February 29, 2012

Tea Types and There Good and Bad Health Benefits

Tea has long been thought to have health benefits for the heart and in the prevention of cancer. Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness.

The degree of processing the leaves of camellia sinensis determines whether a tea will be green, black or red (oolong). Green tea is the least processed. These are simply steamed quickly before packaging. Black and red teas are partially dried, crushed and fermented. The length of fermentation, which causes the leaves to blacken, determines whether the tea will be red or black.

Types of tea
White Tea: White tea is similar to green tea, in that it's undergone very little processing and no fermentation.
But there is a noticeable difference in taste. Most green teas have a distinctive 'grassy' taste to them, but white tea does not. The flavor is described as light, and sweet. You should steep white tea in water that is below the boiling point. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.

Green Tea: Green tea is nothing more than the leaves of the camellia sinensis that have been processed a certain way. Green teas, like white teas, are closer to tasting like fresh leaves or grass than the black or oolong. They are also lower in caffeine and have higher antioxidant properties. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.

Oolong Tea: Oolong teas are the most difficult of the four types of teas to process. The best way to describe oolong tea is that they are somewhere in between green and black tea. This is because they are only partially oxidized during the processing. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke. In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.

Black Tea: Black teas are the most consumed of the four types of teas. They are the highest in caffeine. Black tea is the most popular tea in the world. It is the tea most widely used in making iced tea and English tea. Since the process of making black tea consists of three main stages, ‘cut’, ‘torn’ and ‘curled’, it is also known as C.T.C tea. After cutting, the leaves are first spread on shelves called withering racks. Air is blown over the leaves to remove excess

Pu-erh Tea: One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol. Pu-erh teas come from the Yunnan province in China and have a strong earthy flavor. Pu-erh tea is moderate in taste, not as strong as black tea. It can cut grease, help digestion, warm stomach, help produce saliva and slake thirst, dispel the effects of alcohol and refresh one’s mind. Pu-erh tea has functions of lowering the triglyceride, cholesterol, hyperuricemia in the body.

Herbal Tea:
Made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots steeped in hot water, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. Their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used. Varieties include ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea. Limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas, but claims that they help to shed pounds, stave off colds, and bring on restful sleep are largely unsupported.

Can Tea Be Bad for Your Health?
Most teas are benign, but the FDA has issued warnings about so-called dieter’s teas that contain senna, aloe, buckthorn, and other plant-derived laxatives.
The agency also warns consumers to be wary of herb-containing supplements that claim to kill pain and fight cancer. None of the claims is backed by science and some of the herbs have led to bowel problems, liver and kidney damage, and even death.
The FDA cautions against taking supplements that include:
  • Comfrey
  • Ephedra
  • Willow bark
  • Germander
  • Lobelia
  • Chaparral
These cautions aside, nutritionists say to drink up and enjoy the health benefits of tea.

Sleep problems.
Many people are very sensitive to the effects of caffeine. If they have a tea or a coffee within four or five hours of bed time they will have a lot of trouble getting to sleep. If you are having sleep problems already it might be a good idea to take a look at how many teas you are drinking. Many people do not realize that tea is quite high in caffeine and too much tea can affect how well you sleep.

Kidney damage
Some scientific studies have shown that the oxalates in tea can cause some kidney damage. However, this has only been shown in people who drink a lot of tea – a lot more than most of us drink.
Although there other drawbacks associated with tea none of them have been definitively proven by science. The main message is that excess is not a good idea. If you are drinking more than about four cups of tea a day you are more likely to have some negative effects.

Don’t add milk
Scientists have found that adding milk to your tea actually detracts from the health benefits. German researchers have found that the relaxing effect of a few cups of ordinary black tea on the arteries is completely wiped out by milk.

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