Many of us are proud coffee drinkers and we rarely drink tea, thinking that it is only for old ladies. Although we could choose the decaffeinated coffee, it could still have some effects on our body. Although coffee is proven to offer plenty of health benefits, drinking too much of it could be potentially risky. Alternatively, we could replace a couple cups of daily coffee with tea. Tea also has some caffeine, but only a third than coffee. Many cultures consider tea as a health drink and in some cases, it is integrated into an art form. For millennia, people in East and South Asia have known that tea is really good for us.
Camellia sinensis is an evergreen bush and its buds and young leaves are processes into tea. It is native to many areas of Asia and there are different variants of tea, such as black tea, red tea, oolong tea, yellow tea, green tea and white tea. These tea variants come from the same Camellia sinensis plant, but they undergo different fermentation and processing processes. In general, black tea is the most processes and white tea is the least processes, both represent two extreme ends of the tea variants. Regardless if the type we choose, it could provide us with enough health protection. It is believed that by drinking enough tea, we could less likely contract cancer, have stronger bones and have stronger teeth.
There are about 4000 natural compounds in tea and many of them are grouped as polyphenols. They are natural substances that can protect young, growing leaves from infection. Polyphenols also protect Camellia sinensis from the damaging effect of sun’s UV light. This allows seeds to germinate and spread. Polyphenols are actually flavonoids and they are considered as natural antioxidants. They will cleanse our body of nitrogen- and oxygen-based free radicals. These reactive chemicals may cause various tissue damages if left unchecked. The aging process can be accelerated, opening the door for various degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Free radical molecules have unpaired electrons and polyphenols in tea can neutralize them, thus eradicating the danger. Tannins and catechins are two other flavonoids found in tea. Studies show that the combined antioxidants in tea could be about 100 times more effective than vitamin E and vitamin C. They also offer anti-carcinogenic properties, which can reduce the risks of colon, oral, stomach and skin cancer. It is also found that regular consumption of catechins prevent the formation of pre-cancerous cells in breast, preventing the early stage of breast cancer from occurring.
Flavonoids in could also help prevent stroke and heart disease. They prevent LDL cholesterol from being oxidated. This process is the cause of various health problems, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and plaque buildup. In animals, consumption of tea flavonoids is known to enhance blood vessel performance and reduce blood lipids. These active chemicals are also known for their anti-bacterial performance, so people with gastro-intestinal distress due to the gut floral imbalance are advised to drink thicker tea.