You are adamantly in favor of coffee, but since your family is a big admirer of tea, bags of Earl Grey, cans of matcha, and tins of exotic blends with names like “Misty Paris Morning on the Left Bank” are taking the place of Nespresso capsules and coffee beans in the pantry.

They’re right on something, even you have to recognize that: One of the healthiest drinks available, tea is both elegant and comforting (Princess Kate and your grandmother both sip it). “Research on this topic shows that regular consumption of tea is good for long-term health, although there are some differences in the composition of various types of tea,” states Benjamin Haddon Parmenter, Ph.D. of Edith Cowan University in Australia. We refer to the highly caffeinated beverage made from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is cultivated worldwide, as “tea.” Tea’s medicinal properties are mostly derived from polyphenols—chemicals found in the leaves—especially epicatechins and catechins, which strengthen the body’s defenses against free radical damage.

Experts warn that while tea is a delicious method to somewhat improve your health, it cannot reverse an unhealthy lifestyle or take the place of prescription medications. Tea has the following benefits for you:

Maintain the health of your heart

Tea, in addition to exercise and diet, can help maintain your heart healthy. Drinking two or more cups of black tea a day was linked to a lower chance of dying from ischemic heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, according to a recent large-scale British study. According to Parmenter, the flavonoids in black and green tea have long been linked to heart health. One explanation could be that these compounds encourage healthy blood flow throughout the body and aid in maintaining a normal blood pressure by enhancing the condition and functionality of the inner layer of the blood vessels, according to research. Tea’s constituents may also help lower total and LDL cholesterol, which would further lessen your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

Combat inflammation

Chronic inflammation, which occurs when the body uses inflammation as a healing mechanism even in the absence of damage, is linked to a number of diseases, including as dementia, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Tea is a useful tool in your fight-back strategy. According to Boston-based dietitian Alyssa Pacheco, R.D., “green tea in particular is full of anti-inflammatory compounds, including a particularly potent catechin called EGCG that can protect against cellular damage.”

Treat a cold or the flu

It is not necessary to be an expert in biochemistry to understand that drinking tea helps alleviate symptoms of a sore throat and sniffles. First of all, the heated beverage clears your throat and relieves congestion. According to Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., author of Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked), one of its most significant medicinal properties, however, might just be that it keeps you hydrated. London emphasizes that you should increase your fluid intake when you’re sick, especially by drinking lots of unsweetened beverages.

Become more focused

Black tea contains caffeine, which can help you stay focused and energetic without giving you the jittery, overly-caffeinated sensation that comes with drinking coffee. According to integrative dietitian Robin Foroutan, R.D.N., brewed tea is an excellent option for folks who want extra support without a sip that is overly stimulating, as it contains between 25% and 50% less caffeine than coffee. “Black tea can give you a more balanced boost because it contains caffeine and L-theanine, a compound that helps your body regulate the calming neurotransmitters,” she continues.

Can tea, however, aid in weight loss?

This is an exaggeration. Tea’s catechins and caffeine may have a minor effect on metabolism, but what’s more important for weight loss may be what you don’t drink: According to Josh Axe, D.N.M., cofounder of Ancient Nutrition, drinking tea “fills the void to replace beverages that are high in sugar and calories.” “You’re cutting a significant amount of calories per day when you swap out sugary sodas for tea, flavored lattes for cream and sugar, and coffee for coffee.”

Learn about the various kinds of tea

Though they aren’t officially classified as “tea,” beverages made with dried herbs, spices, flowers, roots, and fruit have their own set of health advantages. These beverages are called “herbals” or “infusions,” and they don’t include caffeine. Made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant, Rooibos (pronounced “ROY-boss”) tea, sometimes referred to as “red tea,” is adored for its naturally sweet and nutty flavor as well as its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. In addition to having calming properties like preventing nausea and promoting peace, mint, ginger, chamomile, and hibiscus are rich in antioxidants and make a fantastic blend for a calming beverage before bed.

Depending on when they are picked, how long they are left to wither, and how long they are oxidized, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant—the plant from which “true” tea is made—can be collected and processed into a variety of teas. Every one of these elements influences the tea’s appearance and flavor while also causing chemical reactions that alter the micronutrients in the leaves. Examine these options and select the healthiest-seeking beverage that you enjoy the most.

Dark Tea

Classic black tea is what comes to mind when you think of “a cuppa”—English Breakfast, Darjeeling, or even just a simple bag of Lipton next to your office coffee maker. The Camellia sinensis leaves are rolled or chopped and allowed to dry completely before being used to make this type of tea; oxidation causes the leaves to turn a deep brown or black. All teas include a lot of polyphenols, but black tea has a lot more flavonoids and rutinoids than other teas. Flavonoids give black tea its rich color and may also help regulate blood sugar.

Green Tea

Green teas, like matcha and Hojicha, are made from the same plant as black tea, however they have completely different colors and flavors. The distinction is that the green leaves are heated to prevent oxidation before they have a chance to turn brown. This is what gives the tea its flavor—grassy and brilliant green. Dietitian Amy Fischer, R.D.N., states that matcha, or green tea, is rich in antioxidants including chlorophyll, L-theanine, and catechins.

White Tea

Consider white tea the new member of the family: The Camellia sinensis leaves are harvested just after they have barely budded in order to create this gentle and flowery-tasting varietal. The name of the tea type comes from the downy white fuzz that typically covers the leaves at this early stage. As soon as the leaves are picked, they are dried to prevent oxidation. According to Fischer, “White tea has a higher amount of catechins because it is the least processed tea and retains a higher amount of these compounds.” White tea also shares antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities with green tea.

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