The benefits of drinking tea are endless
For a lot of us, nothing can or will ever stand in as an adequate substitute for that morning cup of joe. For one thing, there's the caffeine content, and then there's the ritualistic aspect of making (and drinking!) coffee in the morning.
- Its high antioxidant count has been studied by many and praised by many more. Original varieties do contain small amounts of caffeine, which a lot of people favor in the late afternoon over the highly-caffeinated cup of joe, but the green drink has also been found to increase bone mineral density and strength.
- An herbal variety that is said to help with digestion and relieve upset tummies, this caffeine-free variety makes for lovely sipping any time of day, but is particularly useful when consumed following a big meal.
- Also known as red bush, this variety hailing from South Africa is said to have all sorts of benefits. Among them are helping with skin care conditions, stomach problems and depression. It's also pretty delicious with flavors ranging from vanilla, tobacco and almonds.
- Although this floral herbal tea helps relieve indigestion and insomnia and may offer migraine relief, it's recommended that it be consumed in moderation. In addition, its pretty scent and natural oils make it a drink associated with relaxation. Stressed? Steep some dried leaves in hot water for about ten minutes and sip away. (We've even heard it suggested as a powerful aphrodisiac!)
- People love this herbal tea for its many healthful benefits, including helping ease menstrual cramps, soothing stomach pains and relaxing muscles. It is also said to help with skin when used topically.
- Typically made with black tea leaves, Chai tea contains many other herbs and spices (often ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, clove and black pepper) giving it a unique and delicious flavor profile. Apart from drinking it for its yummy taste, chai is a good choice in its immunity-boosting, inflammation-fighting, antioxidant properties.
- The claims surrounding this Chinese tea are huge! It's been said that regular consumption can help lower LDL (the bad cholesterol), lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as promote weight loss.
- This tea is supposedly the least processed and also the highest antioxidant holder. It may lower blood pressure, help maintain strong teeth and bones (due to trace amounts of fluoride) and even promote radiant skin.
- Aside from delivering a good boost of caffeine (of the four basic tea types, black contains the most of the stimulant) WebMD notes that "studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke."
In spite of our nation's coffee obsession, it doesn't mean we can't make room for tea, too. The benefits of drinking tea--be it a mug of rooibos, chamomile or earl gray--are incredibly compelling.
China's long history of tea-drinking led us to reach out to Chinese native Catherine Yin for some additional tips and guidance on imbibing the hot beverage.
Yin, a 27-year-old assistant to the dean of admissions at a school in Shanghai says that one of the draws of tea is its budget-friendly price tag. Although some specialty tea leaves will surprise your wallet, "many are not expensive, so everyone can drink tea," hence making it an easy part of the eastern lifestyle.
Many of us have heard of certain herbal teas' abilities to assist with digestion, but Yin cautions: "It's not good for your stomach to drink tea right after meals. You need to wait about half an hour. Even though tea leaves are very natural, they will add some burden to your stomach for digesting." So before you reach for that mug of peppermint after dinner, wait a little while.
Yin notes that the many different types of tea "all have different purposes," and goes on to say that flower tea is good for beauty and jasmine for the complexion. Purists technically believe that only five types of tea exist (green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-er), with the other existing herbal varieties being derivatives of one of these.
Certain teas are also said to carry other heavy-duty health benefits, which we might be skeptical of: does drinking oolong tea regularly really reduce our risk of diabetes? Does pu'er tea really reduce fat in the stomach, as Yin asserts?
Perhaps these larger claims are best taken with a grain of salt--or a cube of sugar as it were!
We can, however, be less suspicious of tea's mood-enhancing qualities, and would do well to appreciate the fact that tea, if nothing else, is simply satisfying, soothing and makes for good socializing.
For some specific benefits of drinking various types of tea, click through the slideshow above. We bet you'll have the kettle on in no time.
More from Elizabeth Street:
How to Make Coffee Like the Experts
Reese Witherspoon's Delicious Tea Recipe
Combine Caffeine and Exercise for a Stronger Workout