Not olives; tea. Even though I am a big coffee drinker, tea is a significant part of my life. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. From Europe to Asia and places in between, this world loves tea and the U.S. is no exception. Lucky for all of us, tea is not only a flavorful alternative to water; it has health benefits.
Many people have their favorite type of tea: hot green tea or iced black tea. Sweetened or not, sometimes with a bit of milk or lemon, but not together. There are so many ways to have tea, I’ve even had them as gummy bears from Bissinger’s, but they don’t have health benefit, unless candy improves your mental health.
Green Tea vs. Black Tea vs. Herbal Tea
Green tea and black tea are the same plant. The difference is what happens after the tea leaves are picked: they are both dried, but green tea is steamed and black tea is oxidized (a natural process). Lesser known white tea is also from the same plant but a much younger leaf than green or black tea leaves. Herbal teas are not technically teas, but an infusion, since it has no tea leaves. Some herbal teas have health benefits, but they are different from the benefits of true tea. Most herbal teas are naturally caffeine free.
Health Benefits of Tea: Green and Black
Tea contains flavonoids, naturally occurring plant chemicals found in fruits, vegetables, cocoa, coffee, and wine. Flavonoids are antioxidants that contribute to heart health and may help reduce cancer. Tea is also linked to better bone health, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and reduce risk of cavities (yep in the teeth). Tea does have components that can potentially increase your metabolism, but it is estimate at about 50 calories a day if you drink enough tea. Not enough to make a difference. So, skip the green tea supplements – we don’t even know how much real tea is in those.
Tea can contribute to fluid needs or most people, since it is like flavored water with benefits. There is caffeine in both green and black tea. I often meet people who think green tea has no caffeine, but this isn’t true. Both types contain caffeine, about 40 mg per cup (compared to coffee’s 120 – 150 mg per cup).
When there is no added sugar, tea is calorie free. Depending on how tea is flavored, there could be added calories. I love the Lipton Blackberry and Orange Spice flavored tea bags, and these contain no calories. But the flavored and/or sweetened iced teas you buy in bottles or get at the restaurants have added calories. For example the medium-sized sweet tea at McDonald’s contains 180 calories and the medium peach or raspberry tea is 200 calories.
Iced or Hot?
Tea is versatile since it is common to have tea either hot or iced, the health benefits are found either way. So, enjoy it either way or both. I tend to go with hot in the cold months and iced in the warmer months. Go figure.
How do you like your tea? What is your favorite?