Tea And Health Benefits Of Black, Green, Oolong, Yellow And White Tea
Tea is a beverage having a sweet smell. It is mostly drunk hot especially in the Asian countries and next to water is the most consumed beverage in the world.
Tea gives the body the much needed stimulus and energy to shrug off the early morning lethargy. The caffeine in tea provides this.
In India as well as many other countries including the Middle East and UK, tea is mainly drunk hot. In the US and Canada the majority prefer it cold as iced tea.
Tea is the national drink of UK especially England. In Burma a pickle of tea leaves, known as laphet, is also made which is a national delicacy.
About The Tea Plant - Camellia sinensis
Tea has its origin in India and China.
Camellia sinensis plant, amongst the Camellia genus of plants, has been bred selectively over hundreds of years to produce the finest qualities of teas.
Two major tea varieties - the small leaved, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is used to produce Chinese tea and the Indian teas, the Darjeeling and Nilgiri teas while the larger leaved, Camellia sinensis var. assamica is used to produce Assam tea.
In some parts of Japan, Camellia sasanqua, is used to produce tea.
Many other species of Camellia can produce a beverage similar to tea.
Green tea, black tea, in fact, all different varieties of teas except the herbal teas are made from the leaves of the plant, Camellia sinensis.
In the wild state, the tea plant grows to a tree of height ranging from 30-50 feet but when it is cultivated for commercial use in tea plantations, it is maintained at about waist height or about 3 feet. This is done by constantly pruning the tea plant. Pruning ensures that new shoots with leaves keep coming out as well as making it easier to pick the leaves.
Tea plants need a warm climate to survive though they can be grown at altitudes up to 7000 feet. Tea plants at higher altitudes offer the best teas in terms of a richer, smoother flavor as the leaves mature slower.
A mature tea plant is productive for about 100 years though it takes anywhere between 3 - 5 years for it to mature. When leaves are picked, the bud and 2 leaves at the tip of the young shoot are picked. Tea leaves are mostly picked by hand.
Though growing conditions have a bearing on the production of different types of leaves, it is the processing method that affects the ultimate tea quality and characteristics.
Effect Of Adding Milk And Lemon To Tea
Adding milk to tea has shown to bind the milk protein casein to catechins, especially EGCG in tea and block the beneficial effects of tea in heart disease and cancer. However, this binding has a protective effect in that the binding with tannin in tea renders tannin harmless.
Soy milk has no casein and thus has none of this binding effect.
Lemon juice is usually added to green or black tea before drinking. It helps to lower the intestinal pH which helps in increasing the absorption of more catechins.
Nutrients In Tea
Tea contains catechins which are antioxidants. White, yellow and green tea contain the highest concentration of catechins as they are much less oxidised or fermented as compared to oolong and black tea.
A variety of polyphenols and tannin are also found in tea. Also present are theamine, an amino acid, the stimulant caffeine, the bitter alkaloid theobromine and theophylline, a bronchodilator drug which relieves asthmatic symptoms.
Teas Of Different Stages Of Fermentation
Types Or Varieties Of Teas
The basic method to process the different varieties of tea is the same except for some variations.
The higher the oxidation or fermentation, the lower the levels of polyphenols and higher the caffeine levels.
The lower the fermentation or oxidation, the higher the levels of polyphenols and lower the caffeine levels .
The major types of tea are :
- Green Tea.
- Black Tea.
- oolong Tea.
- White Tea.
- Yellow Tea.
- Post Fermented Tea.
Green Tea Leaves
It is believed to have originated in China about 4000 years ago.
Green tea has undergone the least processing and hence fermentation. Because of this it has the highest levels of the polyphenolic antioxidants amongst all the varieties of teas. It is especially high in the catechin polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3- gallate. It is this polyphenol that is the most beneficial in offering the multiple health benefits of green tea.
After the leaves are harvested, they are steamed for a very short time just enough to make them soft and pliable and before they change color. Leaves are then rolled and dried with hot air or are dried in hot pans till they are crisp. The final product is a greenish yellow tea.
Green tea has an astringent flavor and contains the least amount of caffeine.
Some examples of green tea are: Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro, Dragonwell and Gunpowder.
Health Benefits Of Green Tea
Of all the tea varieties, the most known and used for its various health benefits, is the green tea. It is used in a big way for its weight reducing properties.The health benefits are attributed to the polyphenolic antioxidants in this tea especially the catechin polyphenol - EGCG, of which it has the highest concentration.
Other health benefits include but are not restricted to just the following, are:
- Green tea helps to reduce weight by keeping the metabolism raised for a long time thus burning calories and fat. It especially targets the abdominal fat.
- The catechins in green tea slow down the action of the lipase enzyme which results in slower conversion of calories into fats.
- Due to its LDL cholesterol reducing, HDL cholesterol increasing and triglyceride reducing action and blood thinning property it helps in preventing atherosclerosis as well as reducing blood pressure, risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Green tea kills cancer cells by various mechanisms and ways and stops their further growth. Cancers of the stomach, bladder, prostrate, pancreas, lungs, esophagus, ovary, colorectal, breast etc are those whose growth is arrested and killed.
- It protects against Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and age related cognitive decline.
