Tea is a drink you can find across the U.S. and around the world. It’s the #2 beverage worldwide, second only to water. This is comforting to hear since both tea and water are extremely good for you.
Both herbal and black teas contain many, many health benefits including providing your body with easy access to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to dental health, boosting the body’s internal systems and much more. However, there are A LOT of tea varieties out there, and it can be hard to choose which type of tea to drink. While I recommend drinking any tea that you enjoy, I have ten specific recommendations listed below which include my favorites.
Ten Healthy Teas to Try
Whether you are new to tea drinking or you just want to branch out and try something new, the ten teas below are both healthy and delicious. Once you try them, I hope you’ll go to my Facebook page and comment or email me directly and let me know what you think!
Tulsi (also called Holy Basil)
Tulsi tea is a tea made from a member of the mint family that grows in India. It’s a traditional, Ayurvedic medicinal tea. Here in the Western world, it is often recommended to help relieve physical stress as it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This type of stress reduction can ultimately help increase immune function, which can protect your health as you weather cold and flu season, or aid you if you suffer from a chronic illness.
Tulsi tea is also used to help control blood sugar levels in hyper/hypoglycemic individuals and may even help people living with diabetes. Studies have also shown that the antioxidants found holy basil seed oil can slow the progression of cancer in animals – and has improved survivability.
Ginger is a pretty common herbal tea – but it has many excellent health benefits. It has plenty of Vitamin C along with several minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and zinc. The Vitamin C and zinc, along with the pore opening spiciness of ginger tea is what makes it such a soothing remedy for coughs, sore throats, and colds.
Ginger tea is also a great resource for nausea, intestinal distress, increased circulation, anti-inflammatory, stress relief, IBS, and more. It is used in Ayurvedic practices as a universal medicine.
One of my favorite uses of leftover ginger root is to make tea from it. You can do so simply by chopping up the fresh ginger, putting it in a pot and adding water. Boil the water for about 10 minutes and pour the tea. You can either sieve the ginger out as you pour, or leave it in. Ginger root is entirely edible and if you like extra spicy tea, including small pieces of ginger may give your mouth a little extra tingle. You can also add honey and a bit of lemon to this tea for added health benefits!
You have probably heard that green tea is great for you, but you may not know why. Green tea is jam packed with antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, H, and K, as well as minerals like manganese, zinc, chromium, and selenium. It also contains caffeine, which – we all know – can put a little pep in your step.
The vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals contained in green tea have made it a nutritional benefit for many organs including the brain, heart, circulatory system, and skin. This tea has also been found to help inhibit the spread of many diseases and increase the body’s immune system so that you can heal from diseases more rapidly. It’s also been found to help with diabetes, weight loss, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression.
Black tea is produced by fermenting and oxidizing tea leaves, which makes it uniquely delicious and gives it some wonderful health benefits. One of those benefits is that black tea contains tannins. Tannins are one of the reasons that red wine and dark chocolate have health benefits, but many people don’t know that other foods and drinks contain this nutritionally beneficial antioxidant. While tannins change the taste of black tea, they also can help to lower cholesterol, balance your ratio of good and bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, and stimulate the immune system. Also, many caffeinated teas (green, black, and white teas) have a balance of tannins and theanine, reducing the jittery feeling one gets from drinking any caffeinated beverage.
A lot can be said for drinking black, green, or white tea in place of energy drinks. Unlike high-sugar, artificially caffeinated energy drinks, these teas can help fight health difficulties like heart disease, gastrointestinal distress, asthma, high cholesterol, cancer, dental issues, osteoporosis, diabetes, stress, and more.
White tea is produced by picking new growth buds and young leaves of the tea plant, steaming or frying, then drying these leaves. This is different from other traditional teas as black tea is fermented and green tea is composed of more mature leaves that may be withered before steaming or frying. Either way, white tea is another very beneficial tea to drink. Much like green and black tea, white tea can help with weight loss, boost hair and skin health, protect against cancer and heart disease, increase energy, and more.
When it comes to traditional teas like green, black, and white teas, the health benefits are pretty similar. However, I encourage you to try varieties of all three teas and find which your taste buds most enjoy and which make you feel brighter, more energetic, and healthy. Each tea variety will affect your body in different ways, so be sure to explore beyond English Breakfast or Earl Grey teas into the many, many varieties of tea available.
