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Healthiest Tea: Which has the Most Antioxidants?

    Most people enjoy a cup of tea every morning or after a busy day at work. You can choose between teas brewed from the Camellia sinensis plant (Green, black, white and oolong teas) or herbal tea (made from dried flowers, herbs, spices and fruits). Drinking tea comes with numerous health benefits, but the highest benefit comes from the antioxidants found in tea.

    Antioxidants like tannins and catechins can improve your skin’s health, improve your cardiovascular health, boost your immune system and also reduce the risk of cancer. All teas have antioxidants, but some have higher levels, which make them better than the others. Below is are the best tea types and their health benefits.

    White tea

    This variety comes from the new growth buds of the tea plant. Its production process involves steaming and drying the leaves and buds to activate oxidation. Minimal processing also helps preserve the oxidant content, therefore making it better in antioxidant content compared to other varieties. This type also has the lowest caffeine content and is easy to drink. The high levels of antioxidants help in boosting skin health by reducing wrinkles and breakouts. Another health benefit is that it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help in the control of conditions like dandruff.

    Green tea

    The production of this variation is similar to that of white tea but is made from more mature leaves. The health benefits are linked to its high catechins content. This product also contains high levels of polyphenols, which also has antioxidant properties.

    According to a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Epigallocatechin gallete, a polyphenol found in this variety, can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by reducing the cytotoxicity of the disease. This polyphenol may also slow down the growth of tumor cells for some cancers like pancreatic cancer.

    Other varieties of green teas depending on their production process, include Bancha, Gyukuro, Sencha and Matcha.

    Matcha: This is green tea in powder form. The plants used to produce matcha are grown in the shade for weeks to boost Chlorophyll levels, which gives it its bright green color. The leaves are then ground into powder after drying.

    Sencha: The leaves for producing Sencha are harvested early and infused in water to give it its unique, pleasant taste.

    Bancha: This variety comes from the same tree as the Sencha, but it is harvested later. Bancha is the variety with the lowest caffeine levels among green teas and also one of the cheapest and most readily available teas.

    Gyukuro: Just like Matcha, the leaves used to make Gyukuro are grown in the shade. However, this variety has a stronger and more intense flavor because the production process is similar to that of Sencha.

    Black tea

    This variation may have earned its position as the leading variety in terms of worldwide use because of its leading caffeine levels. You can find it in almost every store and tea bag online shop in the form of tea bags or loose leaf tea. The difference between this variety and other teas is that it is fully oxidized. Oxidization converts catechins to tannins, which gives it its black color. This variety may have lower antioxidant content than the less oxidized teas, but it maintains its antioxidant content even after the oxidation process.

    Black tea also lowers the rate of cardiovascular variations of the blood at night according to Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Centre. The analysis showed that people who took three cups per day, which has a total intake of 288mg caffeine and 1.29g of polyphenols, experienced a decrease in blood pressure variations. The consumption of two cups of black tea per day, which provides 300g mg of polyphenols, also limited blood pressure variations in patients with primary hypertension after taking a fat-rich meal.

    Hibiscus Tea

    The hibiscus variation takes the top position when it comes to antioxidants in herbal tea. This product only is found in tea bags online shops has a sour flavor and red color and can be enjoyed hot or iced. This variation has high antioxidant levels that could be higher than that of black and green counterparts. The anthocyanins that give it the red color also add antioxidants activity in the plant.

    A 2015 study published by National Library of Science suggested that extracts from hibiscus leaves and calyx have antioxidant effects and limit the growth of tumors. You can buy hibiscus and any other herbal tea online if they are not available in the local stores.

    Oolong Tea

    This variation has a taste and preparation similar to that of the black teas, but it undergoes a shorter fermentation period. Oolong also has lower caffeine levels and a unique aromatic flavor. When it comes to health benefits, this variation is known to activate enzymes that target triglycerides and, therefore, helps in weight loss.