Due to the multiple touted health benefits of tea, many are making the switch from coffee to tea, proclaiming that the latter is superior to the former. While it is true that “tea is one of the mainstays of civilization in [England]” and many other countries, as George Orwell writes in A Nice Cup of Tea, do you know what makes each type of tea different from one another, and how each yield health benefits on the mind and body?
1. White Tea
Source: 1 Million Health Tips
As its name suggests, white tea has the lightest color and flavor of all the teas made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, as the leaves used to make it are merely dried, with no additional processing or oxidation. White tea is harvested primarily in China, but is also produced in Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka.
A study at Kingston University found that white tea’s high anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-collagenase properties can help reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease. In addition, animals that have been given white tea were more resistant to Salmonella due to a stronger immune system.
2. Green Tea
Also made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea has a milder taste than oolong and black tea because it has not undergone the same withering and oxidation process that the other two have. Similar to white tea, 80% of the world’s green tea is produced in China, with others coming from Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Matcha, the tea that is all the hype recently and is a popular flavor in desserts such as ice cream, chocolates, and cheesecake, is a fine ground and expensive green tea used primarily in the Japanese tea ceremony.
In addition to its known antioxidant benefits and efficacy in reducing fibrocystic nodes, green tea has been found to decrease the blood concentration of LDL cholesterol. This is why the daily consumption of green tea has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Drinking green tea also has a calming and relaxing effect, as it contains a natural chemical called theanine, which has the ability to reduce mental and physical stress, as well as improve cognition.
3. Oolong Tea
Oolong tea, which means “black dragon” in Chinese, derives its name from the dark color of the tea and tea leaves. Different styles of oolong tea can vary widely in favor. They can be sweet and fruity, woody and thick and a roasted aroma, or green and fresh, depending on how the tea leaves are processed and produced.
Besides reducing cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and strengthening the immune system, black tea can help prevent tooth decay and osteoporosis by stimulating the retention of minerals from food we consume. The polyphenols in oolong tea not only work as anti-allergenic compounds and help treat eczema, but also control the metabolism of fat in the body. It is believed that by activating the enzymes that enhance the functions of fat cells in the body, polyphenols can help reduce obesity.
4. Black Tea
As a fully oxidized tea, black tea is stronger in flavor than white, green, and oolong teas. While green tea usually loses its flavor within a year, black tea’s flavor can be retained for several years. In China, Japan, and Korea, it is also known as red tea, due to the color of the tea. Black tea is by far the most popular tea in the West, accounting for over 90 percent of all tea sold; many popular English teas, such as Earl Grey tea and English Breakfast tea, are made from black tea.
The Tea Trade Health Research Association has found that black tea reduces plaque formation and restricts bacteria growth in cavities. Regular black tea drinkers have also been found to have stronger bones and a lower risk of developing arthritis. Larsson, in her study “Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa and Risk of Stroke,” states that consumption of black tea may be associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
5. Chamomile Tea
While the first four kinds of tea are all made from the Camellia sinensis plant, chamomile tea is made from dried chamomile, an herb that originates from a blooming plant from the daisy gang. Two types of chamomile are used: the German chamomile and Roman chamomile. The word “chamomile,” which means “earth apple,” is derived from French, Latin, and Greek.
Chamomile tea has long been used to treat inflammation associated with hemorrhoids and stomach ulcer, as well as skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox. Its anti-anxiety properties have also been used to treat stress and insomnia. That being said, chamomile is not safe for everyone; the pollen found in it may cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to ragweed pollen.