Red, rooibos or “African bush” tea is an herbal tea that many people use in place of caffeinated teas because the taste is a bit similar and the brew is a reddish-brown, so it looks similar to black tea. However, red tea comes from the Rooibos plant of South Africa – not the Camellia Sinensis plants found most often in China.
Even though this herbal tea is not a traditional Chinese tea, it has many health benefits that you can enjoy. Red tea contains antioxidants and many minerals like calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. This tea has been known to relieve stress, reduce blood pressure, help with respiratory conditions, and guard against osteoporosis. Additionally, red tea contains quercetin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. This can help support a healthy heart and circulatory system, while also soothing any inflammatory conditions from skin problems to gastrointestinal difficulties. Because it has no caffeine, children and babies can benefit from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits provided by red tea, and it has been found to help in infant colic. Plus, it’s naturally pretty sweet, so most children find it palatable with only a little-added honey.
One of my favorite black teas is Oolong tea. This traditional, Chinese tea combines many of the qualities of both black and green teas as, unlike regular black tea, the fermentation process has been halted before reaching a full “black tea.” This makes Oolong both a bit sweeter than black tea and lighter in color.
Oolong is rich in minerals, theanine, and antioxidants and has many of the benefits of black tea, with fewer tannins. So, if you love black tea, but tannins give you a headache, or you suffer from migraines, you may want to try Oolong as an alternative.
I wrote pretty extensively about stinging nettle tea in a previous article – however, I wanted to mention it here as one of my favorites. Whether you gather nettles fresh in springtime or buy nettle tea in the grocery store, this tea contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. It can be used to help with seasonal allergies, eczema, kidney problems, joint pain, arthritis, pain, asthma, diarrhea, and more. Get all of the details on this tea and how to glean stinging nettles in the wild in my previous article.
It may seem counter-intuitive to allow tea to age. We’ve all “aged” spices in our cabinets and seen the gray, usually not spicy, result. However, Pu-erh tea is an exception to this rule. This tea is processed to encourage microbial fermentation after the leaves are dried, so it ages differently than other teas or spices. It comes in a cake instead of loose-leaf, and as it matures the taste and dimension of the tea changes. Not only is Pu-erh tea delicious, but it’s also highly valued in Chinese medicine as it contains high levels of antioxidants, theanine, and flavonoids. All of these fantastic elements can help to reduce stress, aid in digestion, work during a detox, reduce cholesterol, help with weight loss, and boost the immune system.
Additionally, because the tea has gone through a unique fermentation process, it contributes to producing beneficial micro-organisms in your body. These micro-organisms help to protect digestive health and may make Pu-erh a more effective weight loss tea than traditional black, white, and green tea.
You have probably heard a lot about kombucha. It’s been showing up in health food stores, kits for how to make homemade kombucha can be found throughout Portland. Even though kombucha is probably relatively new to you, it’s been used as a healing elixir in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. So, it’s certainly not new to the world of healing.
Kombucha is simply a fermented mix of black tea and sugar. The type of tea used and the sugar can come from many varieties. The sugar may be from fruit, honey, cane, or beets. The tea can anything from black to green, white, or oolong. The fermentation process changes both the taste of the drink and the health benefits it contains. For example, kombucha contains B vitamins as well as antioxidants, probiotics, and several beneficial acids. Because of the variety of nutrients kombucha contains, it can help with many aspects of health. Kombucha is often used for detoxification, digestion support, increased energy levels, boosting the immune system, repairing/preventing joint damage, easing pain caused by arthritis, cancer prevention, weight loss, and more.
Much like any tea, kombucha can be brewed at home – though the process is more complicated. However, it’s important to be careful if you do decide to go the home-brewed route. Many storebought kombuchas are pasteurized and are therefore considered more healthy by the world of traditional American medicine.
Teas have so many incredible health benefits, and they taste good too! If you are hoping to get a better, more in-depth understanding of tea, be sure to attend my upcoming tea tasting this April. The dates and details will be up on my Facebook Page shortly.
Additionally, if you are hoping to change how you eat and drink for better health, we offer nutritional counseling right here at AOM Health. Contact us today if you’d like to find out how food and good nutrition is the best medicine for your body.