Tea in the afternoon or in the late morning or any time for that matter brings a certain feeling of serenity to your life.
When I was growing up, my grandmother and mother liked to take an afternoon break to have a spot of tea and dessert. Usually the dessert was something that my mother had just finished baking such as a yummy chocolate cake, brownies or cookies.
But I never had the tea, only the dessert du jour and a glass of milk.
It isn’t until recently that I’ve taken an interest in tea. And the reason is that tea can be oh-so-healthy. And with the variety to choose from, it can be incredibly delicious besides being soothing.
Tea is said to be the most popular beverage in the world. It’s been consumed for thousands of years by millions, perhaps billions, of people.
Tea has also been shown to have many health benefits. And some of these benefits are thought to be related to tea’s antioxidant properties. These properties stem from its disease-fighting flavonoids known as “catechins.” Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and have a range of health benefits.
Green tea vs. black tea – What’s the difference?
What do green and black teas have in common?
First of all, they both come from the camellia sinensis evergreen shrub that’s native to China and India. Green tea contains slightly more health-promoting flavonoids than black tea.
Why is this?
The difference lies in how they’re processed.
If the leaves are steamed or heated, this keeps them green. The heat stops oxidation from turning them black. Then they’re dried to preserve the color and flavonoids, which are the antioxidants.
Hence you have green tea.
If the leaves are not heated, and are crushed and rolled, then they continue to oxidize until they’re dry. This oxidation uses up some of the flavonoids’ antioxidant power, so black tea has slightly less ability to combat free radicals than green tea does.
Note that adding milk to your tea reduces the antioxidant ability.
Both green and black teas contain about half of the caffeine in coffee. That translates to about 20-45 mg. per 8 oz. cup.
Green tea vs. black tea – Health Benefits
Tea drinking, in general, seems to be associated with good health.
Heart Health: Both green and black tea drinkers seem to have high levels of antioxidants in their blood compared with non-tea drinkers. Green and black tea drinkers also have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke.
Drinking green tea, in particular, is associated with reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, all of which are risk factors for heart conditions.
Overall, drinkers of green and black tea seem to have a lower risk of heart problems. And green tea has also been shown to reduce risk factors (for example, blood lipid levels) a bit more than black tea has demonstrated.
Cancers: Antioxidants also reduce the risk of many cancers. Studies show that both green and black teas can reduce the risk of prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men). Also, green tea drinkers have a lowered risk of breast and colorectal cancers.
Black tea is being researched for its potential to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Also, I read that according to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, black tea may help protect against cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and rheumatoid arthritis.
Overall, antioxidant flavonoids in tea seem to help reduce the risk of some different cancers. Green tea may have a slight edge over black tea, but both seem to be associated with lower cancer risk.
Diabetes: Both green and black teas can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also reduce diabetes risk factors, like elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. For example, some studies have shown that both green and black teas can help reduce blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that green tea can also improve insulin sensitivity.
Once again, green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea, but both are blood sugar friendly (just don’t overdo the sweetener).
Now let’s move onto blue tea. This colorful tea has been in the news lately. And it, too, has health-promoting antioxidant properties.
Sometimes blue tea is referred to as oolong tea (although this tea isn’t really blue). The blue tea with the gorgeous blue color is known as butterfly pea flower tea (don’t you love that name?). It’s the addition of the blue flowers that gives it the color. This particular tea is made from the clitoria ternatea plant.
This tea has the ability to change color depending on what you add to it. So if you add lemon, for instance, the beautiful blue color changes to purple. You may also mix it with mint or honey or ginger. But let’s get to this tea’s health benefits.
Blue tea has been studied for its ability to help increase collagen production and skin elasticity. It’s also thought to reduce inflammation, fight against certain types of cancer and to help with natural weight loss.
In Taiwan and China, this tea is thought to be a weight loss beverage. How does this work? Well, blue tea helps to increase your metabolism and helps to reduce cholesterol and also helps protect against fatty liver.
Okay, so what about the taste?
Personally, I haven’t tried it … yet. Two supermarkets I went to didn’t carry it. I’ll try my health food store next. I’ll let you decide about the taste — and also about which tea is healthiest. At the moment, green tea seems to have an edge over black, but let’s not discount blue.
Blue tea is getting a lot of media attention at the moment. I first heard about it in Oprah’s magazine this month. It’s good to experiment, and for me, the color alone is so gorgeous that I can’t wait to make a purchase and give it a sip.
So what do you think? Do you have a favorite tea? Are you, in fact, a tea drinker? How do you enjoy your tea? We’d love to hear from you so please comment below.