Whether it’s the peak of summer, dead of winter, hot off the kettle, or iced to perfection, tea is a go-to comfort beverage. Tea has been loved for both its variety in taste and health benefits for centuries, becoming integrated into many cultural traditions and histories. Today, we’ll be taking a deep dive into all of the health benefits swirling around in your daily cup of tea. Not sure which tea to try first? We’ll also go over the three main types of tea and their unique flavor profiles.
Three Types of Tea
From wild blueberry to rose hips and elderberry, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when picking out a tea to try. The world of tea flavors is vast and never-ending, but there are three main tea types that make it much easier to narrow down your selection: black, green, and herbal tea. Each type has its own distinct flavor notes and health benefits, but are usually combined or “decorated” with other flavors, such as rose hips, hibiscus, lemongrass, and many others.
Black tea is your standard tea. Add a splash of milk and sugar to your liking, and you’ve got yourself a cup of what is usually thought of as a traditional cup of tea. English and Earl Grey tea are the most common types of black tea that you’ll see in the grocery aisles. Black tea has a bolder, stronger taste than most teas, and is typically paired with milk, honey, lemon, or a sweetener. This tea can be enjoyed hot or iced. When served over ice, black tea is often cut with water or lemonade to mellow out its strong taste. A cup of black tea also serves up a slew of health benefits along with its potent flavor. Black tea is known for its high levels of antioxidants, similar to that of green tea. It’s also proven to help lower blood sugar and cholesterol when consumed over time on a daily basis. Black tea also has caffeine, so it can give you an energy boost, but it’s not the ideal drink to wind down with at the end of the day.
Green tea is one of the most popular types of tea, and has been consumed for centuries, with its earliest mention in history being 2737 B.C. Green tea is loved for its earthy, mellow taste, high caffeine content, and a plethora of health benefits. Green tea has been proven to help prevent cognitive decline, improve skin health, aid in weight loss, and in some cases, it’s been cited for lowering the risk of certain cancers. Green tea goes through minimal processing before it reaches your hands, leaving it rich in certain natural and plant-based antioxidants, such as catechins. Catechins have been proven to prevent and fight off disease, prevent cell damage, and even lower the risk of dementia.
In a recent study conducted in Beijing at the Chinese Medical Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, research revealed that drinking green tea over a long period of time is the optimal way to reap all of the health benefits it has to offer.
“The most exciting finding for us was that adherence to the tea-drinking habit for a long term could strengthen the health benefit of tea,” shared Dr. Dongfeng Gu, who authored the study. “Further study needs to identify the causal role of tea intake using randomized controlled trials in the future.”
Flavor-wise, green tea pairs well with lemon, jasmine, and peach. Similar to black tea when served over ice, it’s commonly paired with lemon or cut with lemonade. Green tea is typically higher in caffeine content compared to most teas, so it’s a great substitute for your morning cup of coffee if you’re looking to change up your daily kickstarter.
The umbrella of herbal teas encompasses many varieties and flavors of tea, but the one common factor is that they are all caffeine-free. Herbal teas are a great option if you’re looking for a tea that packs a punch flavor-wise which you can also drink closer to bedtime. Hence, most “sleepytime” teas are a combination of herbal teas that evoke a sense of calm, such as chamomile and lavender. And all of those unconventional tea flavors that you might encounter on the shelves at the grocery store are typically derived from some kind of herbal tea strain. Additionally, herbal teas are best known for supporting our immune system and reducing stress levels. Ginger, elderberry, and echinacea teas are all known for their immune-boosting properties. The next time you feel allergies or a case of the sniffles creeping up, try replacing your daily coffee with a cup of herbal tea.
Where To Buy Tea With Sustainability In Mind
With so many ethically sourced and sustainable tea companies to buy from, it’s important to consider where you’re getting your tea from.
The Republic of Tea always has an interesting tea blend up their sleeve. This classic tea company has been producing a variety of ethically harvested tea strains for over 25 years and remains to do good in the world while serving up unique and flavor-rich tea varieties. This fair-trade tea company also donates regularly to nonprofits, so you can feel even better about where you’re spending your hard-earned money. Their popular line of Non-Profit Teas supports charities such as the Whole Planet Foundation and the Dr. Marine Rose Foundation. If you’re looking for your next favorite cup of green tea or seeking out a more adventurous flavor profile, The Republic of Tea has a superb tea library to choose from.
Autoimmunitea’s clever name comes from its mission to create tea blends that help minimize symptoms of autoimmune conditions. The company donates a portion of sales to autoimmune-related research organizations as well. Their innovative line of loose leaf tea blends includes everything from strains for fighting fatigue and inflammation, to aiding sleep and brainpower. The best part? All of their blends are USDA Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, fair trade certified, Paleo-friendly, and created alongside Naturopathic Doctors. You can learn more about Autoimmunitea’s mission and explore their unique line of teas here.
Steeping Your Tea To Perfection
Let’s talk tea prep. Tea comes in two forms: bagged and loose tea leaves. If you’re drinking bagged tea, all you’ll need is hot water, tea, and your favorite mug. If you’re going the loose leaf route, you’ll need a crafty device called a tea infuser. If you’re in the market for one, look no further than Fred and Friends’s innovative and eco-friendly tea infusers. This works the same way as a tea bag would, but it’s reusable and lets you decide how much tea you want to pack inside. After you’ve got your hot water and tea ready to go, check the brewing instructions on your tea’s packaging. Usually, tea should steep for 3-5 minutes, but if you’re looking for a bolder taste, you can leave it in longer. If you want a more mellow cup, take your tea bag or infuser out sooner than the recommended time.
Preparing tea is a therapeutic and meditative activity for many. Taking the time to rest and practice mindfulness as your water is boiling or tea is steeping can become part of a daily routine that serves as a reminder for all of us to take the time to slow down and breathe in this busy and chaotic world. The next time you’re waiting for your tea to finish steeping, consider putting your phone down and taking the time to do a breathing exercise, practice a short meditation, or even put on relaxing music. Whatever you choose to do, making tea can be a centering part of a daily routine to help you live life more “care-fully.”