tannins.
Health Benefits are comparable to green tea.
Side Effects: can be similar to the other green tea.
Here is the caffeine breakdown of each tea:
Caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of tea:
Black tea – 25 to 110 mg
Green tea – 8 to 30 mg
White tea – 6 to 25 mg
All teas should be consumed in moderation, but especially black tea, as it has the highest caffeine content. Two to four cups daily can have numerous health benefits, but black tea should be limited to no more than four cups per day and preferably before noon. It is best to choose organic teas as there be can a large amount of pesticides on commercial teas.
Which of these teas is your favorite tea?
Murray, M., Pizzorno, J, and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.
Organic Facts. Retrieved from www.organicfacts.net.