For thousands of years, people have considered tea to be the elixir of life. Many people worldwide have claimed that drinking tea provides nutritional and health benefits for the body, mind, and soul.
From using tea as an aphrodisiac, a way to preserve food, and a staple beverage consumed in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, tea has made its mark as the beverage of choice for billions of people daily. In this article, we're going to explore the many health benefits of tea and, specifically, the various ways that loose-leaf tea helps take those benefits to the next level.
Health Benefits of Loose-Leaf Teas
Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world after water. Enjoyed in tea houses, coffee shops, restaurants, and at home, tea drinkers from every country enjoy the many flavors tea offers. But do loose-leaf teas contain any health benefits?
EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is considered the most abundant catechin in tea. A polyphenol, or plant compound, EGCG, has been attributed to boosting a person's metabolism and helping them lose weight. But EGCG may also help improve the function of the immune system and reduce the risk of certain cancers and brain diseases. Let's look at some of the potential health benefits loose-leaf tea contains.
#1. Antioxidant Properties
Although different teas contain different compounds, they all provide antioxidant activity. Whether you're drinking black tea, green tea, or white tea, they all have health benefits. Studies show that even though the antioxidants come from different compounds, they are all responsible for several human health benefits, from successfully reducing oxidative stress to fighting free radicals.
Inflammation occurs when the body tries to fight off an illness, virus, or bacteria or even if there is an external injury. Tea, like green tea, may have anti-inflammatory properties that come from EGCG, a compound that may help reduce inflammation in the body.
#3. Cancer Prevention
Research indicates that tea may help reduce the risk of developing cancer and the ability to fight it. Green tea has been considered one of the best teas in helping prevent and fight cancer. These studies suggest that tea can also help increase the effect of some drugs used in cancer treatment.
Tea may also boost the immune system, which also helps in reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancer and assist in reducing the side effects of some cancer treatment like radiation treatment.
#4. Weight Loss
Drinking that cup of tea may help you achieve your weight loss goals. Research shows that all teas may help a person shed unwanted pounds, but some teas like Pu'er or oolong may be the best at reducing the waistline. Tea is excellent at dropping bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels and gives your body extra energy for exercise.
#5. Energy Boost
Speaking of energy boosts, tea contains caffeine, giving a person extra energy and more alertness and focus. Most people will think that black tea provides more caffeine than other teas, but in some cases, green tea may offer just as much caffeine to the system. Regardless of what tea you drink, you'll get a gentle caffeinated jolt to the system with each sip.
Kinds Of Loose Leaf Tea and Their Benefits
All true teas, like black, green, oolong, and white tea, come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis plant. The difference in the tea is due to the amount of processing that occurs for the tea leaves. For example, black tea goes through the most processing, altering its look and taste. Green and white tea are greener and go through less processing.
Something worth noting, herbal teas are not the same as black, oolong, white, and green tea. In fact, herbal tea is not real tea at all! These teas are mostly made up of leaves, spices, roots, flowers, and herbs like chamomile, mint, and ginger. Although some blends use tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant, herbal teas have their own attributes and don't contain any benefits from the tea plant.
Let's look at the most popular kinds of loose-leaf tea and examine the benefits each tea version provides.
There are several oolong tea health benefits, but the most common is its ability to burn fat. With a light, fruity and floral flavor, oolong tea is one of the most refreshing and robust black teas available. As a fermented tea, Oolong tea is high in the amino acid L-theanine, which helps improve brain function, reduces stress and anxiety, and is a great sleep aid.
One of the most common types of tea you can buy, black tea possesses many health benefits. Black tea helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by boosting heart health and creating lower blood pressure. Black tea is also known for improving dental health, tooth decay, and gut health, lowering blood sugar levels, and may even help reduce the risk of certain cancers like skin cancer.
With an intense flavor, green tea has just as many benefits as black tea, such as aiding weight loss, improving brain health, and reducing the risk of certain cancers. It may also help prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attacks. Green tea may also help relieve menstrual cramps.
Matcha tea is one of those traditional teas we just can't leave off our list. Its robust, hearty, and earthy flavor has been used in traditional tea ceremonies for centuries. A finely powdered version of green tea, matcha contains many of the same health properties as green tea leaves. Some of the benefits include fat metabolism, weight loss, prevention of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and even the prevention of certain cancers.
Pu'er tea is different than most other tea varieties because it is fermented. This tea has a subtle mushroom-like flavor. Like most tea types, Pu'er tea helps digestion and cleanses toxins and free radicals from the body. This tea helps lower bad cholesterol while boosting good cholesterol. With its delicate flavor, Pu'er is also an excellent tea for stress relief.
What's Better: Loose Leaf Tea or Tea Bags?
There is a big difference between loose-leaf tea and tea bag varieties. The first noticeable difference is that loose teas are typically bought in bulk. In contrast, bagged teas are already pre-packaged in boxes containing a certain number of individual pre-filled bags.
Another one of the differences between loose-leaf and bagged tea is that loose tea is usually larger pieces of whole-leaf tea leaves. With tea bags, the tea leaves are broken into smaller pieces or turned into powder or dust.
There are also fewer antioxidants in tea bags because most of the nutritional value and health benefits of tea in tea bag form are lost during heavy processing. It makes loose-leaf tea a better option for higher antioxidant levels and overall nutritional benefits.
Another thing to note is when you brew loose-leaf tea, the tea flavor is more intense, and the color is deeper. Making tea with tea bags can leave you with a bitter brew that is dull in color and lacking in flavor.
Because bagged tea is packed in bleached bags, you may also have some bleach residue in your cup of tea. This won't happen when you brew loose tea since all you're brewing is the loose tea.
When you're standing in the grocery store about to buy loose-leaf tea or a tea bag variety, consider the loose-leaf tea benefits, but also the flavor. Whether it's white tea, herbal tea, or black tea, loose-leaf tea gives you more from the plant.
How To Brew Tea With Loose Leaf Tea
Making a cup of loose-leaf tea is super simple. You only need a few pieces of equipment, hot water, and of course, your favorite loose teas to brew. Since the leaves are not contained in a bag, you'll have to use a tea ball or a strainer to hold the tea in your cup while you add the heated water.
Using a water temperature that won't scorch the leaves is also essential. It must be hot but not boiling. Always follow the individual instructions on the packaging, but here is a rough recipe you can follow.
Measure out approximately 1-2 teaspoons of loose tea leaves for one cup of tea, and place them in your strainer or tea ball.
Pour the hot water over the top of the leaves and let it steep inside your mug or cup for 3-5 minutes.
Once fully brewed to your preference. Remove the tea ball or strainer from the cup or mug, and enjoy! Some tea varieties require more extended brewing periods to release all of the flavor and health benefits.
Tea has many benefits for a healthy mind, body, and soul. Perhaps you're a black tea drinker or prefer trying something different, like oolong, green or white teas? Using a loose-leaf variety is your best bet for getting all the benefits of tea and the best flavor out of your cup of tea. If you want some really great loose-leaf tea varieties, here are some worth checking out!