Photo credit to Mike Kniec
Now that the cold season is here, you’re probably reaching for the kettle more and opening the refrigerator door less when you’re thirsty. Tea is a great ‘anytime’ warm drink, but it might seem like every time you go to the grocery store, there’s more choice to choose from. How do you choose the right tea?
What type of tea is right for me?
Regardless of the reasons you’re drinking tea, it’s important to make sure you do your homework so you can have the brew right for you. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, a general idea is that the darker the tea, the higher the caffeine content. Below are some of the most popular types:
White tea: the least processed tea, this light and delicate type often is the base for fruit-flavoured tea.
Green tea: bright and smooth, green tea has many popular varieties, including sencha and matcha.
Oolong tea: due to the production process, the flavour, aroma and colour falls somewhere between green and black teas.
Black tea: known by darjeeling, assam, and ceylon, amongst other names, black teas are the most well-known.
Pu’erh tea: this tea is made of aged, fermented leaves to achieve a uniquely dark taste.
These next two are usually marketed as teas, but are not made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Sometimes they named as tisanes to differentiate them from true tea. Since they aren’t made from tea leaves, they are all caffeine free.
Rooibos: naturally caffeine free, this type is actually made from a legume plant.
Herbal: made from blends of herbs, there are many different popular types to select from, like peppermint and chamomile.
Obviously, you’re not going to be able to find your next favorite tea just by reading descriptions on a screen. However, you’ll be able to pick apart the aisle a bit better next time and be able to find yourself a great tea to try as the coldest season of the year is upon us.
Now that winter approaches the northern hemisphere, so does cold and flu season. Despite your best efforts, no matter how many times you wash your hands or take your vitamins, you might still get sick. Now that you know what kind of tea you might enjoy, know that it’ll help when you’re ill as well!
Why should I drink tea when I’m sick?
You’ve probably heard that you should drink hot beverages when you’re feeling unwell, but why? In a 2009 study, research conducted at Cardiff University (Wales) examined whether or not hot drinks relieved the symptoms of the flu or common cold, compared to drinks at room temperature. It was found that the hot drink provided relief from the below common symptoms:
- runny nose
- sore throat
By comparison, the room temperature drinks only relieved a running nose, coughing and sneezing.
By choosing tea as your hot beverage, you cannot only get in the warm drink you need, but you can also help address what is ailing you more directly. For example, ginger tea is known for reducing nausea, while chamomile tea can address an upset stomach. Take it one step further and boost your tea with lemon or honey. Adding lemon can give you a little extra vitamin C, while honey can help soothe a sore throat.
Even though you may not have the appetite to drink as much fluid as you normally might while you’re sick, it’s important to keep hydrated, as you should be replenishing your fluids as much as possible. Why not drink something that you enjoy? As there are many types of tea available, you can ensure you don’t get sick of the same old tea by rotating through different variations.
What if I’m not sick yet?
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and haven’t gotten sick yet, or maybe you don’t even get sick during cold and flu season. Tea is still a wonderful drink to have, and is considered very healthy. Whether considered as a substitute for drinks of a higher sugar content, like commercially available mochas and lattes, or as simply as a way to intake more fluids, it’s a great idea to drink tea.
What else can tea do?
Though a lot of research has been done into the health benefits of tea, governing bodies have been careful to be specific that despite positive evidence that green tea has shown a reduction in risk of a variety of cancers (including breast, prostate, ovarian and endometrial), the evidence is weak. The inconsistencies in studies have been attributed to a variety of reasons, including variability in preparation, amount of tea consumed, the amount of compounds able to be absorbed by the body, and lifestyle and genetic differences of individuals participating in the studies.
However, there has been research regarding the benefits of tea when suffering from less serious conditions. For example, black tea consumption has shown to lower cholesterol. It is important to note, however, that this particular study noted that the consumption of the tea was done while also having a diet moderately low in fat.
That being said, just because tea isn’t a miracle cure-all doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good thing to drink! Tea is a wonderful drink to have at any time for any occasion — so pull out your favorite sweater, put on a good movie, and put the kettle on for tea.