Tea is loaded with powerful phenolic anti-oxidants that help to promote weight loss, reverse inflammation, fight cancer and prevent heart disease. There are dozens of varieties of tea, all made from leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The soil in which the plant is grown, the age of the leaves, the processing of the leaves after harvest and the addition of scents and spices all work together to determine the flavor, the health benefits and the name given to the particular variety of tea. Most teas fall into one of three general classifications: green, black and oolong.
- Green tea is made from relatively young leaves that are dried without fermentation.
- Black tea is made from mature leaves that are moistened and aged, to promote fermentation.
- Oolong tea is only partially fermented. Chinese oolong is aged longer than Formosan oolong.
Fermentation changes the chemical constituents of the tea leaf and may alter the health effects, although benefits have been demonstrated for all 3 types of tea.
Green tea has received the most attention, because of its high content of polyphenols called catechins. The most potent green tea catechin is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). Laboratory studies have shown that EGCG is a potent antioxidant that inhibits inflammation and promotes the death of cancer cells. Drinking green tea is associated with a reduced incidence of several types of cancer and of heart disease. Controlled testing with healthy people shows that:
- 2 cups a day decreases measures of oxidative stress and DNA damage in blood.
- 3 cups a day reduces the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, a significant factor in the development of heart disease. This beneficial effect of green tea is accompanied by decrease in inflammation of the arteries, another important factor in preventing heart disease.
- 4 cups a day of decaffeinated green tea produces significant antioxidant effects for cigarette smokers, whose bodies are exposed to greater oxidative stress than are non-smokers’.
In black tea, most of the EGCG has been replaced by less potent antioxidants called theaflavins. Although drinking black tea does not produce the same antioxidant effects as green tea, it has its own benefits.
- 4 cups a day improves the flexibility of blood vessels and increases blood flow for
healthy people and for patients with heart disease or high cholesterol levels.
- Regular black tea drinkers (2 cups a day or more) have a lower incidence of heart attacks and lower blood pressure than people who drink no tea.
- Drinking black tea helps to reverse a condition called leukoplakia, which is a precursor of oral cancer.
- Drinking green or black tea inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells for men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Oolong tea has shown a distinctive set of benefits in clinical trials with humans.
- 4 cups a day increases the blood level of adiponectin. As we explain in The Fat Resistance Diet, adiponectin is a hormone that reduces inflammation and speeds up your metabolism.
- 5 cups a day increases the metabolic rate and the rate of fat burning.
- For people with eczema, 4 cups a day of Formosa oolong produces a significant improvement in skin quality.
- For diabetics, 6 cups a day produces a marked decrease in blood sugar.
You should brew tea leaves for at least 3 minutes, in order to transfer the maximum level of beneficial catechins from the leaf to the beverage. If the caffeine in tea bothers you, either use naturally decaffeinated tea leaves or make your own decaf:
-First brew the tea for 30 seconds and discard the water. Most of the caffeine but only a small percentage of the polyphenols will have been removed. Then add more hot water and brew the tea for 3 to 5 minutes to extract the polyphenols.
If brewing tea for 3 minutes gives it too strong a taste, you can improve its flavor in two ways:
Brew your tea in a small amount of boiling hot water. After 3 minutes, add additional water to dilute the taste.
Add spices to sweeten the taste and enhance the aroma. The right spices bring anti-inflammatory effects of their own. Our favorite tea spices are those used to create our Slim Chai Tea: cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
Slim Chai Tea
2 Green Tea Bags
10 Whole Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
3 Cups of Water
Place tea bags and cloves into hot water and let steep for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bags and cloves. Add cinnamon and cardamom and mix well. Makes 3 servings.
These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug administration. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It should not be substituted for conventional therapy.
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