Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, exceeded only by the most necessary of all liquids - water. Tea is an integral part of everyday societal life in many of the world's most populous countries. This has made tea the most popular beverage for a huge swath of the world's people
Tea is prepared from leaves, leaf buds stalks of different varieties of a warm weather evergreen called camellia sinensis. The most popular types of tea are green and black tea. A few other types include ginseng tea, herbal tea, oolong, rooibos and white tea.
The degree of processing the leaves of camellia sinensis determines whether a tea will be green, black or red (oolong). Green tea is the least processed. These are simply steamed quickly before packaging. Black and red tea are partially dried, crushed and fermented. The length of fermentation, which causes the leaves to blacken, determines whether the tea will be red or black.
Recent research shows that any tea derived from camellia sinensis has cancer-fighting properties. The leaves of this plant contain chemicals called polyphenols, which give tea its antioxidant properties. Polyphenols in tea have been known to protect cells from oxidative stress, which by definition is "adverse effects occurring when the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in a system exceeds the system's ability to neutralize and eliminate them; excess ROS can damage a cell's lipids, protein or DNA." Polyphenols also can help prevent blood clotting, lower cholesterol levels, deactivate cancer promotion and overall help stimulate the immune system.
Tea also has fluoride for strong teeth, virtually no calories, and half the amount of caffeine found in an equally sized cup of coffee. Caffeine is a natural component of tea leaves. Whether decaffeinated tea has the same level of polyphenols as regular tea has not yet been studied.
Aside from polyphenols, tea also contains a variety of ingredients that are beneficial to ones health. These include theanine (an amino acid that is unique to tea), vitamins, minerals, and methylxanthines-which are diuretic agents. These are the components that are the source of the healthful properties of tea. These are known to delay aging, ease mental and physical stress, fight against high blood pressure, bacterial infections and help improve digestive and excretory system functions.
By drinking 2-4 cups a day of tea, you can reap in the numerous restorative and preventive tea benefits!