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Which tea should you choose?

From fighting diabetes and cholesterol to improving bone density, find out the unique benefits of these five teas and choose the one that works for you. By Shweta Gandhi

It’s not surprising that tea is the most-consumed beverage in the world after water, given its multiple health benefits. It contains age-defying anti-oxidants, a significantly lesser amount of caffeine than coffee, bolsters your immunity and is good for your bones. All teas come from the same plant camellia sinensis (except herbal teas like peppermint and chamomile), and the five distinct types available only differ in their geography, processing and growing conditions.

Black tea
This tea comes from leaves that are allowed to wither (whereby water is evaporated out) and then exposed to oxygen. This oxidisation leads to the leaves turning brown and black, which creates a strong colour and robust flavour. When brewed appropriately, this tea results in higher caffeine content as compared to the other teas.
Health benefits: High in anti-oxidants; helps reduce stress; fights diabetes, cancer, the flu, and heart diseases; lowers high blood pressure; good source of caffeine.

Puer tea
A mysteriously-aged black tea with its origins in China, Puer is fermented for multiple years—sometimes 30 years—resulting in a strong and rich flavour, with an earthy taste. The process of its production is still largely a Chinese secret, however, traditionally leaves were fastened in a cloth bag and compressed under weight. The older the tea, the lesser the amount of caffeine in it.
Health benefits: Reduces bad cholesterol and lowers triglycerides, increases good cholesterol and circulation; reduces blood sugar, arteriosclerosis and plaque in the heart; prevents strokes; good source of anti-oxidants; aids in weight loss.

Green tea
This popular variety of tea is just different from black and oolong in terms of its withering and oxidation process. After being picked, the leaves are allowed to wither slightly during the oxidation process, and then stopped very quickly by rapidly heating the leaves. This is why green teas have lesser caffeine when they’re brewed at lower temperatures and for less time. This is also a tea with subtle flavours.
Health benefits: Improves blood flow; lowers cholesterol; reduces the risk of stroke, cancer and heart-related diseases.

Oolong tea
This tea undergoes a partial oxidation, with detailed attention to timing and temperature. The most labour-intensive tea to produce, it is baked or roasted—a feature exclusive to this tea. This gives it a flavour that is not as robust as black tea and not as subtle as green tea. The caffeine content is between that of black tea and green tea.
Health benefits: Prevents cancer, tooth decay, osteoporosis and heart disease; boosts the immune system; sharpens thinking skills; improves mental alertness.

White tea
This tea uses the youngest buds and leaves of the plant, which are minimally hand-processed (not exposed to oxidation) giving it a light, subtle and naturally sweet flavour. Its caffeine content depends on its brewing temperature and steeping time—the lower the temperature and shorter steeping time, the less amount of caffeine extracted and vice versa.
Health benefits: Boosts cardiovascular health; lowers cholesterol; reduces risk of cancer; enhances weight loss; high in anti-oxidants; improves bone density.

Photograph courtesy: Haneburger/Wikimedia Commons

Categories:   Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

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