Tea is the second most popular drink in the world, behind water, and for good reason. Besides its delicious taste and versatility, tea has a number of significant health benefits.
Up your antioxidants
Tea contains high levels of catechins, a type of powerful antioxidant. Some studies have estimated that black and green tea have up to 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables.
"The antioxidants in tea are certainly the biggest health benefit," says Zoe Bingley-Pullin, nutritionist, chef and founder of Nutritional Edge.
While black and green teas are great, Zoe says the best choice is white tea. "That's not black tea with milk and two sugars but a type of green tea that has an even higher antioxidant level and is less treated and processed," she explains.
"Green tea also helps to inhibit dietary fats being absorbed so therefore is excellent for weight loss. Try drinking Green tea 30 minutes before eating as it helps to suppress the appetite."
Flavour and variety
Once you get hooked on tea you'll be amazed by how many blends there are beyond the usual English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
There are many different varieties of green and white teas and an even bigger range of herbal teas, including ones made from everything from hibiscus, lavender, chamomile and rose petals, to licorice, peppermint and ginger.
"One tea I absolutely love is Rooibos tea," says Zoe. "It's an African tea that is non-caffeinated and has a slight redness in colour, which also contains some carotene (Vitamin A)."
While tea has many health benefits, it also contains caffeine and therefore needs to be consumed in moderation. Tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but it is still present in black, green and white tea.
"The recommended daily intake of caffeine is 250-300mg a day, but I think we should be consuming even less than that as caffeine over-stimulates the adrenal glands and most of us are over-stimulated in that respect anyway," Zoe says.
Fortunately, herbal teas do not contain caffeine and often come with their own health benefits. Here are Zoe's favourite warming winter recommendations:
- Rosehip tea: Extremely high in Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-mucosal. Do not boil this tea, as this will deplete the high Vitamin C content.
- Licorice root tea: Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar. Licorice tea is brilliant to have after meals as a sweet substitute and it is also wonderfully soothing on the digestive system.
- Ginger tea: Fantastic for helping reduce nausea. It can be used for everything from morning sickness and PMT to motion sickness and also helps reduce bad cholesterol.
- Dandelion tea: A fantastic alternative to coffee. It has a rich flavour like coffee and is similar in colour. Dandelion tea is wonderfully stimulating for the liver and has a slightly bitter taste, which helps stimulate digestion.