Samurai means “to serve.”
Tamurai means “to serve through tea.”
AT TAMURAI TEA OUR GOAL IS TO HONOR THE SPIRIT OF HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.
FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES
Read the tea leaves, caffeine lovers. Tea is gaining ground over coffee. Even Starbucks is bucking up its tea menu. The health benefits of tea are one compelling reason: Green and black teas have 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and veggies, by one estimate.
Studies of humans and animals show that the antioxidants in black and green teas are highly beneficial to our health, says 82-year-old John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.
“I’ve published more than 500 papers, including a hell of a lot on tea,” says Weisburger, who drinks 10 cups daily. “I was the first American researcher to show that tea modifies the metabolism to detoxify harmful chemicals.”
Green tea, black tea, oolong tea — they all come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The leaves are simply processed differently, explains Weisburger. Green tea leaves are not fermented; they are withered and steamed. Black tea and oolong tea leaves undergo a crushing and fermenting process.
All teas from the camellia tea plant are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. These wonder nutrients scavenge for cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them, says Weisburger. “Astounding” aptly describes tea’s antioxidant power, he tells WebMD. “Whether it’s green or black, tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables.”
Black and green both have different types of antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. Thearubigins, epicatechins, and catechins are among those listed in a USDA chart. All are considered flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Brewed green and black teas have loads of those, the chart shows. (Herbal teas may also contain antioxidants but less is known about them, Weisburger says.)
“In my lab, we found that green and black tea had identical amounts of polyphenols,” he tells WebMD. “We found that both types of tea blocked DNA damage associated with tobacco and other toxic chemicals. In animal studies, tea-drinking rats have less cancer.”
Look at the world’s big tea drinkers, like Japan and China. “They have much less heart disease and don’t have certain cancers that we in the Western world suffer,” says Weisburger.
Green Tea, Black Tea: Packed With Antioxidants
“The scientific evidence about tea is evolving and I think it’s compelling,” Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, tells WebMD.
Tea is a great example of the past decade’s research of antioxidants, he says. “There is a pretty consistent body of evidence suggesting there is a benefit to tea. Tea is a very rich source of a specific kind of antioxidant called flavonoids.”
The bulk of research shows that regular tea drinkers, people who drink two cups or more a day, have less heart disease and stroke, lower total and LDL (often called “bad”) cholesterol, and that they recover from heart attacks faster.
Some laboratory tests also show that black and green tea may help boost metabolism to aid weight loss, block allergic response, slow the growth of tumors, protect bones, fight bad breath, improve skin, protect against Parkinson’s disease, and even delay the onset of diabetes.
In a study involving bladder cancer cells, green tea extract seemed to make the cancer cells behave oddly. They matured sooner, bound together tightly, and had a hard time multiplying. Another study found that men who drank oolong tea plus green tea extract lost more weight and total body fat, compared with men who drank plain oolong tea. Also, the green tea drinkers had lower LDL cholesterol.
Other small studies have found that the antioxidants from drinking tea can help prevent skin cancer. There’s also evidence that tea extracts applied to the skin (in a lotion) can block sun damage that leads to skin cancer.
All this research seems to suggest that if you want to do something good for yourself, drink tea. “It has no calories and lots of polyphenols. If you’re drinking tea, you’re not drinking soda — that’s a real benefit. Water doesn’t give you those polyphenols,” says Blumberg.
Weisburger recommends drinking six to 10 cups of black or green tea throughout the day, starting with breakfast. Switch to decaf tea midday, if you need to. “Flavonoids are unchanged by removal of caffeine,” he says.
The Healthiest Types Of Tea (The Official Ranking)
If I had to drink one thing for the rest of my life, it would be tea. When I am consulting patients at my functional medicine center, you will see me sipping on a variety of different tea elixirs.
The world of tea offers something for everyone, depending on your taste, mood, and health goals. All true tea comes from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. That’s right, black tea, green tea, white tea, and oolong tea all come from the same plant—everything else is technically a tisane! What makes them so unique in look and taste is the way they are grown, harvested, and prepared.
And while all contain antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral benefits due to their shared catechin polyphenol, antioxidant content, each type contains its own individual benefits, which can help you better decide which will be your go-to choice. With that, here is my official ranking of the top teas you should try!
