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There is good news for all tea drinkers. According to recent research, tea has enough health benefits for it to be included in the list of foods that constitute a healthy lifestyle.

All teas are made from the leaves or buds of the plant camellia sinensis and differ in their processing – some are fermented, others are not. 

Here is a look at five different kinds of teas and their health benefits: 

  • Black tea is the most common and is made from the first two leaves and bud of the plant, which are rolled, fermented at room temperature and dried at high temperatures. A cup of black tea contains 40 mg of caffeine; it is believed to prevent strokes and lower cholesterol because it contains theaflavin, thearubigins and phenolics.
  • Green tea is not roasted and therefore retains its green colour. It is best known for its antioxidant properties which help neutralise the body’s toxins. Green tea is believed to speed up the metabolism; it contains the amino acid theanine which helps the body relax.
  • Oolong tea looks like black tea but has a shorter fermentation time, which reduces its caffeine content. Oolong tea helps digest food faster, so calories are burnt rapidly; it also converts triglycerides into calories, thereby helping prevent heart disease.
  • Pu-erh tea is highly fermented, and although comparatively lower in caffeine content, it is the richest in flavonoids, which help lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health. It aids in digestion and burns calories and fat rapidly.
  • White tea is made from the youngest buds and leaves. A cup has 15 mg of caffeine; it has antioxidant properties which are believed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, lower LDL cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disorders. White tea is rich in calcium, magnesium and fluoride which promote healthy bones, teeth and gums.

– Professor Dr Rashida Ali

The writer is Adjunct Professor & Consultant, Department of Food Science and Technology and ICCBS, University of Karachi. 

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on January 12, 2014.