Tea is one of the most valued and widely consumed drinks in the world. Besides being a delicious, inexpensive beverage that has no calories, tea has a unique set of natural chemicals that provide various therapeutic benefits. As more research is conducted, tea, specifically black and green, demonstrates significant antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticavity properties.
The health effects of tea have been examined ever since the first infusions of Camellia sinensis about 4700 years ago in China. The legendary emperor Shennong claimed in The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic that Camellia sinensis infusions were useful for treating conditions including tumors, abscesses, bladder ailments, and lethargyIt has just emerged that American doctors have developed a cream to ward off skin cancer. The magic ingredient is green tea, which is well known for its cancer-fighting properties.
Natural antioxidants called polyphenols in the tea help block the growth of skin cancer cells.
Tea is considered the most consumed beverage in the world behind water, however 78% of the tea consumed worldwide is black and only about 20% is green. All types of tea except herbal tea are brewed from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. The level of oxidation of the leaves determines the type of tea.
Green tea is made from un-oxidized leaves and is the least processed type of tea and therefore contains the most antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols.
Green tea was used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to control bleeding and heal wounds, aid digestion, improve heart and mental health and regulate body temperature.4 Recent studies have shown green tea can potentially have positive effects on everything from weight loss to liver disorders to type 2 diabetes.
Before you run off to start guzzling tea, there are a few things you should know:
- Regular tea has been shown in some research to be more beneficial than decaffeinated tea.
- Brewed tea contains more beneficial properties than instant.
- Tea bags contain the same beneficial properties as loose leaf tea.
- For full health benefits, brew tea for at least 3 minutes.
The health benefits in tea degrade over time, it is best to drink freshly brewed tea that is hot (but not scalding).
Caffeine may have adverse effects when combined with medications; speak to a qualified health care provider or pharmacist if you take any medications or supplements.
Green tea is considered one of the world’s healthiest drinks and contains the highest amount 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.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most studied and bioactive polyphenol in tea and has been shown to be the most effective at eliminating free radicals.