Caffeine, antioxidants, and purity: the official ranking factors.
When ranking these teas, I took into consideration levels of antioxidants, caffeine amount, and propensity to have heavy metals.
Even though tea tends to have less caffeine than most coffee, all of these teas have caffeine. Whether caffeine is a positive or negative all comes down to your DNA—specifically, a gene called CYP1A2.
One variant of this caffeine gene causes the liver to break down caffeine very quickly. Those of us who have two of the fast caffeine genes handle coffee and tea like a boss. These fast metabolizers break down caffeine up to four times more quickly than those people who inherited one or two of the slow variant of CYP1A2.
Does that mean that if you are a slow metabolizer you shouldn’t have any caffeinated tea? For most people, the benefits of tea outweigh the caffeine amount. Just limit your amount, and if it makes you feel jittery, just cut back or go decaf (which still has some antioxidants)!
White tea tends to have the least, but for the rest, it really depends on the source, the amount you are using, and how long you steep your tea.
If you want to get the most epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) action out of your tea, or any tea, for that matter, stick to regular hot water. Adding different milks tends to have a dampening effect on the antioxidant bioavailability.
Heavy metals such as lead can be found in many plant products because it is absorbed from the soil. Tea is known to absorb lead at a higher rate. White tea, because it is picked sooner, is known to have lower amounts on average. An easy solution if you don’t want to just drink white? Avoid tea from China. Studies have found that Chinese industrial pollution causes the leaves to have higher lead levels. I suggest getting your tea only from Japan, where this is less of a problem. Also opt for organic tea whenever you can to further minimize any unnecessary toxins. Now, without further ado, let’s get into the rankings.
1. White tea: the virgin.
This tea is made from brand-new growth buds and young leaves of the tea plant. In order to inactivate oxidation, the leaves and buds are steamed and then dried. Since it is minimally processed, its antioxidant content is slightly higher than that of other varieties of tea. It is characterized by its light color and mild flavor. It is an extremely easy tea to drink and has the lowest caffeine content of all tea types, making it a great choice if caffeine isn’t your thing but you still want a little pick-me-up.
2. Green tea: the grounder.
The Beyoncé of tea, green tea is definitely the most popular, right now. While harvested later than white tea, green tea does not go through the same oxidation process that oolong and black tea go through. Like white tea, this allows for some of the highest levels of catechins, specifically the uber-beneficial compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It’s been shown in a number of exciting studies to be extremely powerful in a number of issues:
- Boosts metabolism
- Improves the skin
- Slows down aging
- Decreases cancer growth
- Improves brain function
- Protects from brain diseases
- Reduces heart disease risk
- Reverses diabetes
- Decreases inflammation through boosting pro-antioxidant Nrf2 pathways and decreases pro-inflammatory Nfkb activity.
Green tea is a fun part of the kingdom. Like all the varieties of beer or wine, green tea comes in different forms that each can have their own individual taste and array of nutrients and won’t give you a hangover. Cheers! Here’s how the different green teas rank:
Matcha is a green powder made from a specific kind of green tea leaf. Unlike many other green teas, plants used for matcha are first covered and grown in the shade for weeks upon weeks before they are harvested, resulting in boosted chlorophyll levels, which gives it the bright green color it is known for. Then the leaves are dried and ground into powder. Matcha has one of the highest concentrations of EGCG of all green teas, up to three times more than a typical sencha!
Sencha is brewed by infusing the whole tea leaves in water to produce a very mild and pleasant taste. Harvested early on in the season, sencha is made from some of the most flavorful top leaves. It’s no wonder that this is the most popular tea in Japan.
Similar to sencha, the biggest difference is that the leaves are also shade grown just like matcha versus in the sun, which results in a stronger, more intense flavor. Gyokuro is also touted as having the highest EGCG levels.
More bitter in taste, bancha has the lowest caffeine content of all green tea varieties. It is harvested from the same tree as sencha but later in the season, making it one of the cheapest, most commonly found green teas out there.
3. Black tea: the classic.
When the tea leaf is harvested to make black tea, enzymes are activated, resulting in oxidation, leading to a withering of the leaves. Depending on the specific temperature and humidity controls, the leaves brown, and the desired taste and aroma is achieved.
Many types of black teas are blends of different varieties of black teas from different regions. It also has the highest caffeine content of all tea types.
