When a consumer is looking for a tea, they have a wide range of choices and all of these choices have healing benefits to the body. These benefits are derived from polyphenols (chemical substances that help fight disease) that are contained in the leaves and buds of the tea.
A recent study reviewing the antioxidant activity of 21 plant and herb extracts found that white tea had more beneficial polyphenols that other substances analyzed. This high polyphenol count may have something to do with the processing of white tea compared to other teas. White tea is made from the first leaves and buds and do not go through the process of fermentation that green or black teas do, making it the least processed of the three. Thus, white tea may have more of the active ingredients that effect human cells, making it a more potent defender against certain cancers, heart disease and stroke than its green and black cousins. Additionally, some studies have linked white tea to the reduction of bacterial infection, wrinkles and joint problems.
Made from fresh leaves from the Camellia sinesis plant, green tea has been a superstar in the tea world, mainly for its documented benefits of cancer prevention. Several studies have shown that catechins in green tea help to not only destroy cancer cells but prevent new ones from occurring by inhibiting the enzymes that cancer cells need to grow. One of the largest studies, in Chinese women, found that consumption of green tea actually cut the risk of colorectal cancer in half. Green tea has also been shown to help support bone growth, prevent blood clots and hardening of the arteries, and even slow the rate of progression of dementia.
Made from aged leaves from the Camellia sinesis plant, black tea is king when it comes to helping the brain, specifically mental alertness and prevention of Alzheimer's disease. Further, the polysaccharides in black tea have been found to help stabilize blood sugar.
So how can you get the most benefit from the tea of your choosing? Some studies show that when consuming teas, you may want to stay away from adding milk. This is because the protein in milk may bind to the compounds in the tea and reduce overall antioxidant activity. Further, unsweetened teas are always a better alternative to soft drinks and other calorie laden drinks.
Overall, beautiful health is not the result of focusing on one particular food item. Instead, it is the outcome of a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of whole foods (like tea), regular exercise and stress management. That means, in addition to your tea drinking this winter, stay away from the comfort foods as well!