Tea was first discovered in China about 5000 years ago, and has long been recognized for its health benefits. It is a popular drink in the United States, and according to the Tea Association of the USA, 79 billion servings of tea are consumed annually. There are many varieties of tea. Black, Green, Oolong and White teas all come from the same plant, an evergreen named Camellia sinensis. The differences between the different types of tea result from processing and oxidation. After the leaves are picked, the leaves begin to oxidize, and this process is stopped when the tea leaves are heated and dried. The longer the tea is oxidized, the darker it is in strength and color. Black tea is oxidized for up to 4 hours and Oolong tea for 2-3 hours. Green and white teas are not oxidized.
Studies have shown that drinking tea is associated with many health benefits. The strongest evidence suggests that it helps to improve heart health. Tea is high in antioxidants and flavonoids, which help to reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, reduce blood clotting, and improve the widening of the blood vessels in the heart. Black tea, in particular, is associated with a decreased incidence of heart attack and stroke, lower cholesterol levels, and significantly lower blood pressure.
Adding tea to your diet is a good way to stay hydrated and is an alternative to coffee if you are trying to cut back on your caffeine intake. The caffeine content of tea varies depending on the variety of tea and how it is brewed, however, it is typically half of that of coffee. Coffee typically contains 135 mg of caffeine per cup, while tea contains only 30-40 mg per cup. When drinking tea, be cautious of added sugar that can contribute to hidden calories.
Tea is a healthy and delicious addition to your diet.