Several cups of tea – green, black, kombucha, oolong and herbal – daily can help to enhance your immune system, lower your high blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and improve your heart.
In countless studies, tea-drinking has been shown to be effective in improving your health. In fact, in one study conducted by Dr. Michael Gaziana, a heart specialist at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and funded by the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, showed that drinking at least one cup of tea per day could cut the risk of heart attack by almost half.
Researchers, however, are still trying to figure out how. Likely, it is because the polyphenols in tea are strong antioxidants capable of "mopping up" DNA-damaging free radicals in the bloodstream. Unfortunately, no one really knows for sure.
At melslife, we like tea, but we are suspicious of almost all the medical research studies – whether or not they are good or bad – because many times we do not know who funded them and what criteria were involved in determining their results. What we do know is that there are many wonderful tea varieties and flavors, which seem to have a medicinal effect.
Tea is prepared by steeping leaves, buds and stalks from different varieties of an evergreen known as camellia sinensis.
What gives tea its distinctive flavor is the degree to which this plant is processed. Processing can include oxidizing, heating, drying – which determines the type of tea – and the additions of flavoring like vanilla, herbs, flowers, spices and fruits. The addition of natural flavors and essences can create unlimited amounts of exciting flavors.
There are four basic types of tea: black, oolong (red), green and white. The difference between the four types is essentially how they are processed, with green tea being the least processed.
Herbal tea, which some experts call the fifth type of tea, usually contains no camellia sinensis, but rather herbs, flowers and fruit infusions. Herbal teas are the most convenient form of herbal remedies and may be used daily as tonics, for energy, or for overall wellness.
There are literally thousands of variations of tea, and finding the kind of tea you like is an adventure. Tea is second to water as the most consumed beverage in the world, and has become an integral part of life and of culture in many countries.
Tea has many health benefits because its leaves contain chemicals called polyphenols. These chemicals give tea its antioxidant properties, and are a natural source of the amino acid theanine.
Polyphenols in tea have been known to help:
- Protect our cells
- Prevent blood-clotting
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduce cancer
- Stimulate the immune system
Theanine (combined with teas’ vitamins, minerals and methyxanthines) are known to help:
- Fight against mutagenic agents
- Reduce aging
- Fight blood pressure
- Fight against viral and bacterial infection
- Improve the functions of the digestive and excretory systems
Tea also has natural fluoride for strong teeth.
Researchers believe that drinking green tea provides additional benefits:
- Lowers total cholesterol levels and improves the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol
- Inhibits the growth of cancer cells, especially gastric, esophageal, and skin cancers
- Inhibits the formation of blood clots, which can reduce heart attacks and strokes
Besides being particularly rich in polyphenols, what sets green tea apart from the other types of tea is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the good stuff from being oxidized, while black and oolong tea leaves are fermented. The fermentation reduces its polyphenols qualities and, therefore, these teas are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.
The only downside of drinking tea is that it does contain caffeine (except herbal teas), but the good news is that it is only about 60 percent of the caffeine one would find in a similar size cup of coffee.
Besides enjoying green tea throughout your day, we recommend the following kinds of tea to help lower your blood pressure:
- Calming teas like lemon verbena, chamomile, orange flower and peppermint
- Medicinal teas like rosehips, hibiscus, fennel, dandelion root, aniseed and cornsilk
- melsRemedy: steep three teaspoons of crushed hawthorn berries, three teaspoons of dried linden (Tilia cordata), two teaspoons of dried yarrow (Achillea millefolium), two cubes of crystallized ginger and a couple of blackberries or blueberries (for flavoring only).
If you are just focusing on your immune system, try your favorite tea with a variety of immune-boosting herbs like echinacea, Siberian ginseng, astragalus,
Like everything else, enjoying tea is a personal experience and you should explore many kinds of teas, try different tea manufacturers, mix, match and combine teas to find the ones that please you the most. Flavor, boldness or subtleness vary widely.
bayberry, fenugreek, hawthorn, horehound, licorice root, red clover, black radish, dandelion, milk thistle, goldenseal, St. John’s wort, boxthorn seed, suma, wisteria, ligustrum, or picrorrhiza. These herbs can be bought dried or in tinctures (liquid form). Ask your herb specialist for recommended amount (based on the herb’s potency) of herb to be combined with your tea. You will discover some interesting flavors.