- Green tea improves the body's immunity status and increases endurance.
- It reduces inflammations in arthritis, increases bone density, prevents dental caries, colds and flu.
- The low caffeine content of green tea suppresses the appetite.
- Green tea protects the liver from toxins and inflammations of viral hepatitis.
- Traditionally it has been used to treat indigestion, headaches and depression.
- Green tea benefits the kidneys, is a diuretic and aids in eliminating excess fluids from the body.
It has been found in animal studies that the consumption of black pepper while drinking green tea increases the amount of EGCG absorbed. Piperine in black pepper causes this increased absorption.
Therefore, if green tea is consumed with meals do not forget to add some black pepper to your favorite foods.
About Matcha Green Tea Powder
Matcha green tea is powdered green tea. The process of making this tea is totally different starting right from the type of leaves to be picked to the processing and finishing the final product.
Miss Olive has written an exceptionally wonderful hub on Matcha green tea which you can read at the link below.
- Benefits of Matcha - Green Tea Powder
A variety of sites claim that just one cup of matcha tea is equivalent to 10 cups of regular steeped green tea. After my research, I can see why. The health benefits of matcha tea far exceed those of regular green tea. When you drink matcha you inges
Black Tea Leaves
The harvested leaves are spread and air dried till they are soft, pliable and lose about a third of their moisture. They are then rolled to break the leaf cells which releases enzymes needed for fermentation.
The leaves are spread out once more but under temperature and humidity controlled conditions to assist fermentation. This results in the tea leaves attaining a dark copper color.
The leaves are then hot air dried to produce the distinctive colored, brownish black tea which is the regular tea available.
Some examples of black teas are : Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Ceylon, Jin Junmei and Jiu Qu Hong mei.
Health Benefits Of White, Yellow, Oolong And Black Tea
In case you are wondering why I have given the benefits of all the other teas together, let me tell you that all the different types of teas give the same benefits in varying degrees. This is because of the different concentrations of polyphenols, the main active principles in all teas.The more a tea is oxidised or fermented the more polyphenols it loses. However, higher fermentation leads to a corresponding increase in caffeine concentrations.
Green tea has been taken as an example to enumerate the various health benefits accruing due to the intake of tea as these benefits of green tea have been the most studied. White and yellow teas are not very popular though their benefits are being recognised in the west now. The production of these teas is very less.
Oolong tea benefits fall somewhere in between the benefits of green and black teas.
Oolong Tea Leaves
Fermentation level of this tea lies somewhere between the green and black types of teas. It is a greenish brown tea whose color, flavor and aroma also lies between the green and black varieties of teas.
Oolong tea leaves are picked on a sunny day. The bud and lower 3 leaves are picked. They are exposed to the sun for sometime. Then they are taken indoors to dry and complete the fermentation process.When the leaves are 30% red and 70% green the leaves are rubbed to bring out the aroma and flavor. They are dried in hot woks till they are crisp.
Some examples of oolong tea are : Golden cassia, Red robe, Dong Ding oolong, Darjeeling oolong and Oriental beauty.
Yellow Tea Leaves
Processing of this tea is different as instead of drying the leaves immediately, they are stacked and covered. Gentle heat is given in humidity controlled conditions. Due to the longer drying period, the leaves take on a light yellow color and do not contain the grass like taste of green tea.
Yellow tea is not produced much and is the least known of all the tea varieties. However, it retains all the health benefits of green tea but the taste is more sweet and subtle.
Some examples of yellow tea are : Junshan YinZhen and Huoshan Huangya.
White Tea Leaves
Tea leaves selected for making white tea are the immature leaves of just opened buds which have a good amount of very fine hair. Such leaves produce the best quality of white tea. The method to produce white tea is the simplest of all the teas.
The tea leaves in this variety have undergone the least amount of oxidation. The oxidative process is stopped by dry baking the leaves in an controlled environment. It is produced in very less quantity and is more expensive than the other teas. Not very well known outside China, this tea is gaining recognition in the west now.
Some examples of white tea are : Silver needle, Silver tips, Darjeeling white tea and White monkey paw.
Compressed Post Fermented Tea
Post Fermented Tea
Post Fermented Tea
It is a black tea that undergoes a second natural oxidation and fermentation in the presence of air, humidity and natural microflora. It may be allowed to age from several months to many years to improve its flavor.
It is mellower and sweeter in taste and leaves a more pleasant aftertaste than black tea. It is also known as dark tea and even black tea.
In China, post fermented tea is known as black tea, which is not to be confused with the black tea as is known in the west. Black tea as is known in the West, is known in China as Red tea.
It is sold in compressed form in various shapes like bricks, bowls, discs etc.
Some examples of post fermented teas are : puerh, Hunan Biancha and Sichuan Zhang Cha.
Temperature, Steep Times, No Of Infusions For Different Teas
Water Temp in degees Centigrade
75 - 80
4 to 6
4 to 6
2 to 3
Post Fermented Tea
3 to 6
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements.
Some of my other hubs on Healthy foods
- 14 Health Benefits Of Green Tea
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- Health Benefits Of Jaggery or Gur
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How To Brew Different Types Of Chinese Teas In Various Teaware - An Excellent Video
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© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly