As the second most consumed beverage worldwide after water, the elixir at the centre of various social gatherings and ceremonies in many cultures—including that of our neighbours across the pond—and a perennial favourite to keep warm during the colder months, tea is a drink steeped (pun intended!) in history and tradition. And while we enjoy this unique brew for its flavour and soothing quality, tea, derived from the Camellia sinensis plant and originally consumed by the Chinese for its medicinal properties during the Shang Dynasty, indeed does the body good.Rich in vitamins, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates and antioxidants called flavonoids, including catechins, studies have shown that tea reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and several forms of cancer, including colon, lung, breast and skin cancers. But the health benefits don’t stop there. Below is a run down of five popular teas and the common ailments they remedy. To enjoy its full medicinal benefits, be sure to steep your tea of choice for 3-5 minutes before consuming to make sure it retains most of its catechins.
1. Green tea
Since it is largely unprocessed, green tea boasts the highest concentration of catechins (antioxidants). This particular brew is known to lower bad cholesterol and promote cell growth. If you’re looking to relax after a particularly stressful day, sipping on green tea will do the trick, thanks to the chemical theanine, which has a calming effect.
2. Black tea
While black tea is also derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, unlike green tea, the leaves are oxidized, which accounts for the dark-brown colour of this brew. Drinking black tea may lower your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. In addition to that, since it boasts a lot of caffeine, a cup of black tea in the morning is the perfect pick-me-up, complete with a full dose of energy and alertness. But most appealing is this beverage’s ability to boost sluggish metabolisms and aid digestion thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Oolong tea
Since its leaves are only partially oxidized, this tea falls somewhere between green and black teas on the spectrum. However, boasting qualities from both brews, oolong tea provides double the benefits. While it lowers the risk of the usual suspects—heart disease, high cholesterol and inflammatory diseases—drinking oolong tea on a regular basis also helps manage weight, improves the appearance of the skin (particularly for eczema sufferers), ensures bone health and helps manage stress, all thanks to the polyphenol compound contained therein. A word of caution: this tea is high in caffeine, which comes with its a slew of side effects, hence make sure to monitor how your body reacts to a daily regimen of oolong tea before you fully commit
4. Dandelion tea
Gardeners and farmers hate this noxious weed, but as it turns out, the dandelion plant is a very effective diuretic. Dandelion tea is known to stimulate the digestive system and help with liver problems by detoxifying it. As for those pesky, downright intrusive hot flashes come menopause? It successfully lessens those, too!
5. Chamomile tea
This popular brew is a well-known sleep aid and one cup daily of this calming beverage over the course of a few months can help soothe a sore stomach. But did you know that chamomile tea can also do wonders for puffy eyes? Not only that, but this herbal drink also acts as an antibacterial mouthwash! While the benefits are many, allergy sufferers be warned: chamomile is a relative of ragweed.