“Tea is the elixir of Life.”

-Lao Tzu

For more than thousand years in the East, tea has been known for being key to good health and enhanced mental alertness. Intensive research on tea has shown that some teas, when consumed in its pure state (without sugar, added preservative, cream or milk) may also prevent the human body from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and trigger weight loss, lower cholesterol and more. The health benefits and goodness of tea have grabbed the attention of the West, who are now discovering the positive properties of this beverage. Tea is a natural plant that is rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are bioactive substances that act as antioxidants and fight free radicals in human bodies when ingested.

American Dietetic Association (ADA) representative Katherine Tallmadge in an interview said, “I think it’s a great alternative to excessive coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”

While there are more than 3,000 varieties of teas consumed worldwide, it can be divided into six basic categories: black, dark (including puer), oolong, yellow, green, and white. This article will give you a snapshot of different kind of teas and its health benefits. So, grab a cup of your favourite tea and continue reading this article.

Black

  • Production – It comes from the Camellia sinensis plant and is often blended with other plants for different flavors, like Earl Grey, English breakfast or chai. The traditional method of producing black teas comprises four steps: withering, rolling, oxidizing and drying. The production process of this tea is the lengthiest.
  • Taste – It’s stronger in flavor and aroma. It also contains more caffeine than other teas, but less caffeine than coffee.
  • Brewing Process – This widely (most commonly) consumed tea is easy to prepare. You need hot boiling water and the tea leaves or granules. In most parts of India, the tea leaves are boiled for strength and colour. Additives such as lemon or milk, sugar, and herbs such as clove, cardamom, cinnamon are also added. It gives the tea light brown color, popularly known as chai.
  • Health Benefits – Black tea reduces the risk of stroke, diabetes, obesity, elevated cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The amount of caffeine present in the tea is the perfect as it improves focus without the excessive side effects. However, adding an excess of milk or sugar may be harmful to health.

Dark  (puer)

  • Production – Pu-erh tea is post-fermented. This means Pu-erh tea processing includes both fermentation and then prolonged storage, or “aging,” under high humid conditions.
  • Taste – It often tastes a peculiar blend of bitter, mellow, woody, astringent, sour, and earthy. It can also smell musty or taste stale because mold and bacteria may sometimes reside on the tea during the long aging process.
  • Brewing Process – The leaves are mostly packaged into cake form. Put 1 gram of puer leaves in the tea vessel. Add hot water (medium boiled). Let it seep for some time, generally more than the other types of tea. These leaves expand when in contact with water, so small amount is good enough.
  • Health Benefits – Pu-erh tea prevents the decline in alertness and stimulates thinking process when consumed throughout the day.  It is also good for the heart and overall health. However, more research needs to be done on this type of tea.

Oolong

  • Production – It is a traditionally semi-oxidized tea that originated from China, produced by withering the plant under intense sunlight, oxidation, and roasting.
  • Taste – Taste isn’t as “fresh,” but it has its own sweet and fragrant aftertaste. The shade of the tea can vary from green, yellow and red depending on the processing.
  • Brewing Process – This tea comes in different oxidation levels and leaf shapes, there is no one-size-fits-all method for steeping. One teaspoon of tea can be used for 6 ounces of water. Heat the water to 180°F to 200°F and let the leaves seep in for 2 – 5 min.
  • Health Benefits – It improves heart, brain, bone and dental health. Also, it boosts metabolism, reduces the risk of developing diabetes and protects against certain types of cancer.

Yellow

  • Production – As far as the Chinese legend goes, emperor Shen Nung accidentally discovered this tea in 2737 B.C. when the leaves from a nearby Camellia sinensis tree drifted into his boiling water. Yellow teas typically go through more oxidation than green teas and have a more extended, slower drying period.
  • Taste – delicious, less grassy and silky taste.
  • Brewing – In case you are using a teapot/kettle, then put one teaspoon for each cup (for the ideal taste). Pour hot water onto the leaves in the brew cup (or the teapot) and let the tea seep in for sometimes, preferably 3-4 minutes. But that again depends on taste (some people like it strong and some people only want it for the aroma).
  • Health Benefits – Polyphenols and theanine are chemical components found in this tea. Theanine is an amino acid present in the leaves and helps in reducing anxiety and high blood pressure. Yellow tea also contains vitamins B1, B2, and C which is good for skin, blood purification and boosts the immune system. For maximum benefits, consume it 2-3 times a day but a word of caution, this tea is high in caffeine content.

Green

  • Production – Once harvested from Camellia sinensis plant, the leaves are quickly heated—by pan frying or steaming and dried immediately to prevent excessive oxidation, which might change the original color.
  • Taste – Green tea in its original state has a grassy and bittersweet flavor, but once blended other kinds of stuff it can taste sweet, nutty, vegetal, buttery, floral, swampy, fruity, and oceanic.
  • Brewing Process – Same as oolong tea.
  • Health Benefits – Green tea has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine since ancient times. Therefore, it is the healthiest beverage of all. The tea properties are used to control bleeding and heal wounds, improve digestion, improve heart-related issues, and regulate body temperature. Recent studies in the west have shown green tea can have positive effects on everything from weight loss to liver disorders, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

White

  • Production – White tea is harvested before the tea leaves open completely, the young buds have fine white hair, hence the name “white” tea. These buds and baby leaves from the tea plant are handpicked and meticulously dried, not giving the leaves and buds the chance to oxidize.
  • Taste – Minimal processing and low oxidation give it the most delicate and freshest flavor, among all the other teas.
  • Brewing Process – Use a pinch of the tea to mix it with hot water (not more than 6 or 7 strands). Tea leaves can be added both before and after heating the water.
  • Health Benefits – Polyphenols, a plant -based chemical compound that is present abundantly in white tea, acts like antioxidants inside the body that protects from cell damage, boost immunity, chronic inflammation, purifies skin and prevents premature aging.

Founded in 2013, OurHealthMate (OHM) is a health-tech startup. Their award-winning services are rooted in a three-pronged strategy: Care Planning, Business Intelligence, and Quality Execution. This article is an ode to the beverage (tea) and the makers, which keeps the OHM office active and productive in the crucial hours.

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