Tea Guide - The Four Staples and Their Benefits
What Type of Tea is Right for Me?
By Doralise Halepis, Nutrition Student
The tea industry is one worth 20 billion dollars. Gone are the days when a ‘cuppa’ meant a plain black tea with a little bit of milk. Tea shops have popped up all around town, stocking 100’s of teas in different varieties, flavours and promises. Marketers have jumped on board to quickly promote teas with ‘scientific benefits’, teas that make you skinny and teas that stop food cravings; leaving you wondering how a few tea leaves soaked in water could possibly improve your health.
This tea has been drunk for thousands of years, with many people believing in its ‘healing’ properties. Whilst recent scientific studies have not found that green tea has ‘healing’ power, evidence suggests that it has the ability to prevent certain cancers, increase mental alertness (this may be from the caffeine content) and protect the skin from sun damage. Caffeine is very effective in increasing metabolism speed, which offers explanation as to why weight loss is associated with green tea.
Black tea is essentially green tea that has been fermented for a deeper, richer flavour. Like green tea, it can certainly offer many health benefits, like providing antioxidants to the body, lowering blood glucose levels in diabetics and can potentially combat inflammation in the body.
Yet another emerging tea on the market, white tea is grown predominantly in China and in some parts of India. It is quite rare as it can only be picked a few days a year prior to ripening into green tea. White tea actually contains a higher amount of antioxidants than green tea and contains less caffeine, which is great for those not concerned about weight loss. When choosing white tea it is best to choose an organic variety as pesticides are very easily absorbed into this tea.
Red tea, also known as Rooibos tea, is a calming, caffeine-free tea grown in Africa. Drinking a significant amount of this tea can potentially improve cardiovascular health, especially to those at risk of cardiovascular issues. This tea also has the ability to soothe the stomach, which is great for those with food intolerances and digestive issues.
These ‘teatox’ diets are becoming more and more common, promising effects of rapid and sustained weight loss. The ingredients of ‘teatox’ teas generally consist of a mixture of common herbal teas, all backed up by scientific evidence that they assist in weight loss and appetite supressing. The problem with these studies is that the effects were very minimal when participants were drinking a litre of these herbal teas a day for months on end, twice the amount recommended by ‘teatox’ programs. ‘Teatox’ diets encourage healthy eating, avoiding foods containing fats, sugar and additives, physical activity, 8 hours of sleep and 2 litres of water a day. The healthy lifestyle suggested by these companies is more likely the reason for sustained weight loss.