Tea is a healthy beverage that can help soothe everything from pain and inflammation to a scratchy throat. Most of us reach for a cup of tea when we're feeling under the weather or want to warm up on a cold winter's day. But tea can also be consumed on a daily basis to help improve overall health.
Here, we've compiled a list of the best teas for health. From rich and earthy to airy and floral, you'll find a flavor you love to go with the health benefits. Want to get your hands on healthy teas today? Check out our collection of the best teas for health right here.
True teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, also known as the tea plant. All other teas are made from leaves, roots, and flowers of different plants—those teas are called herbal teas. True teas have been consumed for centuries and their origins can be traced back to China thousands of years ago. They're backed by the most scientific research and are renowned for a wide range of health benefits.
Green tea is considered one of the healthiest teas available. It's typically modestly processed and features delicate leaves that are either steamed or roasted. The flavor is earthy and grassy with notes of seaweed.
Green tea is packed with antioxidants and catechins including one particularly well-researched one called EGCG or epigallocatechin gallate. Research shows this tea catechin may help to protect heart health by decreasing inflammation and improving blood circulation (1). By improving circulation, drinking green tea helps to lower the risk of heart disease including heart attacks. The anti-inflammatory properties of the tea help to lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol.
Green tea may also help to accelerate weight loss by boosting metabolism and encouraging the breakdown of fats—rather than glucose—into energy (2). Studies have also shown that green tea may be able to prevent the replication of certain types of cancerous cells including those found in breast cancer and lung cancer. In some conditions, green tea may even be able to induce apoptosis of the cancer cells themselves. (3).
White tea is the least processed of the true teas. It's tea leaves maintain a natural green hue as the leaves are simply sun-dried after harvesting. It has less caffeine content compared to other true teas so you can drink it all day long. White tea also offers a delicate flavor that is slightly floral and nuanced.
Drinking white tea may help to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. One study found that drinking four or more cups of white tea per day may lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The antioxidants in the tea work to decrease insulin resistance and can regulate blood sugar levels (4).
Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea. The tea leaves are harvested, withered and then oxidized anywhere from 8 to 80 percent. The different oxidation levels result in a flavor profile that ranges from airy and sweet to robust and earthy.
Oolong tea contains theasinensins—chemical compounds that are responsible for a range of health benefits. Research shows these compounds boast antioxidant activity, decrease inflammation, have anti-cancer protective effects, and antimicrobial properties (5).
Black tea, like green tea, is known for powerful health properties and has been extensively researched. It has the highest caffeine content of all the true teas and can be a great replacement for a cup of coffee. It also contains an amino acid known as L-theanine, which helps to slow the absorption of caffeine and produces a longer-lasting kick of energy—without the jitters.
Research shows that drinking three or more cups of black tea daily can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (6). For Americans who are prone to heart disease, drinking tea is one easy way to improve health with very few side effects. Black tea contains polyphenols that help to streamline digestion and alleviate problems. One study found that these polyphenols help to promote the growth of good gut bacteria with inhibiting pathogens that can make you sick (7).
Pu-erh tea is one of the more unique types of tea. It is an aged tea that offers rich flavor and can be aged for more than 50 years. There are two types of pu-erh teas: raw pu-erh and ripe pu-erh. Raw pu-erh undergoes a natural fermentation process while ripe pu-erh tea is aged using wet cloths that encourage microbial oxidation. This tea offers robust flavor with notes of floral and sweet flavors paired with roasted, woodsy notes.
Pu-erh tea contains antioxidants that help to eliminate free radicals, detoxify the body, and prevent oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to a host of ailments from premature aging to mental decline and even the onset of Alzheimer's disease (8).
Rooibos tea is a South African drink made from the leaves of the red bush plant. This plant only grows in the Cederberg Mountains of Western South Africa. When infused in hot water, the leaves brew into a vibrant red hue with tart notes. It's a refreshing beverage both hot and cold and offers health benefits backed by research.
Research shows that rooibos tea contains antioxidants that boost overall health and may protect the liver. One study demonstrated that rooibos tea decreased oxidative stress and boosted liver function (9). Additional preliminary research shows that rooibos tea may have cancer prevention effects and can improve digestion (10).
Hibiscus tea is a delicious floral tea made from the calyxes of the plant. It brews into a magenta hue with a flavor similar to cranberries. It is the perfect blend of tart and sweet and offers medicinal benefits that have been enjoyed by indigenous societies for centuries.
Studies show that hibiscus tea demonstrates antitumoral properties. One such study published in the Brazilian Journal of Biology found that phenolic compounds and flavonoids helped to eliminate free radicals and prevent tumor growths (11). These properties may help to also prevent aging by protecting cells.
Hibiscus tea also boasts heart health benefits thanks to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One meta-analysis found that hibiscus tea significantly decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure (12).
Ginger tea is made from the root of the ginger plant. It offers a spicy flavor that invigorates taste buds and pairs well with lemon and honey.
Ginger tea is an excellent beverage when it comes to digestive health. Ginger has widely been regarded as an aid for nausea caused by morning sickness and motion sickness. In fact, ginger can be found in gum and natural supplements used to treat nausea.
Ginger tea helps to decrease inflammation in the stomach and intestines, helping the body process food more efficiently. The decrease in inflammation can also soothe muscles that cause stomach cramps. Research shows that ginger tea may also inhibit serotonin receptors, thus decreasing nausea and stress (13).
Peppermint tea is another excellent digestive tea. This tea is made from the leaves of dozens of peppermint plants including Nana mint and chocolate mint. Peppermint tea offers a refreshing flavor with a tingling sensation. The aroma is invigorating and the tea brews into a pale green hue.
Peppermint tea, like ginger tea, has long been used as a digestive aid. The menthol in peppermint tea helps to decrease inflammation and settle an upset stomach. The tea also boasts analgesic effects as it helps to reduce inflammation and pain. The main agents in peppermint tea's health benefits are phenolic compounds such as rosmarinic acid and flavonoids (14).
Chamomile tea is a beloved bedtime tea known for its calming effects. This tea boasts a delicate flavor that is reminiscent of crisp green apples. It's refreshing and soothing at the same time.
The most prominent health benefit of chamomile tea is its ability to increase relaxation and improve sleep. One study showed that chamomile tea significantly reduced depression scores while increasing the time spent in deep sleep cycles (15). A second study found that chamomile tea reduced the number of times patients woke up during the night and improved their alertness the following day (16).
Tea is packed with antioxidants, polyphenols, catechins, and other healthy compounds that boost overall health. Drinking tea may help to lower cholesterol, boost energy, and support immune health. The health benefits of tea also include easier weight management and it can also help you unwind and de-stress.
Boost your tea consumption and toast to your health. Choose from sweet, vegetal Japanese green teas or opt for robust flavor with European or Chinese black teas. Mix it up and try different types of tea to find what suits your taste buds. The best tea for your health is the one you'll actually drink. Choose a delicious tasting tea and enjoy a cup or two per day to reap the benefits of this healthy beverage.