“As much as you can eat healthily, it is also important to drink healthy”, said Kristin Chemsweth once. We focus so much on what we eat, that we often forget to drink the healthiest or the best beverage. The mention of beverage reminds me of a very special evening with my friends.
The Tea Drinkers
It was a perfect evening- with relentless rain pounding the glass windows, the chilly breeze making us shiver, the garden in its full bloom and the ground broken up into small islands by hundreds of rivulets- surrounded by the friends of my lifetime. All of us were the best of friends- similar professions, similar hobbies, same college, and similar lifestyles- and we all loved our cup of tea- and yet we were always at loggerheads to the type of tea to drink! Yes, as strange as it may sound, we never could agree on the same type of tea- we all liked our tea in different ways and passionately believed why our choice was better than the others.
Today, was no different. We were all sipping on our cup of tea- yet, no one had the same tea in their cups as the other. Yes, eight different cups of tea, on the same day, at the same time, in the same place.
Our host, a very gracious and warm host usually, was at the end of her patience when we all asked for our third cups of tea, she said, “ As much as I love having you all as friends, I don’t think I can make eight different cups of tea for the third time. Let’s decide on any one type, and all of us can have it!” Least did she expect a torrent of information hurled towards her with everyone telling her how their tea was better than the other? She sat down quietly as she listened to Pooja say, “ What better than Black tea?
Even though it is high in caffeine, it has some amounts of Theophylline (which dilates the breathing passages) in it and helps in protecting the lungs from the exposure to smoke, both cigarette smoking and environmental. Do you all know that black tea expands the airways and increases blood flow and so it decreases the risk of stroke and heart diseases? Moreover, we can add milk and sugar to it.”
Neha was quick to point out to Pooja, that Black tea was actually the highest in caffeine content, and so not a very healthy option. She continued, “ Green tea is surely the best option. It has anti-oxidants especially EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) which prevents against various cancers, relaxes and calms the mind and also prevents tooth decay!
How about Yellow tea?, said Ritika. “It is also similar to green tea with a milder taste and doesn’t have the grassy taste like green tea. Yellow tea is believed to have similar benefits to green tea such as preventing cancer and lowering cholesterol, it may be more effective than other teas in preventing liver damage also.”
Gauri chipped in, in her usual happy tone, “let’s settle for White tea. It has the lowest caffeine content, has anti-bacterial properties, prevents cancer as it has catechins, decreases cholesterol and high blood pressure levels and improves immunity. It also gives a radiant skin. So why not have white tea?”
Janhvi smiled and replied in her ever soothing and placating tone,” White tea thins the blood and so I can’t have it. It will interfere with the medicines that I am taking. I suggest Oolong tea. It is a traditional Chinese tea with a unique processing technique. It helps to inactivate enzymes in the body which reduce triglycerides” she said, giving us a pointed look, meaning that she had given the best option. She carried on to tell us, “ Oolong tea also contains niacin which detoxifies the body and anti-oxidants which may prevent tooth decay.”
I sighed and said, “Janhvi, all of that is right, yet don’t you feel that the taste of Oolong tea is not something everyone agrees with? How about we try Fermented Tea? It is the most naturally fermented in all of the teas. It doesn’t have a very strong taste which may be acceptable to everyone. Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years. It is rich in beneficial probiotics, antioxidants and can kill harmful bacteria which may help fight several diseases. I know it’s difficult to purchase, but then we do have it with us today.”
Avantika, our host, who was always found with herbal teas, seemed to get interested in the discussion, and said, “let’s try Herbal tea. All other tea is prepared from the Camellia plant- Black, green, yellow, fermented, Oolong and white- unlike herbal tea. Herbal teas are naturally free from caffeine and are of different types- Rooibos or Red tea, Mate tea, Chamomile tea among others- we can choose our flavors. They have multiple benefits, like, Mate tea is a mood elevator, helps in reducing bad breath and eases out a stomach upset. It even improves metabolism and reduces allergies.
Herbal tea has the highest anti-oxidants as compared to any other tea- almost 5 times more than green tea. It even tastes like coffee! Whereas Rooibos tea has anti-cancer properties and regenerates liver tissue, it helps in curing nagging headaches, insomnia, asthma, eczema, bone weakness, hypertension, allergies, and premature aging. The tea is absolutely free from caffeine content and is also low in tannins. And on the other hand, Chamomile tea also prevents the side effects of diabetes and stops the growth of cancer cells along with alleviating intestinal and stomach disorders, anxiety, insomnia, and mouth ulcers.
Amruta, always the one calling truce among us all and the voice of logic among us looked at all of us and said in her authoritative tone, “ how about we all settle for a glass of water since we have had two cups of tea already! Finally, any tea that you drink, will have its side-effects, how many ever benefits it has. I agree that tea has been declared as the national drink of India, and it is the most common beverage in India, second only to water. So, let’s stick to most popular and the healthiest drink for today!
|Type of Tea||Special characteristic||Health Benefits|
|Black Tea||Highest caffeine content, Prepared from Camelia plant||Anti-inflammatory protects lungs from cigarette smoking and pollution, reduces the risk of stroke, heart diseases|
|Green tea||High EGCG(anti-oxidant) content, Prepared from Camelia plant||Prevents cancer, Reduces risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, Reduces risk of stroke, Prevents tooth decay due to fluoride content|
|White Tea||Uncurled and Unfermented- Low caffeine, Prepared from Camelia plant||Anti-bacterial; Anti-cancer; reduces skin irritation; reduces cholesterol, blood pressure; improves immunity; Thins blood|
|Oolong tea||Marketed as weight loss supplement, Prepared from Camelia plant||Reduces cholesterol levels, improves bone strength, improves immunity, regulates blood sugar levels|
|Fermented tea||e.g. Kombucha, Prepared from Camelia plant||Rich in probiotics, anti-oxidants, kills bacteria|
|Yellow tea||Similar to green tea, Prepared from Camelia plant||Prevents cancer, reduces cholesterol levels, improves liver function|
1. Mate tea
|Richest in anti-oxidants, prepared from a wild shrub in Argentina||Mood elevator reduces bad breath, stimulates the brain, improves metabolism, reduces allergies, improves upset stomach|
|2. Rooibos||Or Red Tea, Prepared from Redbush in South Africa||Regenerates liver tissue, fights cancer, reduces skin irritation, relieves asthma, insomnia, and eczema|
|3. Chamomile||From chamomile plant||Hinders growth of cancer cells prevents side effects of diabetes|