Which Tea Is for Me?
June 12, 2000 -- Let's take a new look at an old drink. In numerous studies,
tea drinking has been found to protect against chronic diseases such as cancer,
heart disease, and now even osteoporosis. Stroll down the beverage aisle of
your supermarket and you'll find that your options for tea are abundant. But
not all teas are created equal. And not all forms of tea seem to deliver the
same benefits. Keep these things in mind:
- Pick a color. Both green and black teas come from the same evergreen plant
-- Camellia sinensis -- and therefore have similar antioxidant
protective abilities. Most tea in the United States is the black variety, while
the milder green tea is more common in Asia. Drink the type you prefer.
- Buy bags. Because crushing tea leaves releases more antioxidants, tea
brewed from bags is better for you than tea brewed from leaves.
- Brew it yourself. Many bottled or canned tea beverages contain very little
tea and a lot of sugar and additives -- as much as six teaspoons of sugar per
8-ounce serving. Brew your tea for five minutes to get the full antioxidant
benefit. Hot and iced teas are equally good for you, as long as the iced tea
isn't diluted substantially by ice.
- Go for the caffeine. Although tea contains only about one-third the
caffeine found in coffee, preliminary studies show that the caffeine may
actually help to increase tea's cancer-protection effects. Caffeine is a
diuretic and stimulates urination, and you can actually get dehydrated by
drinking too much tea or coffee -- so take it easy.
If you're sensitive to caffeine or drink tea in the evening, you'll be
heartened to know that decaffeinated tea is just as rich in antioxidants.
- Reconsider herbs. Herbal teas are made from altogether different plants and
spices -- and often contain no tea leaves at all. Fruits and spices make for
flavorful alternatives, but if you want tea's antioxidant protection, be sure
that tea is listed as the primary ingredient.
Sue Licher, a WebMD contributing writer from Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, has written about health, energy conservation, business marketing, and
other subjects for a variety of publications, television programs, and web