The next time you sip a cup of tea, think of its health benefits. For example, its antioxidant properties are purported to reduce the risk and progression of cancer, boost the immune system and increase metabolism.
There is definitely scientific evidence showing benefits of tea. There is countless research on EGCG, the antioxidant touted for its anti-cancer effect. - Holistic Nutritionist Yondi Lee, defending the scientific basis of tea and its health benefits
Tea contains naturally occurring compounds called catechins that are believed to have antioxidants that neutralise free radicals in the body. Some scientists believe these can slow down the ageing process.
There are several ways to categorise tea but according to tea specialists at Tea Chapter, Singapore’s largest teahouse, most tea houses grade them into six categories – green, white, yellow, oolong, red and black.
One of the purest grades of tea because it does not go through the process of fermentation. It is very high in antioxidants that boost the immune system, improve metabolism and may help to reduce the risk of lung, colon and skin cancer.
A joint United States-China study on the health effects of green tea done in China published in the International Journal of Cancer, 2001, found that people who drank one to three cups of green tea daily had a 30 per cent lower rate of stomach cancer, whilst those who drank more than three cups had a 61 per cent lower rate of the disease.
Drinking green tea can also help prevent arthritis. According to the Journal of Chinese Medicine, researchers at the University of Sheffield in Britain found that naturally occurring compounds in green tea can help prevent osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis caused by the break down of cartilage. It blocks the enzyme that destroys the cartilage.
In addition, green tea is said to help regulate blood sugar levels and prevents cavities and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).
The least fermented grade of tea which is why it is very high in antioxidants.
It is said to have 10 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E and contain high concentrations of polyphenols and catechins.
This helps fight the ravages of ageing caused by free radicals in the body, reduces the risk of lung, colon and skin cancer, and strengthens the immune system.
The Journal of Chinese Medicine also said that research carried out at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon in the United States showed that white tea is able to prevent mutations of DNA two to five times more efficiently than green or black tea, thus giving it greater potential in preventing cancer.
Similar to green tea but it is left to ferment till it is yellowish colour.
Little research has been done on the health benefits of yellow tea, but according to Tea Chapter’s tea trainers (specialists who conduct courses on tea appreciation), it helps reduce heat in the body, which is why it is recommended as a summer tea. It is also said to contain bacteria-killing fluoride, which prevents tooth decay.
Websites on the health benefits of tea like the Yellow Tea Guide also claim that the antioxidants in yellow tea prevent and ease cardiovascular diseases, promote longevity and improve mental agility.
Renowned as the ‘diet tea’, oolong is semi-fermented and famous for its weight loss properties.
Health reports by Chinese pharmacologists said that polyphenols in tea activate the enzyme that is responsible for dissolving fats in the body, which results in weight loss.
Tea Chapter’s tea trainers also said that the tea lowers the intake of fat from high-cholesterol meals and increases metabolism rates, while the tannic acid in oolong helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Red and Black Tea
These two types of tea are fully fermented tea leaves which contributes to their darker shade and stronger flavour.
According to the Journal of Chinese Medicine, a study of 3,430 adults in Saudi Abraida published in 2002 found that those who drank more than six cups of black tea (also known as pu er Tea) a day had a more than 50 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who do not drink tea, even after considering other factors such as smoking, diet and obesity.
Red and black tea are also said to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease and strokes, which is why tea specialists recommend them to people above the age of 40.
“However, too much will lead to stomach aches,” said Mr Kelvin Wo, spokesman for Tea Chapter.
Floral and Fruit Tea
They are considered modern fusions of Chinese tea and are not part of the six main grades of Chinese tea. These are a combination of tea and dried flowers or preserved fruits.
Floral tea is said to be good for eyes and skin and helps you feel relaxed.
“Chrysanthemum tea clears your mind and gives better eyesight,” said Mr Chin Chew Seng, a traditional Chinese medicine Physician.
Fruit tea, rich in vitamin C, is good for digestion and the complexion, sharpens eyesight and clears the taste buds, said Mr. Wo.
- Wong Mei Ling
Reading the leaves
Claims: Helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevents cavities and gingivitis.
Claims Helps fight the ravages of ageing, reduces the risk of lung, colon and skin cancer and strengthens the immune system.
Claims: Helps reduce heat in the body and is said to contain fluoride which prevents tooth decay.
Claims: The polyphenols in the tea activate the enzyme responsible for dissolving fats in the body while the tannic acid helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Claims: According to a study, those who drink more than six cups a day lower the risk of coronary heart disease by more than 50 per cent
Claims: Both red and black tea are said to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease and strokes.
Claims: Good for the eyes and skin and helps in relaxing the body.
Claims: Rich in vitamin C it is good for digestion and the complexion, sharpens eyesight and clears the taste buds.