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Tea to a T

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A Hot OpportuniTEA

Tea is the second-most-consumed beverage in the world, bested only by water, so it’s no wonder this multifaceted favorite gets an entire month dedicated to its celebration. January is National Hot Tea Month, and we are going to help you drink in the fun. Grab a blanket and your favorite hot brew, and cozy up to some tea-rific facts.

Tea is the second-most-consumed beverage in the world

First, let’s start by talking about some types of teas and their benefits. We are sure you’ve seen all kinds of tea options out there; however, tea aficionados believe only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea to be the real deal, because they all come from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, aka the tea bush. This shrub can be found in China and India and is bursting with antioxidants known as flavonoids. Although they all come from the same plant, the various teas are made by using different processes. Let’s take a closer look.

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Tea purists consider only five types to be true teas: black, green, white, oolong and pu-erh.

Green tea: Bright and springy, green tea is made with steamed tea leaves and is rich in EGCG, a potent antioxidant that may help fight free radicals that lead to heart disease, cancer and more.

White tea: Named for its white down-covered leaves, white tea is minimally processed, which means it’s high in those flavonoids we mentioned as well as other polyphenols, like catechins. These are good for your memory, skin and more.

Black tea: As the basis of teas like chai, black tea is the most popular tea in America. It also boasts the most caffeine. Although it is made from fermented tea leaves, which lowers the polyphenol level, black tea is still an antioxidant powerhouse.  

Oolong tea: While black tea is fully fermented (hence its dark, rich hue), oolong tea is only partially fermented, so it usually comes across a bit lighter. The antioxidants found in oolong tea have been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels and even reduce the risk of heart disease.

Pu-erh tea: Grown in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, pu-erh tea is post-fermented, which means it is fermented and then aged under high humidity, giving it an earthy and complex flavor. Pu-erh has also shown to have a variety of health benefits, including promoting bone and heart health.

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While “real teas” are brewed from only leaves, herbal teas can be made by steeping the leaves, flowers, stems, roots, bark or rhizomes of certain herbs.

Tea purists may not consider “other” teas, like chamomile and hibiscus, to be true teas; however, at Taking On Healthy, we are equal-opportunity tea drinkers. Other varieties may not be loaded with as many antioxidants as the previously mentioned brews, but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer potential health benefits. Here are some other popular flavors to consider this National Hot Tea Month.

Hibiscus: This herbal tea boasts a cranberry-like flavor and is made by steeping parts of the hibiscus plant in boiling water. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure and decrease bad cholesterol levels.

Peppermint: The pleasing flavor of peppermint is good for more than gum and breath mints. The peppermint extract in peppermint tea may help ease digestive issues, including bloating, gas and indigestion.

Chamomile: You may think of chamomile as just a way to help you drift off to dreamland; however, the antioxidant apigenin may also help lower inflammation and fight cancer cells.

Tea Times

Can certain teas benefit you at different times of the day? Yes! See our handy infographic below for suggestions on when to enjoy a variety of teas.

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As you can tell, there is a big world of tea out there. We hope this gave you the inspiration you need to keep exploring the varieties and potential health benefits available to you!

Different teas contain different amounts of caffeine and other elements. Check to make sure your tea of choice and its elements are safe for your personal health condition.