If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you. – William Gladstone, Prime Minister to Queen Victoria
Tea is like a wake up alarm. It helps us kick-start our day. A cup of tea early in the morning refreshes and boosts our energies. With a variety of teas available in the market, one can choose the type of tea according to one’s requirement. This popular drink can lower the risk of cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, and stress; it also burns fat and helps one lose weight.
You may be wondering how we can lose weight just by drinking tea? Tea contains caffeine, flavanols, polyphenols, vitamins, and other things that promote fat oxidation. With fat oxidation, excess fat is burnt leading to loss of weight. Though hundreds of teas are available in the market today, there are six basic types of teas.
There are many varieties of herbal teas. Ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea are some of them. Limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas, but it is claimed that herbal tea helps shed pounds, stave off colds, and bring on restful sleep.
As we can see, the different kinds of teas are the result of the level of oxidation or fermentation of the leaves of the tea bush, Camellia sinensis, a shrub native to China and India, containing unique antioxidants called flavonoids.
Now that we have learnt about the benefits of drinking tea, it is also true that if tea is taken in excess quantity it will harm our body. Drinking too much tea can lead to sleep problems. It may also lead to kidney damage due to the oxalates present in tea. However, this is true only in the case of people who drink a lot of tea – more than about four or five cups a day. Although there may be other drawbacks associated with tea, we’re still waiting the verdict on that!
The tea leaves of white tea are less oxidized, because only the youngest leaves of the tea plant are used to make this tea. The tea plants are shaded for a month or so before the leaves are picked. The leaves are uncured and unfermented, which results in a tea that is low in chlorophyll and subsequently high in health promoting catechins. Catechins are natural antioxidants – substances that combat free radicals that cause many diseases. Of all the kinds of tea, white tea is the least popular tea in the west, although in China and other parts of Asia it is considered a delicacy. It requires more hand processing than other types of tea and consequently carries a heftier price tag. It has the most potent anti-cancer properties compared to more processed teas.
The leaves of this tea are fully oxidized, which is why they have a dark colour and brew to a dark liquid. Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for the usual “chai”, some flavoured teas, and instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect the lungs from the damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It may also reduce the risk of stroke.
Oolong tea is also called as the Taiwanese “red tea”. In Japan, it is widely known as the “slimming tea”. It is a semi-oxidized tea. Tea leaves undergo partial oxidation – somewhere between 30% and 80%. A recent study has shown that a 300 ml cup of oolong tea is equal to a fast walk of 15 minutes. It is rich in iron, calcium, and other important minerals. Oolong tea also contains essential properties that aid the digestive enzymes to break down fat substances in the blood. Indeed, this tea is an all-natural weight loss product with no side effects.
This type of tea is sometimes called as “tisane”. Herbal tea is the only tea that is not made from the leaves of the tea bush. It is instead a product of herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots boiled in hot water. Herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. Their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used. It is rich in medicinal properties with zero amount of caffeine in it.
This is another promising tea for weight loss from Yunan. This brick tea is very popular in western China and has been traded for centuries. It can be drunk young or fermented and aged for hundreds of years. It is very expensive to buy from a particular location or in a particular year. The leaves come from wild and old tea trees, so pu-erh tea is not easily available. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Pu-erh tea is a fully fermented tea, and it is unique because through the fermentation process, it can improve the enzyme decomposition functions of fat. In particular, it has proven to inhibit the accumulation of abdominal fat.
This tea undergoes the shortest oxidation period. Oxidation is the natural chemical process that all vegetable matter undergoes. To produce green tea, tea leaves from Camellia sinensis are steamed or fried soon after they are picked in order to stop the oxidation process. It is often referred to as “un-oxidized” or “un-fermented” tea. The antioxidants in green tea reduce the risk of contracting bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. It also prevents clogging of the arteries, burns fat, reduces the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases, and stroke, and improves cholesterol levels.
Compiled by Paulomi Deekonda.