Did you know the most popular beverage in the world, besides water, is NOT coffee? Actually, it’s hot tea, and over 2 billion people around the world drink it daily.
Americans often like to stay painfully busy, but many international cultures covet the ritual of taking a break in their day and making the perfect cup of tea. Tea can also provide a nice caffeine boost, it can soothe a tired throat, and it can warm you up on a chilly day.
If you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of options in the tea aisle, trust us, you’re not alone. Let’s take a quick glance at some popular types of tea. And then we can discuss the benefits of drinking hot tea (just don’t burn your mouth!).
There’s a lot of different ways to prepare a cup of tea
“True” teas are brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis shrub, which hails from East Asia. Lots of different true teas exist, and the variations depend on the size of the leaves, how the tea is processed, and what sorts of aromas are added after processing.
Most true teas fall into one of six categories: white, green, yellow, oolong, black, and post-fermented.
White tea leaves are picked young and quickly dried. Green leaves are picked and then immediately heated. Yellow leaves wither and discolor before being dried. Oolong leaves are bruised, dried in the sun, and partially oxidized; similarly, black leaves are treated the same as oolong, just more intensely.
Any other types of tea that do not fit the profile for “true” teas are called herbal teas. These tea bags contain all sorts of blends and mixes — leaves, barks, flowers, buds, roots, and other unique infusions. Herbal teas are typically culture-specific, as they have often been created and passed down as either tinctures or medicines.
A few types of herbal teas are peppermint, chamomile, fennel, sage, raspberry leaf, lemon, ginger, rose, and lavender.
The benefits of drinking hot tea far outweigh any small potential downsides
Besides the ritualistic aspect of preparing and sipping tea, most cultures enjoy it because of the anti-oxidant effects and polyphenols. Green teas and black teas typically garner the most attention from the medical community, but more research about all kinds of teas is in the works.
Some incredible benefits of drinking tea include:
- Cancer prevention: researchers have noticed significant connections between drinking black and green tea and reducing chances of cancer, especially endometrial cancer
- Lowered blood pressure: patients who regularly consume tea tend to report lower blood pressure, but researchers aren’t sure if the connection is physical or more associated with lifestyle in general
- Weight management: the polyphenols in black tea have been connected to lowered obesity rates; and green teas are known to enhance metabolic rates
- Brain health: more and more research is drawing conclusions between tea and lowered odds of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s
- Heart disease prevention: 3 cups of green tea daily has been linked to reduced cardiac deaths by up to 26%
- Glaucoma prevention: in a survey of 1,678 people, researchers found that people who drank at least 1 cup of hot tea per day were 74% less likely to have glaucoma than those who did not
Bottom line, science has yet to find any real downsides to drinking tea — but it has found some unique and desirable benefits. And considering that billions of people have enjoyed the beverage for hundreds of years without issue, it’s safe to say that hot tea could be a nice addition to your physical, mental, and emotional health.