Tea is not just a beverage, it is a life style. It allows us to slow down and be in the moment. It is meant to share and enjoy with a friend. Although different types of teas can be more beneficial than others in certain respects all teas have significant health benefits and ultimately the tea that is best for you is the tea that you enjoy drinking.
Many of the health benefits of drinking tea come from the fact that tea contains high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols or flavonoids. These compounds are most prevalent in green and white teas, but are also present in varying degrees in Oolongs and black teas. In the processing of black teas another antioxidant is formed theaflavin. This is weaker than the polyphenols in Green teas, but still performs antioxidant activities in laboratory experiments. Polyphenols scavenge cell-damaging free radicals, which are linked with cancer-causing genes and cause LDL cholesterol to form artery-clogging plaque. The polyphenols in tea possess 20 to 30 times the antioxidant potency of vitamins C and E. Antioxidants impair the ability of free radical cells to harm the molecules that make up our bodies.
Nutrients and vitamins
Tea is a dietary source of important vitamins and minerals. Tea contains Carotene, a precursor to vitamin A; Thiamin (vitamin B1); Riboflavin (vitamin B2); Nicotinic acid, Pantothenic acid, Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin B6; Folic acid; Manganese, Potassium, and Fluoride. Reported benefits of drinking tea:
- Enhancing immune function
- Lowering LDL cholesterol levels
- Increasing HDL cholesterol levels
- Reducing blood pressure
- Thinning the blood, reducing the risk of a heart attack
- Maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system
- Lowering the risk of stroke
- Reducing the risk of cancer (bladder, breast, colorectal, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, prostate and skin)
- Boosting longevity
- Maintaining bone density
- Aiding digestion
- Preventing dental cavities and gingivitis
- Preventing halitosis
- Lowers the risk of diabetes
- Protects against inflammatory bowel disease
- Aids weight loss
- Protects against liver disease
- Reduces eczema and psoriasis outbreaks
- Promotes sense of well being
Caffeine, in moderation, can have positive effects on our systems. It stimulates the metabolism and increases brain function and alertness.
|Average caffeine level in 8-ounce Beverage||milligrams|
|Coffee, Espresso (2 ounces)||100|
|Coffee, Decaf, instant||2-3|
The table above is meant as a guide for typical levels of caffeine and can significantly vary. It is also important to realize that other phytochemicals present in tea modify the effect of the caffeine present providing for a longer, subtler lift that most people describe as "alert but without the jitters".
The effect of caffeine is also complemented by another compound found only in tea, theophylline. While caffeine primarily is active in the brain and muscles, theophylline is active in stimulating the respiratory system, heart and kidneys. This corresponds to research that tea is helpful in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
If you really want decaf: DIY
Caffeine can be is removed from tea leaves via a chemical process using ethyl acetate, which significantly damages the antioxidant levels of the tea leaf, or a water CO2 technique, which although gentler still leaves an inferior tasting tea in its wake.
If you are truly caffeine intolerant consider a naturally caffeine free herbal tea such as rooibos or decaffeinate your own tea. Simply steep the tea as you normally would for 40 seconds and then pour off the liquid. Now start over again with the wet leaves and brew normally. On average 80% of the caffeine will be released into the brief infusion of water, the subsequent infusions will have minimal amounts of caffeine and comparatively little of the flavor or aroma will be sacrificed.