Black teas don’t tend to differ too much in health benefits; choosing the right one for you is really a matter of taste. Some of the most common black teas include:
Black tea with bergamot oil.
A blend of Assam, Kenyan, and Ceylon varieties of black tea. To everyone in the United Kingdom, this is the only tea that exists. All else is sacrilegious.
A blend of different varieties of black teas.
Since black teas are oxidized, the catechins originally present are converted to theaflavins. While the high catechin content in green tea is a major health benefit, studies have shown that theaflavins are just as powerful antioxidants, making black tea a perfect choice if you are needing a boost of caffeine but still want the antioxidant power.
4. Oolong tea: the underdog.
If black, green, and white tea are Destiny’s Child, oolong is the overlooked member of the group who got kicked out sometime in the late ’90s. But oolong is awesome!
One of the biggest benefits of oolong tea comes from its weight-management properties. Similar to green tea, studies have shown that regularly drinking oolong tea can help prevent obesity by reducing weight through boosting fat metabolism or lipolysis. It can even suppress the creation of new fat cells!
The bottom line? All tea is super healthy, so choose based on your personal goals and flavor preferences.
Black tea is enjoyed all over the world, both hot and iced. It contains roughly half the caffeine of coffee, meaning you can sip it all day and not get the jitters. While black tea provides many health benefits thanks to its powerful polyphenols, drowning it in sugar, blending it into a latte or smothering it in whipped cream adds fat and calories that inhibit its health benefits. Adding only a splash of fresh lemon juice cuts through all that fussy static, offering you a drink that is clearly as healthy as it is soothing and refreshing.
Benefits of Black Tea
Black tea is made from the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. Mature leaves are harvested, and some are steamed or heated in a hot pan to make green tea. Other leaves are allowed to air dry naturally. The oxidization this causes gives black tea its richer, deeper flavor.
Both types of tea contain polyphenols. The polyphenols in green tea are absorbed through the small intestine to the liver, where they help the organ do its job of processing and removing toxins from your bloodstream. The polyphenols in black tea are too large to be absorbed through the small intestine, so previous thought was that they offered no real benefits. Newer research suggests that the larger polyphenols affect the balance of your gut bacteria, encouraging short-chain fatty acids that support your liver’s function. In addition, the flavenoids in black tea help ease inflammation and support the flexibility of your blood vessels, which can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and certain types of cancer.
Benefits of Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is a powerful antioxidant. Your cells are vulnerable to oxidization the same way that iron is vulnerable to it, resulting in rust. The effects of smoking, metabolism and environmental toxins can damage your cells. This can lead to certain diseases as well as accelerate the visible effects of aging such as loss of elasticity in your skin. Antioxidants scrub away this cellular “rust,” known as free radicals, to lower your risk of some diseases and help keep your skin supple. The vitamin C in lemon juice also supports your immune system.
Reasons to Add Lemon to Black Tea
Drinking your tea with milk, cream or nondairy creamer can inhibit the health effects it offers as well as add calories and fat. You also face the risk associated with artificial sweeteners if you are using zero-calorie creamer. Adding lemon juice to black tea helps keep your calorie and fat counts down. Black tea can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb iron, and lemon juice also counteracts this because it supports the body’s ability to absorb iron. Lemon juice and black tea both contain diuretics, which can help keep you from retaining water.
How to Make Tea
To make hot tea, heat the water no hotter than about 209 F, which is a gentle simmer. Add 2 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea or one teabag per cup, and let it steep for no longer than 2 minutes so the bitter tannins do not develop too strongly. Strain loose-leaf tea, or remove the teabags without squeezing them. Add a splash of lemon juice. If you prefer sweeter tea, stir in a little honey or agave syrup for a naturally sweet and soothing cuppa.
To make iced tea, cover one teabag for an individual glass, or six teabags for a gallon pitcher, with water that is about 190 F, which is below a simmer. Let the tea steep for 2 minutes, and remove the teabags. For sun tea, wet your teabags in boiling water to kill any possible bacteria and then fill the pitcher with cool water and set it in direct sunlight for 8 to 12 hours. No matter which method you use, add a splash of lemon juice the minute you have removed the teabags to get the fullest flavor. Sweeten your tea with simple syrup or agave syrup, or flavor it with mint or fresh fruit.