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Tea: The Four Kinds and Their Potential Benefits
By Gary F. Zeolla
Tea is not as popular in the USA as coffee, but it is still widely consumed. And it is more popular than coffee in most other parts of the world.
Tea is generally considered to be healthy. But is it really? This article will look at its potential benefits by looking at a variety of studies on tea reported on various news websites. But first, it would be good to consider the four different types of tea available and their varying caffeine content.
Types of Tea and their Caffeine Content
Most Americans are familiar with green and black tea. But there is also white and oolong tea. All four types of tea come from the same plant. But the tea leaves are processed differently for each type.
Oolong tea is one of many teas from Camellia sinensis, a shrub or evergreen tree native to parts of Asia.
Other teas that come from Camellia sinensis include black tea and green tea. And although these teas have some similarities, they differ in fermentation and processing. Oolong tea, for example, is a semi-fermented tea made from wilted fresh leaves (Very Well Health. Does).
This tea-making process is called oxidation. Exposing the tea leaves to air causes them to ferment, and the length of time a tea maker allows the leaves to oxidize impacts the tea’s color, flavor, and to an extent, its nutritional content….
Oolong teas fall somewhere in between green and black tea. Products sold range from low to high levels of oxidation, and the color of the tea gets darker based on how long the leaves were left to ferment. Greener oolong teas tend to have a rich, earthy taste, while darker varieties offer a more roasted flavor (WebMD. Health).
White tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant….
Green tea and black tea are also made from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, different processing methods give them their unique flavors and aromas.
White tea is the least processed of the three teas. Because of this, it retains a high amount of antioxidants (Healthline. 10).
The mentioned difference “in fermentation and processing” leads to the differing colors and caffeine content of each of these four teas.
White tea is the lightest color, green tea is next, then oolong tea, then black tea is the darkest. The caffeine content parallels the color. White tea has the least, with about 32 to 37 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. Green tea is next with 24 to 39 mg. Oolong is next with 29 to 53 mg. Black tea has the most, with 64 to 112 mg (MNT. Which tea).
Compare those numbers to coffee, which has about 100 mg per cup. Note that herbal teas come from different plants altogether, they are not caffeinated, and will not be discussed in this article.
Potential Benefits of Tea
Best of Life. Drinking Tea Really Does Boost Your Heart Health, New Study Confirms.
Researchers found that drinking black or green tea every day helps reduce a key cardiovascular risk factor that’s associated with heart attack and stroke….
Foods that contain flavonoids promote heart health….
The study explained that drinking one particular flavonoid-rich beverage every day helps promote heart health. The team found that regularly consuming green or black tea successfully helped lower the subjects’ risk of AAC [abdominal aortic calcification], and that black tea was the group’s main source of food-based flavonoids….
The study also looked at other food sources of flavonoids, and found that they are not all created equally when it comes to heart health benefits. Fruit juice, red wine, and chocolate—often touted as being flavonoid-dense—did not appear to lower one’s risk of abdominal aortic calcification, according to the ECU study.
Flavonoids are the source of antioxidants in plant foods. Tea, like coffee, is a plant food, as tea is made from tea leaves, which of course come from a plant.
The last paragraph is interesting. It means tea is more powerful of a source of these beneficial flavonoids than other beverages and foods promoted as being heart healthy.
Newsmax. Drinking Black Tea Boosts Longevity.
In the study of nearly 500,000 men and women who took part in the U.K. Biobank, researchers found that compared with people who didn’t drink tea, those who drank two or more cups a day lowered their risk of dying by 9% to 13%. And it made no difference if they took milk and sugar with their tea, or also drank coffee….
“I think it’s really good confirmation that tea can be a part of a good diet, a healthy diet,” said Lauri Wright, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an assistant professor at the University of South Florida.
It goes back to inflammation, she said, which seems to trigger so many chronic diseases. Tea has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help offset inflammations that can lead to disease.
Wright, who wasn’t part of the study, added that tea by itself won’t counteract the effects of an unhealthy diet, but tea can amplify the benefits of a healthy diet.
First off, as a commentator on Newsmax noted, “‘...lowered their risk of dying by 9% to 13%.’ You cannot lower your risk of dying...everyone is going to die eventually.” Another responded, “Badly phrased.”
You often see such phraseology in health studies, and it is always “Badly phrased.” Your risk of dying is 100%. The correct wording would be “reduced their risk of dying during the study period.” In other words, reduced the risk of premature death. But no matter what you do, we will all die eventually.
That said, this was a large study, and I was surprised they could find a sufficient number of Brits who don’t drink tea to conduct this study. But the important point is, this was black tea, while green tea seems to get most of the press about being healthy.
Moreover, the believed manner of benefit makes sense—reducing inflammation. That is important, as inflammation is proving to be a major risk factor in many health issues. But, as is noted, drinking tea is just part of the puzzle. One’s overall dietary habits need to be considered. You cannot just add tea to an otherwise unhealthy diet and somehow correct its deleterious effects.
Newsmax. Drinking Coffee and Tea May Lower Risk for Dementia and Stroke.
The researchers — led by Yuan Zhang of Tianjin Medical University in Tianjin, China -- observed that those who drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee along with the same amount of tea every day had a 32% lower risk for stroke, and a 28% lower risk for dementia, compared to those who drank neither.
But don’t toast the news with a big jolt of caffeine just yet.
The findings don’t prove that coffee and tea protect against either stroke or dementia — only that there is an association….
