Around 4700 years ago, Ancient Chinese people started their experimentations on different variations of Camellia sinensis, or what today we call tea, in order to discover and unlock their healthy effects on human bodies. Today, thanks to immense scientific studies and evidence, drinking tea is regarded as a healthy practice and has become one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world.
Although much of the studies have been related to green tea, many others were conducted on the other types of tea derived from Camellia sinensis, including white, oolong and black and results have shown many health benefits derived from drinking these types as well.
Tea is mainly produced in different parts of Asia, like India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and Indonesia while best quality teas are grown in places of high altitudes. Its different flavor and colors are determined by the manner in which fresh tea leaves are processed which includes the length of time for which they are exposed to the oxidation process. Black tea, among the oolong, green and white teas, is the most oxidized, thus it is generally stronger in flavor and contains more caffeine content than the other varieties. The leaves of green tea are exposed to minimal oxidation during processing. White tea is made up of leaves that are processed in a manner that allows them to wilt slightly and lose the rather grassy taste of green tea while undergoing minimal oxidation. While oolong is the tea that lies somewhere between black and green in oxidation. The level of oxidation ranges from 10 to 70%.
The health benefits of teas, like black, green, white and oolong are due to the presence of naturally occurring antioxidants and certain compounds found in them. These antioxidants, flavanoids and other polyphenols found in teas offer protection from heart diseases, cancer and stroke. Certain studies suggest that health teas help prevent and delay various cancers of the skin, lung, esophagus, stomach and colon. By promoting healthy arteries and veins and reducing blood clotting, certain studies suggest the protective role that teas play in reducing risk of heart disease and stroke. Flavanoids contained in teas provide protection from the damaging effects of free radicals that are naturally formed when the body uses oxygen. Tea leaves contain a significant amount of fluoride which helps in keeping tooth enamel strong, help reduce plaque and promote a healthy smile.
In order to extract potential health benefits from teas it is necessary to consume enough daily dose of this magic elixir. Consumption of 4 to 6 cups daily, for example, may produce favorable results as researched by certain medical associations. Daily consumption also provides a healthy dose of caffeine, about half as much as a cup of coffee but the actual amount depends on the tea blend, its preparation method and the brewing time.