When you steep plant material in hot water, flavorful compounds are extracted from the plant and released into the water to make tea.
The most common type of tea is made from the leaves of the Camelia Sinensis plant, but many other leaves and flowers can also be used to make tea.
Not only are these herbal teas delicious, but they can also offer various health benefits.
Here are four teas that can help improve your health:
White, Green, and Black Tea
These teas are all made from the leaves of the Camelia Sinensis plant. They differ in taste and color depending on how they are processed.
White tea is the least processed of the three and has a light, delicate flavor. It uses young leaves and buds that are picked before they are fully open and are quickly dried to preserve their color and flavor.
Green tea is slightly more processed than white tea and generally has a more grassy, vegetal flavor. The leaves are picked and then immediately heated to dry them out.
Black tea is the most processed of the three teas and has an earthy, full-bodied flavor. The leaves are picked and allowed to oxidize—the green chlorophyll and other compounds in the leaves are released or converted into other compounds, which gives the tea its dark color.
All three of these teas are rich in antioxidant polyphenols and have been linked to various health benefits.
Studies have linked these traditional teas to health effects such as:
- reducing cancer risk
- reducing cardiovascular disease risk
- improving cholesterol levels
- protecting against neurodegenerative diseases
- relieving arthritis pain
- reducing bacterial and viral infection risk
- stimulating weight loss
Jasmine tea is a type of green tea that has been infused with jasmine blossoms.
The flowers not only add a lovely floral flavor to the tea but may also provide additional health benefits than green tea alone.
Jasmine tea is the most popular tea in Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is recognized as a “blue zone” where people tend to live longer and healthier lives. It is a place that is famous for having the most centenarians (people over 100 years old) and the longest disability-free life expectancy.
While jasmine tea is not the only factor responsible for the health of Okinawa residents, it may play a role.
Hibiscus tea is made from the dried flowers (and sometimes the leaves, roots, and seeds) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant.
This ruby-red tea has a tart, slightly sweet flavor and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants, including anthocyanins—pigments that give the tea its red color. These antioxidants can help protect your cells from damage and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. They may even help induce tumor cell death in some types of cancer.
Hibiscus tea can also be useful for managing high blood pressure, a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
You might view dandelions as pesky weeds in your yard uninvited, but these little plants have a lot to offer. Instead of killing them off with weed killer, you can harvest them and use the leaves to make dandelion tea.
Dandelion tea has a slightly bitter, earthy flavor. It can be suitable for when you have an upset stomach or are feeling bloated.
Dandelion tea may also help relieve pain associated with arthritis.
However, it may be dangerous for people with kidney disease and for people currently taking blood-thinner medications.
And while these and other herbal teas can be helpful for your health, it’s important to remember that they are not a substitute for medical care. If you have chronic health conditions or are taking medications, talk to your doctor before adding any new herbal teas to your diet.