We all know in some way or another that tea is “good for us”. But the question is: how good? Although there is actually no recorded down-side to drinking tea, many (most) still opt for coffee as the regular go-to morning beverage of choice.  It’s clear to me that the reason, far beyond the  addictive nature of coffee and Starbucks on every street corner, is mainly because we truly do not know the all the incredible benefits of this luxury drink; tea.

Let’s start with the basics: tea can help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness, just to name a few.  So think of tea as your sidekick to wellness – as you know, half the battle is in the mind.

I will stick to the main fundamental teas, of which we are mostly aware of and can easily have access to : White, Green, Oolong and Black tea. Now keep in mind that the best way to go is loose leaf, and organic. (If you don’t yet have a loose leaf tea infuser, here is a great one from AquaOvo)

 These teas are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

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White tea: Uncured and unfermented and the least processed of all teas, it also has the highest antioxidant levels.  Antioxidants are nutrients that protect the body from damage by free radicals. Free radicals are nasty things that go around wreaking havoc on your body, damaging DNA and accelerating aging. White tea may have profound power against cancer-causing cells and against many different types of cancer, such as colon, prostate, and stomach cancers. White tea is a natural killer of bacteria and viruses keeping the immune system at its best. It can also lead to healthier teeth and gums, more radiant skin and reduce blood sugar. Overall, white tea is the supreme drink of health.

Allow tea to steep 4 – 6 minutes and remove leaves.

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Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG. Green tea’s antioxidants can interfere with the growth of cancer in the bladder, breasts, lungs, stomach, and pancreas. It can also prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels. Green tea also contains 1-Theanine. Theanine increases the production of GABA in the brain – and naturally stimulates alpha brainwaves associated with relaxation and enhanced mental clarity. Not only this, but green tea also shows to be a great way to shed some unwanted pounds as it does stimulate weight loss.

Allow tea to steep 1 ½ – 2 minutes and remove leaves.

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Oolong tea: Oolong tea is very rich in anti-oxidants. It also contains vital minerals and vitamins such as calcium, manganese,copper, carotin, selenium, and potassium, Vitamin A, B, C, E and K. in addition to folic acids, niacin amide and other detoxifying alkaloids. Developed in semi-fermented processing, the oolong tea is rich in numerous polyphenolic compounds, adding value health benefits of oolong tea. The polyphenol compound found in oolong tea is very effective in controlling the fat metabolism of the body. It activates certain enzymes and thus enhances weigh loss. Oolong can also contribute to healing of skin disorders such as eczema and the strengthening of the body’s bone structure.

Allow tea to steep 4 – 6 minutes and remove leaves.

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Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas.  Unlike other drinks that have a relatively higher caffeine content, the lower amounts found in black tea can help enhance blood flow to the brain without over-stimulating the heart. It also stimulates the metabolism and respiratory system, as well as the heart and the kidneys. Black tea contains alkylamine antigens that help boost our immune response. In addition it also contains tannins that have the ability to fight viruses and hence keep us protected from influenza, stomach flu and other such commonly found viruses in our everyday lives.

Allow tea to steep approximately 3 – 5 minutes and remove tealeaves.

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Getting thirsty? The next time you do reach for that cup of coffee because it habitually makes you “feel good”; think again – and start to think long-term health.

Story by Ashley King

Wellness Editor | KA Online MAGAZINE