Over the past few months I have spent a significant amount of time researching the possible good and bad benefits of drinking different types of teas.
No, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with drinking your cup of Joe. As a matter of fact, organic coffee is jam packed with tons of antioxidants and has been found to decrease the risk of diseases like type 2 Diabetes and cancer, but it’s also pretty jam packed with caffeine, which is why I decided to research and make the switch over to a variety of different teas.
The good news is that I found a long list of incredible benefits to drinking tea which made my transition very easy. Tea also does contain some caffeine (about a quarter to half as much as coffee) making the switch even easier.
Here are several different varieties of teas and the many healthy benefits I found to each (who knows, you may even consider switching your Java habit as well.)
Before we differentiate between several different teas, it is true that all teas (black, green, oolong and white) come from the same plant, camellia sinensis. What gives each tea its particular qualities is in the processing of this particular plant to create different varieties of tea. Black tea is probably the most commonly consumed and most popular of all the teas I researched. It also contains the highest amount of caffeine of most teas (approximately 40 mg), but not nearly as much as 1 – 8 oz cup of coffee (100 mg). The low amounts of caffeine in black tea promotes blood flow in the brain without over stimulating the heart, helping to sharpen mental focus and concentration (oh, we could also use a little of that).
One of black teas greatest benefits is its high number of antioxidants, including quercetin, a substance found to combat inflammation and support healthy immune function. This is probably the best health benefit of drinking black tea…its ability to keep the immune system healthy and strong.
I enjoy a cup of hot black tea most mornings with a bit of squeezed lemon and stevia. It helps me start off my day energized and alert without giving me any of the jittery feelings I would sometimes get with drinking too much coffee. Some people much prefer their black tea cold, which I sometimes make for my husband and relatives when they are visiting. I make 2-3 tea bags with boiling water in a large glass bowl, sweeten with stevia and allow to cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. It’s delicious and refreshing served over ice with a little added piece of lemon (careful with how many glasses you drink if you are someone who is sensitive to caffeine).
If you’ve ever done even the slightest research on weight loss, you’ve surely come across tons of information touting the miraculous ability of green tea to burn off body fat.
Is that really true?
Well, before we get to that, what makes green tea so special?
Green tea is extremely rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly EGCG, which is an extremely powerful antioxidant. Besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it actually has the ability to kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. EGCG has also been found to be extremely powerful in the prevention of heart disease and assists in keeping cholesterol levels healthy.
But back to the weight loss theories…
Many doctors and scientific studies have confirmed the incredible power of green tea when it comes to weight loss. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, world renowned doctor and author of 3 bestselling books stated, “…you'd lose up to 10 pounds in 4-6 weeks doing nothing but taking green tea. Green tea increases your daily fat burning rate by 43%”. The fat burning effects of green tea can be attributed to so much more than just its caffeine content (since caffeine has been shown to enhance the metabolism). The catechins in green tea have been found to force the body into thermo genesis, driving your body to burn fat as its energy source. Green tea has also been shown to cause carbohydrates to be released slowly, preventing rises in blood-insulin levels and keeping the body at an ideal blood sugar balance for fat burning.
Can I say for sure that this will happen to almost everyone? Definitely not! Every person is individual and many other factors in your diet and exercise program greatly affect what your weight loss results will be. But with all the other wonderful benefits we know about green tea, it is definitely worth including 1-2 cups into your daily routine (Green tea contains approximately 15-30 mg of caffeine per cup. Careful with your intake if you are someone who is sensitive to caffeine).
Like black tea, green tea can be enjoyed hot or cold and you can use stevia, xylitol or raw honey to sweeten a bit.
Last but definitely not least…
This was by far the most eye opening research of them all. I had heard of the many benefits of Oolong Tea (also widely referred to as Wu-long) for some time, but had never done this much research and reading about it (little did I know what I was missing).
Even though green tea has been most popularly known as the drink of choice for fat burning, wu-long tea has been shown to burn 220% more fat than green tea. The only difference between green tea and wu-long tea is in the processing of the tea leaves, making the beneficial properties of each just slightly different.
The Chinese have long believed that oolong/wu-long tea is greatly beneficial in reducing and maintaining weight and have conducted several studies proving such. It looks like, from the research, that wu-long tea can actually encourage your body to use more fat for energy, resulting in accelerated fat burning and, of course, weight loss. Many of the same fat burning properties, mentioned above for green tea, have been found in wu-long tea but the effects seem to be more pronounced.
All of the other incredible benefits of tea can also be found with wu-long tea, but, where as increased immune function and antioxidant benefits are black and greet teas claim to fame, it looks like wu-long teas greatest benefit is fat loss.
You can enjoy wu-long tea hot or cold, sweetened or flavoured with lemon. I actually really enjoy the rich, flowery taste of wu-long tea all on its own, not really needing any sweetener or anything added to enjoy its delicious taste.
Sue, which tea is the best for me?
With all the wonderful benefits of these 3 teas, it may be hard to decide which is the best choice for you. I love to do what my good friend Mike Geary taught me is to mix all three varieties together! Many mornings I will put 1 tea bag each of black, green and wu-long tea in a small pot with boiling water. I let that steep for about 5 minutes and remove the tea bags. I sip 1 cup for breakfast and then another with lunch. The different tastes of each blend together really nicely and make for a tasty warm drink (again, it can also be enjoyed like iced tea, which I know is how Mike enjoys it best.)
Black, green or Wu-Long , whichever you choose, 1-2 teas each day is a wonderful addition to your healthy eating plans. As with anything, be very mindful to your body’s response to the caffeine amount and let your body be your guide.
All the best in Health and Fitness
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