Anyone who knows me also knows that I love tea. It might be black, green, white, red, herbal or some combination of all of the above, but the common thread here is TEA. And I’m not alone. Did you know that tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world? When I found out June was National Iced Tea Month, I figured it was a perfect time to toast my favorite beverage.[/caption]
My reason for drinking it? Well there are many, so let’s start from the top:
- More interesting than water – Yep, simple as that. I get bored with water, and since I avoid sugar-laden juice and soda, tea has been my go-to drink for years. I will stay hydrated if I have my tea! When I was in college on the East Coast, tea was perfect to keep me warm on snowy days.
- Less caffeine than coffee – I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine, so coffee gives me a serious case of the jitters. The average cup o’ joe contains 135mg of caffeine vs 40mg in a cup of black tea. Check out the chart below to compare the caffeine content of coffee to different types of tea. I typically choose black tea in the morning and green or decaf in the afternoon. Rooibos or red tea is another favorite of mine, technically not ‘tea’ because it does not come from the Camellia sinensis plant, but is a delicious caffeine-free, antioxidant-rich choice.
- Antioxidants – All types of tea are rich in antioxidants, especially polyphenols. Even herbal teas, or tisanes, have their own unique blend of antioxidants that transfer into the water while they steep. Rather than obsess about which ones have more antioxidants, I just drink a variety and choose whichever flavor suits me at the moment.
- Relaxing – High quality black and green teas contain theanine, a compound which affects the brain waves and promotes relaxation (seriously, check out this study on theanine and anxiety). You’ll find theanine marketed as a supplement in your local health food store, but I’d rather enjoy a cup of tea. Theanine has been shown to counteract some of the stimulant effects of caffeine, perhaps one of the reasons that caffeine sensitive people like myself can enjoy tea without the typical caffeine response.
- Other health benefits – There are many. Tea can help reduce cholesterol levels. Drinking tea likely improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One study even showed a 12% increase in fat oxidation in men who were given tea compared to plain water or caffeinated water. Green tea has been shown to prevent many types of cancer, though the exact mechanisms are still being investigated.