Tea, or chai, as we are used to calling it, is probably something that runs the mechanism of every Indian. It is the first thing that is thought of in the morning, and the caffeine fix from the ‘subah ki chai’ is what makes us sail through the day.
Consumed by more than half of the planet’s population, it helps you abate your appetite and focus on the task at hand. It is an accompaniment of all the possible snacks, be it samosas or pakoras.
Tea comes from the leaves of a tree called Camellia sinensis and has more benefits than you can count. The types of this beverage and their advantage to our health are indeed something worth knowing.
1. Black tea
It is more oxidized than the other types of teas, and has a stronger flavor. It is also used as a currency, since it retains the same form (and flavor) through the years.
In some countries, it is commonly referred to as ‘red tea’, because of the color it gets when it is finally prepared. Unilever is the largest producer of this type of tea.
It has numerous health benefits. These are:
- It contains flavonoids, a good source of antioxidants.
- It helps prevent type 2 diabetes.
- It can help reduce the risk of heart diseases also.
2. White tea
White tea is a lightly oxidized tea grown and harvested primarily in China. The name “white tea” derives from the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant, which gives the plant a whitish appearance.
However, when tea is prepared from these leaves, it has a yellow sheen. The benefits of this type of tea are immense, some of them being:
- It helps prevent cancer. Flavonoids found in this type of tea, inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the development of new ones.
- It helps maintain the blood pressure.
- Catechins, another group of antioxidants, have been found to reduce cholesterol, and white tea has them in abundance.
- It helps make bones and teeth stronger.
3. Oolong tea
It is a type of tea specific to China. In Chinese tea culture, semi-oxidised oolong teas are collectively grouped as ‘qīngchá’.
The taste of oolong varies widely among different subvarieties. Oolong tea literally means ‘The Black Dragon’. Oolong tea has a great taste and can be consumed either hot or cold.
The advantages of this type of tea are:
- Since it contains significantly smaller amounts of caffeine when compared to the other varieties, it is considered to be a suitable option for those who are sensitive to caffeine.
- Polyphenols found in oolong leaves eradicate the free radicals from our body, thereby slowing down the aging process.
- Drinking oolong tea during the day helps to maintain focus and improves mental agility. It is a great stress buster.
- It prevents hair loss, promotes healthier hair.
4. Green tea
Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea originated in China.
The awareness regarding the positive aspects of green tree consumption has increased over the past few years, making it very popular. It does not retain its original flavor for more than a year.
Different regions have their own versions of green tea, by changing the proportion of the ingredients, but essentially it remains the same. Green tea is available bottled and sweetened with sugar or an artificial sweetener, in single tea bags, loose-leaf, and in instant-powder.
Some of the much raved about benefits of this type of tea are:
- Green tea contains one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any tea. The natural chemicals called polyphenols in tea are what are thought to provide its anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects.
- It may lead to weight loss, however miniscule, and that is something we all strive to achieve!
- Although not yet affirmed, polyphenols in green tea, are believed ro reduce tumor growth, and hence the risk of cancer.
5. Chamomile tea
Chamomile is a daisy like herb, used in concoctions to reduce sleep. Chamomile tea is a type of herbal tea that has been consumed since a long time.
Tea, when brewed with this herb, has a plethora of benefits to the health.
- It is known to reduce anxiety and induce sleep. A perfectly natural cure to insomnia, it eliminates the need for sedatives.
- It is great for the immune system.
- Chamomile can soothe insect bites, chicken pox, wounds, burns, bruises, sunburns, rashes, and itchy or inflamed skin, and it is also a popular remedy for stopping the growth of ulcers.
- It is again, a good source of anti-oxidants.
Tea leaves might not help you help you predict your future, like was taught by Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter, but they might just elongate it, thanks to the health benefits they come with!