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Tea is one of the healthiest drinks around, probably only second to water. It has numerous health benefits, is full of vitamins and minerals, is low-calorie, and can give you a caffeine boost. With so many options to choose from – hot vs. cold, different varieties, etc. – it can be difficult to break into the world of tea and discover your preferences. However, considering all of the health benefits, tea is worth trying even if you’re new to it. Keep reading for a guide on all things tea for beginners.
It is All About Taste
Like coffee, tea is sometimes associated with a bitter taste. However, there are so many varieties and different flavors that there is a high chance you can find the type of tea for you through trial and error. Whether you’re using tea bags or loose leaf, fruit flavors can give a subtly sweet taste that is inviting to new tea drinkers. Lemon and berry are particularly popular, but don’t be afraid to try your favorite fruits to see if they work.
If you are looking to drink tea with a more natural taste, earl grey has a hint of orange flavor that cuts through the bitterness, making it very smooth to drink. Green and black teas may have more pronounced flavors, but can be brightened with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. No matter what tea you’re drinking, if you want more sweetness, a natural sweetener like honey is a healthy alternative to sugar.
An alternative to traditional tea is herbal tea, which is made by diffusing stems, flowers, and roots from plants, as well as herbs and spices. Because herbal tea isn’t made from the Camellia sinensis plant, in most cases it is caffeine free. With so many varieties to choose from for blends, tea drinkers have endless options to fit their taste preferences. Some of the most popular options that you should try first are peppermint, ginger, chamomile, and hibiscus.
Each tea variety provides different health benefits, so do some research prior to hitting the grocery store shelves. Generally speaking, people consider green tea to be the healthiest, because the leaves are the least processed out of any variety coming from the Camellia sinensis plant (green, black, oolong, white). Although black tea, which is the most processed, has some health benefits that green tea doesn’t. Herbal teas also share many of the same health benefits.
- Antioxidants – polyphenols are an antioxidant found strongest in green tea, but also in large quantities in all varieties from the Camellia sinensis plant. In fact, tea has higher levels of polyphenols than fruits and vegetables. Some herbal teas are also high in antioxidants, which help fight disease in the body. Antioxidants help to protect against cell damage, and may even aid in preventing cancer. Overall, they provide a great boost to your immune system, making tea a popular drink during cold and flu season.
- Sexual health – in a study of male lab rats, it was shown that black tea brew could improve sexual competence, including premature ejaculation and impotence. This effect comes from the aphrodisiacal properties found in tea. Tea may not act as an outright cure for these issues, but when paired with medication like Sertraline for premature ejaculation, it can aid in effectiveness.
- Heart – tea has been known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help fight heart disease. Inflammation in the arteries is a major risk for heart attack and stroke. However, loading up tea with sugar can mitigate these effects, making it important to use a healthy sweetener or none at all.
- Teeth – green tea has been shown to kill microbes in the mouth, which reaps many benefits for oral health. These microbes cause bad breath and tooth decay, both of which green tea can help with. Tea lowers the acidity of saliva too, which can help prevent cavities, and the anti-inflammatory properties can lead to healthier gums.
Hot vs Cold
Drinking tea hot or cold is merely a preference. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some major differences. Whereas hot tea brews in just a few minutes, cold brewed tea can take hours to properly diffuse. It’s also said that hot tea has better flavor, while cold teas have a more subtle flavor. This is generally true, as the heat gives off a great aroma and makes taste buds more sensitive to taste. However, if it’s a hot summer day or you don’t particularly love the flavor of certain teas, drinking it cold may be the better option.
Cold tea may also not have the same health benefits as hot tea. Depending on how well the tea is steeped, hot tea is more likely to contain a higher number of antioxidants than cold tea. Hot tea is better for digestion as well, as the heat soothes and activates the digestive tract.
Overall, tea is the healthiest alternative to water if you’re looking for a beverage with more taste. With so many options and flavors, as well as differing corresponding health benefits, there is nearly an available tea for every preference and need.