By: Sammy Cusimano
Cultures from one corner of the world to another all inevitably have their own unique differences; however, one common aspect of so many areas far-and-wide is the importance of brewing and drinking tea. It is more than simply a drink. Tea is an experience. It is a beverage that brings people together and helps to connect one person to another. Aside from water, tea is consumed more than any other drink in the entire world. In Britain, there is a designated “tea time” ranging between the hours of 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm. In many Asian countries, tea is as integral a part of special ceremonies and rituals as it is in daily life during meals. Egypt values tea so much that it holds strong as the national drink. The universal appeal of tea is unquestionable. This is for very good reason considering the long list of health benefits of drinking tea, in all of its varieties. With its high levels of antioxidant polyphenols, tea not only helps the body fight the effects of all forms of stress, but also aids in digestion as a calorie-free beverage that contains less caffeine than coffee. Tea comes in many forms. Each has different health benefits, but all share the common quality of being good for the mind, body and spirit.
When one speaks of traditional tea in Western culture, he or she is referring to black tea. This tea is darker in color and stronger in flavor than most other teas. Black tea is beneficial to the body in a number of ways. It improves blood pressure and may reduce the risk of stroke due to the fact that it contains theophylline, a chemical which increases blood flow throughout the body. The increased blood flow also aids in the function of the capillaries, which makes black tea beneficial for respiratory diseases such as asthma, by expanding the airways and even protecting the lungs from exposure to damaging pollutants such as cigarette smoke. Black tea can be enhanced with honey and lemon for a healthy boost of natural flavor.
Originally from China, green tea is slightly different from other teas in regards to the oxidation process that it undergoes during production. It has been called the healthiest beverage on the planet due to its incredible cancer-inhibiting properties (particularly bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic and colorectal cancers). The antioxidants in green tea are beneficial to the body in so many ways. The tasty beverage can even reduce the risk of stroke as well as neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. There are heart-health benefits to drinking green tea as well. It improves cholesterol, while also preventing the clogging of the arteries. The fluoride content in green tea even makes it beneficial to preventing any tooth decay. Green tea is an all-around excellent immune system builder, with its many antioxidants that fight the damaging effects of free radical damage caused by stress of all types.
Much like black tea and green tea, white tea also has blood-thinning qualities to improve artery function and also maintain a healthy level of blood pressure. Similar to green tea, it has anti-cancer benefits, while also protecting the heart and keeping the entire circulatory system healthy. White tea is also renowned for its dental health benefits. It contains small amounts of fluoride, along with other nutrients that kill the bacteria that causes plaque, tooth decay and bad breath to help keep the teeth healthy and strong.
The caffeine content in tea aids in weight loss due to increased energy, motivation and a faster rate of burning calories. Particularly, oolong tea is an effective addition to any weight loss program mainly due to a polyphenol, called catechin, which is found in oolong tea and helps keep metabolism from slowing down as weight loss occurs. Oolong tea also helps to lower cholesterol levels and keep blood sugar levels in check, which makes it beneficial to any person who has diabetes.
While most teas are best in the morning or afternoon due to the stimulating effects of caffeine, one of the best choices at nighttime is chamomile tea. It has no caffeine because it does not come from the camellia sinensis plant as green, black and white tea do. Instead chamomile tea comes from chamomile flowers, thus making it a soothing, calming herbal tea which aids in falling asleep. In addition to the relaxation benefits of chamomile tea, it also helps to stunt the growth of cancer cells, treat irritable bowel syndrome and even help stop gastrointestinal inflammation. The antioxidants in chamomile tea are also beneficial to diabetics because of their ability to help prevent complications of the condition such as loss of vision, nerve and also kidney damage. Chamomile tea is also an excellent drink before bed to alleviate anxiety and to help treat insomnia.
Another excellent choice of tea for relaxation with a calming, soothing effect is peppermint tea. Similar to chamomile, it is an herbal tea that does not contain any caffeine. This allows it to serve as an effective remedy for headaches, bloating, nausea and even bad breath. Simply the aroma of peppermint is strong enough to help soothe the tension of a headache or the queasiness of nausea. It aids in relaxing the body by opening up constricted blood vessels, thus relieving tension. Combining peppermint tea with a peppermint oil diffuser can help to relieve even a strong migraine.
One of the best natural remedies for nausea and stomach aches is ginger tea. It comes from the ginger root, like chamomile and peppermint, ginger tea does not contain any caffeine. It is so effective at treating nausea that it has successfully been used to relieve the discomfort patients feel after undergoing surgery and even chemotherapy. Ginger tea has even been known to help lessen arthritis pain and decrease muscle aches. With cold and flu season starting this fall, ginger tea is also a very soothing choice of beverage to help relieve a sore throat.
The world drinks over 1.4 million pounds of tea every single day. More than three billion cups are consumed daily across the globe in all cultures, making tea the one beverage, besides water of course, that unifies all people. In addition to being so delicious and soothing, tea is one of the most healing beverages that you can drink. It is no surprise that five out of six Americans are tea drinkers. With so many processed beverages full of sugars and artificial sweeteners out there today, organic tea is still one of the best choices for a healthy lifestyle. Former British Prime Minister of the 19th century, William Ewart Gladstone, once said, “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.” The versatility of tea is unparalleled. It will enhance not only your health but also your quality of life. With so many varieties of tea on the market today, there is something for everyone that is sure to satisfy your taste buds, while keeping you feeling healthy inside and out.