The lowest risk for stroke and dementia was seen among participants who downed either 2 to 3 cups of coffee daily, 3 to 5 cups of tea, or a combined 4 to 6 cups of both….
So what’s likely protective about coffee or tea?
A previous study pointed both to “caffeine and the antioxidant actions provided by the plants that coffee and tea come from,” said Diekman, a St. Louis food and nutrition consultant and sports dietitian.
This is an interesting study in that it compares coffee and tea. Both were protective, but apparently coffee more so. At least, you need to drink less of it than of tea for the purported benefit. That makes sense if in fact caffeine is one of the reasons for the benefit, as coffee contains more caffeine than tea.
However, most other studies point to the antioxidants in coffee and tea rather than the caffeine for the benefits. The only way to know for sure would be to also compare decaffeinated coffee and tea to the caffeinated versions.
Newsmax. Drinking Tea Daily Linked to Reduced Risk for Diabetes.
Researchers studying the impact of tea found that drinking four or more cups of black, green or oolong tea every day was linked to a 17% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the course of a decade….
Li’s team did a meta-analysis of 19 studies that included more than 1 million adults from eight countries.
This time, the researchers found that with each cup consumed, tea drinkers reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 1%. Compared to people who didn’t drink tea, adults who drank one to three cups daily reduced their risk by 4%. Those who consumed at least four cups a day reduce their risk by 17%. This happened regardless of location, gender or type of tea.
A “meta-analysis” is when researchers look at a variety of previous studies on a subject. In that way, you end up with a much larger sample size and less chance of confounding factors being an influence. In this case, nineteen studies were considered. And they concurred that tea drinking reduced the risk of Type II Diabetes.
This study is also interesting in that it included three of the four types of tea: black, green, and oolong, and all three were equally protective. However, once again, Newsmax commentators make some astute observations:
I’m thinking losing 50 pounds and a sensible diet might do a lot more.
For people who eat a lot of processed foods, and have diabetes, all tea in the world isn’t going to change a thing. Eat whole, single food ingredient foods and get some exercise and the diabetes will go away. [Expletive]. even if you don’t exercise if you stick with non processed foods, you are going to see a huge change.
Cutting out sugar and any foods or beverages containing sugar will reduce your chances of diabetes more than all other factors. That was learned during WWII when sugar was strictly rationed for civilians in England, and the incidence of diabetes fell dramatically.
Develop Good habits. 10 Health Benefits of Drinking Oolong Tea.
1. It can improve gut health….
2. Oolong tea contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants….
3. It is relaxing….
4. Oolong tea can help prevent diabetes….
5. Drinking oolong tea can help you manage your weight….
6. It helps prevent cardiovascular disease….
7. It can help improve skin health….
8. Oolong tea can help improve your teeth and bones….
9. Oolong tea decreases inflammation….
10. Oolong tea can help prevent certain cancers.
Each one of these claims is then followed in this article with a discussion about them, with linked-to supporting studies Each one of those studies would need to be investigated as to their trustworthiness. But overall, there does appear to be quite a bit of support for the health benefits of this more unique form of tea.
Style Craze. 17 Proven White Tea Benefits That Will Surprise You.
White Tea Benefits
1. Helps In Weight Loss
2. Aids In The Treatment Of Acne
3. Can Be Beneficial In Pregnancy
4. Helps In The Treatment Of Cancer
5. Improves Hair And Skin Health
6. Can Help In The Treatment Of Diabetes
7. Enhances Energy And Alertness
8. Helps Reduce Inflammation
9. Can Be Beneficial To The Kidneys
10. Improves Liver Health
11. Is Good For The Heart
12. Is Good For The Teeth
13. Improves Reproductive Health
14. For Hypothyroidism
15. Can Improve Memory
17. Helps In Digestion
In this article, each of these items are links to fuller discussions of the claims, with again, often though not always linked-to studies supporting the claim. Again, each study would need to be investigated. But again, there does appear to be much benefit to drinking white tea.
A Caveat on Oolong and White Tea
I need to mention a caveat in regard to oolong and white tea. You can only find products that are grown and processed in China. If you, like me, have vowed to never again purchase products made in that Communist dictatorship after they unleashed Covid on the world and given their many human rights abuses, then you are out of luck in terms of using these two unique teas.
However, black and green teas are readily available that are grown and processed in countries other than China, though not necessarily in the United States. My favorite brand, for instance, is Equal Exchange for both black tea and green tea. They are grown and processed in Central America.
Being organic and with a dedication to “A Vision of Fairness to Farmers” they are a bit more expensive than other teas. But for some reason, I tend to be sensitive to other brands of black and green tea, but not to this brand. Therefore, you might what to check this brand out if you also have a sensitivity problem with tea. However, if you have a significant allergy, consult your doctor first.
There is much evidence for the purported health benefits of tea. Just don’t think adding tea will make up for an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle. But still, if nothing else, tea will give you a “kick” to help you get through the day, though not quite as much as with coffee. But if you, like me, do not like coffee, then tea is a great alternative.
Healthline. 10 Impressive Benefits of White Tea.
MNT. Which tea has the most caffeine?
Very Well Health. Does Drinking Oolong Tea Have Health Benefits?
WebMD. Health Benefits of Oolong Tea.
Creationist Diet: Second Edition
Tea: The Four Kinds and Their Potential Benefits. Copyright © 2023 By Gary F. Zeolla.
Disclaimers: The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet, exercise, or health improvement program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.
The above article was posted on this site August 1, 2023.
It originally appeared in the free email newsletter FitTips for One and All.
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