Given the rising popularity of tea today, it is not surprising that we receive repeated queries on which is the healthiest tea. If you have to drink tea, why not choose the healthiest one in the market? Then there are people who switched to tea for its health benefits and now want to know how they can get the best out of it. So, what is the healthiest tea available today?
What is the Healthiest Tea?
The answer to this question is more complicated than it may appear. The truth is that there is no one ‘healthiest tea’. Calling any tea as the ‘healthiest’ is a bit of advertising hyperbole. This is because the term healthiest is itself full of contradictions. Like religion, what works for you may not work for your neighbor. Sure, we all want our shot of antioxidants, but some of us may be looking for a tad bit extra. For instance, if you have a cold, ginger tea may seem the best. On the other hand, if you suffer from insomnia, valerian tea will seem a more preferable option. The red raspberry leaf tea, on the other hand, is the preferred choice for many pregnant women.
In other words, the healthiest tea will depend on your own health. The healthiest tea is simply the one that you need. For instance, you can try:
- For cold: Peppermint, chamomile, ginger, echinacea, elderberry, green tea can help in dealing with a cold.
- For anxiety, sleeplessness: This includes strong sedatives like valerian, moderate sedatives like kava, hops, passionflower, and lemon balm tea. Chamomile and lavender tea come under mild sedatives that can help you sleep.
- For detox: You can try turmeric, rosehip, dandelion, oolong, and green tea for a detox.
- In pregnancy: It is advisable to keep one’s caffeine intake in check during pregnancy. Herbal teas are naturally decaffeinated. Options like red raspberry leaf, ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and lemon balm tea are recommended for their soothing properties.
Black, White or Green Tea?
Tea is derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Although we are more familiar with black, white and green tea, there are three other varieties, namely, oolong, yellow, and dark. Contrary to the common belief, herbal teas are not technically in this category. All six varieties of tea are differentiated by their processing. It can also cause changes in their antioxidant content. White tea, the least processed of them, has the highest number of antioxidants.
A number of studies on different teas have shown that the beverage offers us a number of benefits. A study on black and green teas published in Current Pharmaceutical Design attributed its beneficial properties to polyphenols, catechins, flavonols, and theaflavins. These antioxidants promote good health and help in the prevention of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. These properties are present in all teas in variable proportions.
So, which of these should be your pick? Again, research seems conflicted. As the tea which is processed the least, white tea has a slightly higher share of antioxidants. But it may also have higher caffeine content. In fact, given modern manufacturing and the global scale of marketing, it is difficult to make generic assumptions on the quality of the tea. The constituent polyphenols often vary from one brand to another and even within the same brand. In short, whether you drink white tea, green tea or black tea, the benefits you will get are similar.
Frequency of Consumption: The key may be the frequency of consumption rather than the tea itself. A 2020 research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that consistent habitual tea drinkers show a 22 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and 15 percent less risk of all-cause mortality. Habitual tea drinkers were defined as participants who took tea three or more times a week.
Herbal Teas, a Healthier Choice?
The other contenders are herbal teas. Strictly speaking, these are tisanes as only products from Camellia sinensis leaves can be called teas. There are a number of beneficial choices here, from ginger tea, chamomile tea, to ginseng tea. The benefits of the tea will depend on the constituent or components. For instance, ginseng tea can help in fighting obesity and stabilizing blood pressure, while ginger tea has strong anti-inflammatory properties.