If you’re a tea drinker, you’re probably not splurging on Da-Hong Pao tea very often. That’s a tea that dates back to the Ming dynasty. At $1.2 million per kilogram, it’s the most expensive tea in the world. And while it’s less expensive, you might not be keen on panda dung tea, either—that’s a tea made from the dung of pandas who only eat bamboo and tea leaves.
But there are lots of different types of tea that are more affordable and more approachable. Tea can be a warm and comforting beverage choice, especially for chilly mornings and evenings. Tyler Florek, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, shares some of the potential health benefits of different types of tea.
- Less inflammation and oxidation. Green tea contains polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Increased alertness and focus. Green tea scores more points with these brain-boosting gains.
- Improved sleep and relaxation. Chamomile tea can provide these benefits.
- Better hydration. “Drinking tea is a great way to stay hydrated and can help to break up the monotony of just drinking water,” Florek said.
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Florek said it’s possible that rooibos tea can improve these heart disease risk factors.
- Soothing an upset stomach. Mint tea can help alleviate nausea and stomachaches.
- Lower odds of diabetes and heart disease. People who drink tea tend to have less risk of developing these conditions, Florek said. But it’s not clear if tea should get the credit for these benefits. “It is unclear if it’s the compounds in tea that cause lower risk or that tea drinkers tend to have healthier lifestyles overall,” he said.
What about the caffeine in tea?
Caffeine stimulates your brain. You might want a boost of alertness in the morning to start your day. But too much caffeine can make you jittery and anxious. And caffeine late in the day can lead to a struggle when you try to fall asleep.
You can choose your tea based on how much caffeine you would like to consume. Black tea tends to have the most caffeine and contains about one-third to one-half as much caffeine as coffee. Green tea has less caffeine than black tea. Decaffeinated tea contains little or no caffeine, and herbal teas do not contain caffeine.
Can drinking tea be unhealthy?
There are a couple of things to be careful of when you’re drinking tea. First, consuming high amounts of tea could lead to kidney stones. That’s because tea contains oxalate, which can bind to calcium to create kidney stones.
Second, the government doesn’t regulate the herbs found in some types of tea. Plus, herbs could potentially interact with medications you might be taking. “Always read your ingredient label and double-check with your doctor,” Florek said.
The bottom line
Tea might be more than a cozy drink to enjoy—different types of tea might be beneficial to your health. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and talk to your doctor to check whether your favorite tea might interfere with any medications. To learn more about how your food and drink choices can influence your health, connect with a Banner Health dietitian or health care provider.
These articles cover more about the health effects of different beverages: