Discloser: This post was sponsored by Adagio Teas. As always, I only partner with brands I use and like, and all opinions expressed here are my own.
Tea has long been purported to offer a number of health benefits for regular drinkers of the brew. Even in ancient times people often drank tea to treat various conditions or improve mental alertness. And these days it’s not hard to find various health claims about it, whether it be black, green, oolong, or herbal. But I’ve often wondered if those claims are valid or not. So, when Adagio Teas offered to send me some teas to try I gladly accepted it and decided to do a little research about it. Since then I’ve learned a lot about the different kinds of tea, it’s health benefits, and how to properly prepare it.
Isn’t all tea the same?
No, it’s not. First off, herbal tea is made from herbs, not the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant that other teas are made from. The difference between black, green, oolong, and white teas lies in the amount of fermentation the leaves undergo. After the leaves are harvested, they go through a prescribed time of withering, rolling or pressing, and drying to produce whatever type of tea is desired. White tea is on one end of the spectrum (the least amount of fermentation) and black tea is on the other end. All come from the same leaves, but different processing produces different aromas, flavors, and color. It can also affect some of the beneficial elements found in tea.
Does drinking tea offer any health benefits?
Yes, and maybe. For people who don’t care for plain water, it can be a great way to stay hydrated, especially herbal tea which tends to be caffeine free. Caffeine levels for other tea varies with green tea containing less caffeine than black tea. And as long as you don’t add milk or sweeteners, tea is a zero-calorie beverage.
But what gets many people excited about tea are the catechins and polyphenols that are found in it, with green tea having a higher concentration than black tea. These are antioxidants that may prevent cell damage and have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Some studies also show a possible positive affect on heart health markers, such as total and LDL cholesterol levels. But while we still need further supporting research for all these claims, it certainly can’t hurt to add a little more tea, green or black to our daily diet.
Do preparation methods matter?
How you prepare your tea does make a difference. Brew it at home and you’ll generally have a higher concentration of polyphenols than a bottle of tea purchased at the store. I think it tastes better too. In addition, green tea should be brewed with water heated to around 185° F – not boiling, and not longer than 3 to 5 minutes for the best flavor and highest concentration of beneficial nutrients. This helps avoid the bitterness that can happen when brewed at too high a temperature.
With Adagio Teas, you’ll find they list the optimal brewing technique for each of their gourmet teas, the temperature and how long to steep, right on the package. I appreciated that as I hadn’t realized before how important temperature was on the quality of the end product. The teas I received and tried were good quality loose teas at a reasonable price. Even my youngest son has become an avid tea drinker, and I often find him heating up a pot of water to brew a cup for himself. And of course, he has a thermometer nearby to make sure it’s the right temperature. Not bad for fourteen-year-old!
Khan, Naghma, and Hasan Mukhtar. “Tea and Health: Studies in Humans.” Current pharmaceutical design 19.34 (2013): 6141–6147. Print.
McGee, H. (1984). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen. New York: Scribner
Kim, Amie et al. “Green Tea Catechins Decrease Total and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 111, Issue 11, 1720 – 1729.
Troup, Rasa et al. “Effect of Black Tea Intake on Blood Cholesterol Concentrations in Individuals with Mild Hypercholesterolemia: A Diet-Controlled Randomized Trial.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 115, Issue 2, 264 – 271.e2.