The Health Benefits of Non-Herbal Teas, According to Type

These days, tea is available to purchase in most groceries and cafes, but the story of tea truly begins thousands of years ago, in China. Legend has it that in 2737 BC, Chinese Emperor Shennong sat under a Camellia tree and boiled some water to drink. Dried leaves from the tree floated down and infused with the boiling water, thus creating a drink that would go on to impact cultures across the globe for years to come.

Today, tea is lauded for its considerable health benefits, medicinal qualities and various flavor profiles. However, with so many different kinds of tea out there, it can be difficult to determine which type of tea is best for your specific palate and health goals on a given day.

Let’s explore the different kinds of non-herbal teas available to buy and drink and the health benefits that accompany each. If you want to learn about the health benefits if herbal teas, you can learn about that here.

Various leaves of tea and spices on wooden background

Health Benefits of Non-Herbal Teas

Let’s get technical here for a second: technically, the word “tea” refers to the processed leaves or stems from the plant Camellia sinensis. These teas contain a kind of natural chemical called polyphenol, which provides unique antioxidants, and they all contain caffeine. The level of oxidation of the leaves brewed then determines the type of tea. The most common kinds of teas from the Camellia sinensis plant are green, black, white, oolong and pu-erh tea.

Green

Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves and contains a large number of antioxidants compared to many other types of tea. This is because 20-45 percent of green tea’s weight is made up of polyphenols, which provide anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Furthermore, 60-80 percent of green tea’s polyphenols are catechins, like EGCG, which aid against free radicals that contribute to heart disease, clogged arteries, and even cancer.

Different kinds of green tea include matcha, sencha and tencha, and each one has its own distinct flavor.

Black

Black tea is made from fermented tea leaves and also has a very high caffeine content—which explains why black tea is known for its ability to help banish fatigue, raise energy levels and aid in mental alertness. It also can help relieve headaches. The main polyphenols in black tea include catechins, theaflavins, and thearubigins, which help remove free radicals, decrease the risk of chronic disease and help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Different kinds of black tea include Earl Gray, chai, and Darjeeling.

White

White tea is both uncured and unfermented making it the least oxidized of all the tea types. Therefore, white tea will only provide a modest amount of caffeine at best. Like most teas, white tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but white tea is said to have the highest amount of antioxidants. Additionally, it contains antibacterial properties, which help the body protect itself against various negative bacteria.

The most common examples of white teas found in American are white peony and silver needle.

Oolong

You can think of oolong teas almost as the lovechild between green and black teas. They result when the oxidation process halts just as the tea leaves begin to turn brown. While the semi-fermented oolong tea contains more polyphenols than black, it contains fewer than green and white and is often praised for its metabolism-increasing properties, which could help prevent obesity and aid in weight loss.

Pu-erh

Pu-erh tea is special, because it is processed in a way that makes it fermented as well as oxidized, rendering it a unique and dynamic brew. While there are plenty of pu-erh knockoffs, the truth is that no two pu-erh teas are identical. Pu-erh is thought to help with weight loss, aid in healthy digestion, reduce cholesterol and even make hangovers more manageable.

The Exception: Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is different from the above-listed teas, because it actually originated in South America, rather than China and comes from a whole different plant. Yerba mate comes from the dried leaves of the native South American rainforest evergreen holly plant, Ilex paraguariensis.

Yerba mate is widely praised for its antioxidants and health benefits and because it provides more regulated energy. In other words, you’re less likely to experience a huge caffeine crash after consuming a cup or two of this special special tea. Additionally, yerba mate is said to provide a boost of feelgood euphoria, similar to chocolate.

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33 comments

Danuta W
Danuta W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Beryl L
Beryl L2 months ago

Thank you.

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Greta L
Greta L2 months ago

tyfs

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Lesa D
Lesa D2 months ago

thank you Lia...

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Michael F
Michael F2 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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Val P
Val P2 months ago

interesting

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Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

I love tea, espececially when it's iced.

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Kathy K
Kathy K2 months ago

Thanks.

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Shae Lee
Shae L2 months ago

thank you for sharing

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Anne M
Anne M2 months ago

I only drink camomile,, it's a soothing/calming tea,, and caffeine-free...

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