What You Need to Know to Get Health Benefits From Tea + How to Brew the Perfect Cup
Here’s how to sip up the health benefits of black tea, as well as oolong, white and green teas. Plus, learn to brew the perfect cup of tea.
Drinking black tea from a pretty cup is one of my favorite ways to catch my breath during a busy afternoon.
Sit, sip, recharge.
The benefit isn’t simply from the caffeine in tea. Tea boasts several compounds with health benefits. For example, the world’s most popular beverage (other than water) gives us the amino acid theanine, which acts on the brain and is thought to enhance focus and relaxation at the same time.
And after dinner, I sit in my comfy chair with a book and a cup of decaffeinated Earl Grey tea.
Sit, sip, wind down for the evening. A favorite bedtime ritual. And I’ve been doing it for a lot of years!
Still, other benefits of black tea, and its sisters white, oolong and green teas, come from their phytochemical disease-fighters, particularly flavonoids and other polyphenol compounds. These are the same types of health-boosting compounds in fruits, vegetables and other plants. My risk for heart disease is one reason I want plenty of these disease-fighters.
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Black, oolong, green and white teas each come from the leaves of the evergreen Camellia sinesis. They look and taste different because the leaves are harvested at different stages of growth and go through various levels of fermentation.
They all appear to have health benefits, so don’t fret about which is the best tea. But do pay attention to how you prepare your tea. I’ve got a list of 5 tips to get the most flavonoids from your hot or iced teas. It’s down the page a bit. But first, what drinking tea can do for you.
5 health benefits of black tea (and the others from the Camellia sinesis plant)
Research shares lots of good news about tea. Not all of it is rock solid, but I feel confident that tea and tea flavonoids are beneficial – just like the other plants we consume.
- Tea is good for the heart. Tea drinking is associated with reduced risk of heart attack, lowering of high blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels.
- Drinking tea might help you keep your mental edge. Some studies have found that the cognitive abilities of tea drinkers are greater than those who do not drink tea. A Japanese study found that drinking green tea was associated with less risk of decreased mental abilities among older people.
- Tea might help prevent type 2 diabetes. In the large Women’s Health Study, women who consumed at least four cups of tea daily had a 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-tea drinkers. Other studies have shown that compounds in green tea help regulate blood sugar levels. And here’s a list of other foods I recommend for prediabetes.
- Black tea might help your bones. Drinking black tea appears to improve bone density.
- Tea might lower cancer risk. Here again, studies are not so clear cut, but tea compounds may protect against cancer by supporting antioxidant defenses.
How to get more disease-fighters from your tea
- Skip bottled teas. Though convenient, they contain little, if any, flavonoids.
- Brew tea in hot water. Tea brewed in cold or room-temperature water has fewer flavonoids.
- Brew iced tea double strength because ice dilutes the tea and the disease-fighting flavonoids.
- Store iced tea in the refrigerator for just a day or two. Time destroys flavonoids. If you notice the bottom of the pitcher is cloudy, you’re looking at degraded flavonoids.
- Add a few fresh lemon or orange slices to your tea pitcher. The vitamin C in citrus fruits protects flavonoids from destruction.
Brew the perfect cup of tea
Now that you know how drinking tea may be good for, you’ll want to brew it right.
|Type of Tea||Temperature||Steeping Time|
|Black tea has the darkest color and strongest flavor. Its leaves are fully fermented.||Bring water to a boil.||3 – 5 minutes|
|Green tea has a delicate flavor and light color. Its leaves are not fermented.||Allow boiled water to cool for about 10 minutes before pouring.||1 minute|
|Oolong tea has a flavor and color between black and green teas because the leaves of oolong tea are partially fermented.||180-190°F||5 – 7 minutes|
|White tea comes from leaves harvested when they are very young. They are not fermented.||180-190°F||3 – 4 minutes|
|Iced tea is also packed with health-boosting compounds when freshly brewed and refrigerated for only a couple days. When the bottom of the pitcher is cloudy, the flavonoids have degraded.||1 quart of boiling water for 8 – 10 tea bags||3 – 5 minutes
Adjust the strength of your tea with additional cold water or ice cubes.
Cheers to happy, healthy sipping!Love Your Heart Every Day! Download my guide to heart-healthy food & ingredient swaps for yum and health.
I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.
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Welcome to my Blog
Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.
I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.
And I believe willpower is way overrated.
Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.