As the world’s most popular beverage (second to water), tea is drank with a healthy enthusiasm. It’s no secret that tea is healthy. In China, tea has been used for centuries for its medicinal purposes to treat nearly 200 ailments and afflictions.
Black, green and white teas are all derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but are processed differently.
Numerous studies have been done on the health benefits of tea. Drinkers of all three types sing their praises loudly. But which type of tea can claim the title of healthiest tea?
Health Benefits of Black Tea
Black tea accounts for a dominate majority of all tea consumed in the West. Made from fully fermented – or oxidized – leaves, black tea features a rich, robust body and flavour when compared to green and white tea.
While modern studies haven’t been conducted on the full list of 200 ailments the Chinese have historically used tea to treat, numerous studies have all agreed on some important health benefits black tea can provide. Some of these include:
- Reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks – Black tea has been found to improve blood vessel function. In many cases, the positive effects can be noticed after just one cup. By opening up and improving the functionality of blood vessels, the risk of strokes, heart attacks and coronary diseases is reduced.
- Improving cholesterol levels – Black tea has been shown to help block the formation of LDL, the “bad cholesterol” that affects your arteries. Blocking the formation of LDL and helping to keep your cholesterol in check also reduces coronary risks.
- Promoting oral health – While you probably won’t brush with it, drinking black tea can help keep your oral cavity in prime shape. The high concentration of polyphenols in black tea helps kill bacteria and prevent the slimy film that makes it easier for plaque to take hold in your mouth.
- Helping prevent/fight cancer – Those same bacteria-killing polyphenols that keep your mouth feeling clean are anti-oxidants, which have been linked to helping fight and prevent some cancers. Many studies have found a direct link to lower cancer rates among populations that regularly consume tea and laboratory tests have also shown positive results with black tea’s cancer-fighting properties.
- Boosting the immune system – Black tea contains L-theanine, a substance that helps prime the immune system to fight bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections. So the next time you feel a cold or bout with the flu coming on, sipping a cup of black tea may be just what the doctor orders.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
Much has been said about the powerful health benefits of green tea. Because green tea undergoes only partial fermentation, or oxidation, it typically retains a higher level of polyphenols and antioxidants than black tea. Those are the same health-boosting, disease-fighting elements found in all real teas. Because of the higher levels, green tea has been found to provide greater cancer-fighting benefits for certain types of cancer in laboratory animals, but those results are so far inconclusive for humans.
Green tea also shares the ability to help balance out your good and bad cholesterol with black tea.
In addition to those share qualities, green tea is thought to provide some specific health benefits of its own, including:
- Helping fight liver disease.
- Containing anti-inflammatory properties.
- Helping with fat-burning and weight loss.
- Reducing the risk of dying from any cause.
That last claim may seem like a stretch, but it comes from the University of Maryland Medical Center and is good news for green tea drinkers.
Health Benefits of White Tea
White tea is a relatively late-comer to the worldwide tea party. Thought to have originated only within the last couple hundred years, white tea is processed from immature tea leaves with very minimal oxidation. The process preserves higher levels of antioxidants than both green and black teas.
White tea undergoes limited harvest times and is rarer than its colored cousins. It also hasn’t been studied to the levels of green tea. But the prevailing thought is that, due to its higher level of antioxidants, it may be the most potent cancer-fighting tea. It makes sense, but the official jury is still out on that claim. One thing for certain, is that white tea is every bit as healthy as its coloured cousins.
White tea can provide another unique health benefit in addition to the full slate of normal tea benefits.
Anti-aging properties – It may not be the true fountain of youth, but drinking white tea can help with the prevention of wrinkles and help improve overall skin quality, including helping to fight the formation of skin tumors.