Do all teas have health benefits?

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One of the most frequently asked questions about tea is always regarding health benefits in different teas (for example, does green tea have more than Oolong tea? What about white tea?). Tea's health benefits come from its compounds that occur naturally during its manufacture process. So perhaps it'll be more helpful to understand the process of manufacture and its impact on tea's flavour, colour, compounds within, etc. For example, while the process of fermentation intensifies the flavour of tea, it also brings out lots of caffeine. Therefore, although black tea contains more iron and an old qi-gong master used to tell me that it's very good for teeth, it's probably simply not so suitable for people with a stomach sensitive to caffeine.

Take green tea for example, both tea polyphenol and the catechin play prominent roles in green tea’s great anti-cancer potential and in tea-drinking’s benefits to our health. Catechin is a kind of polyphenol component. This term might sound abstract and crazily incomprehensible, to make it more tangible, it is that taste of little bitterness and astringency when we drink green tea. However, catechin does not survive high temperature. Especially with unfermented green tea, its catechin would be destroyed by boiling water (for more detailed information on preparing tea with appropriate temperature, please see my How to Prepare Your Brew How to prepare your brew). Different from catechin, tea polyphenol is dissolvable in water and would not disappear in boiling water. It is the process of fermentation that would destroy tea polyphenol. Green tea therefore has more tea polyphenols preserved (therefore also more vitamins) than black tea. Fully-fermented black tea, on the other hand, contains more caffeine, thus having more obvious and stronger diuretic and stimulating effect than green tea does. Tea polyphenol is quite an amazing nutrient as it contains protein, amino-acid, vitamins and minerals. It also has a great variety of vitamins: It contains an amount of vitamin A comparable to spinach and carrot, is rich in vitamin D, and 1g of tea polyphenol is enough for our daily supplement of vitamin C and E. Plus many others like vitamin B1, B2, B3, P, PP, K, inositol, pantothenic acid, etc. All these vitamins are vital to health and longevity.

But essentially what truly matters is, be it health benefits or delicious tea you're looking, it just has to be good quality tea, as straightforward as that. Because poor quality tea not only could be harmful (for example some cheap and mass produced Jasmine tea is spayed over with artificial fragrance to make it 'smells like strong jasmine') but also tastes awful. To grow and blend good tea is very labour-intensive and requires huge amount of skills and experiences. So price is a good guide but not an absolute one. Nor is being organic. Organic tea means it's grown and produced by following extra regulations on organic produce, it does not automatically equal to 'good tea' in tea lovers' standard. But this is another topic that I'll come back to later as it's best to be understood with what makes a tea good and how it is produced.

So do all teas have health benefits? Let's say at least most teas do. But whatever the health benefits are, they are still general guidelines and therefore always have to measured and assessed according to one's own physical conditions.

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