Tea has long been drunk for its health benefits but it wasn’t until relatively recently that the true health benefits of tea became apparent. Tea contains many antioxidants that help to fight the body against disease. In fact, tea is thought to contain up to 10 times more antioxidants than fruit and veg.
So what are antioxidants and why do I need them?
As your body’s cells use oxygen there are certain by-products produced these are called free radicals and can cause damage to your body and lead to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants in certain foods help to slow down this process and repair the damage caused. Some antioxidants include vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and E, other antioxidants such as phytochemicals (chemicals naturally occurring in plants) lycopene and lutein. Fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants but so is tea.
All tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant and it is the plant that is rich in antioxidants. Regardless of which tea you drink you will be getting the benefit of antioxidants but some teas may contain more than others.
It was believed for a long time that green tea was the tea with the most antioxidants but that may not be the case. White tea is thought to hold more of the catechin, epigallocatechin (EGCG) green tea does and that may be down to the process in producing the tea.
As all tea comes from the same plant, different processes may cause the tea leaves to lose some of their antioxidant properties. White tea is the least processed tea, next is green tea that is slightly oxidised and then its black tea that has been oxidised for longer giving it its deeper colour. That’s not to say that drinking black tea is bad for you, it is still full of antioxidants, just maybe not as many as green or white tea.
Other teas also contain antioxidants, herbal teas such as hibiscus tea and rooibos tea don’t come from the same plant as white, green and black tea so the antioxidants they hold are different but no less beneficial.