College O'Natural

My life as an earth-wise health-conscious college student. DIY, budgets, and the occasional rant!


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Tea! What you should know!

Hey!

As we all know, allergy season is well on its way. If you’re on the East Coast like me it has come and gone more than once; making life difficult for the allergy prone, like me!

Being someone who has had allergies all my life, I’ve become intimately acquainted with the plethora of allergy medicines that are offered. They’re great sometimes, but I hate relying on any medicine; so I stopped.

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Now, I control all my allergies and sicknesses with food.

Tea is always my first step when I feel like I am getting sick, because it’s AMAZING!

But why does it work so well? I’ll tell you 🙂

According to WebMD, some teas:

  • can help with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease
  • encourage weight loss
  • lower cholesterol
  • bring about mental awareness
  • are antimicrobial

Purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. However, no matter the type (with the exception of herbal tea) they all come from the same plant; the tea plant or camellia sinensis.

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The tea plant is full of flavonoids and tannins, which have significant anti-inflammatory properties as well as high antioxidant power.  The most powerful of these antioxidants is ECGC which can help against free radicals. These free radicals contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. The more processed tea leaves are, means the have less of the flavonoids and tannins. An example would be Black and Oolong teas which are oxidized and fermented. This doesn’t mean they are bad for you, in fact they still have high anti oxidizing powers. Also, if you have any sensitivities to tannins, these may be the tea types you want to try.

Here is WebMD’s info on Tea

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
  • Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
  • Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.

WebMD info on Herbal teas-

  • Chamomile tea: Its antioxidants may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, and stunt the growth of cancer cells.
  • Echinacea: Often touted as a way to fight the common cold, the research on echinacea has been inconclusive.
  • Hibiscus: A small study found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered blood pressure in people with modestly elevated levels.
  • Rooibos (red tea): A South African herb that is fermented. Although it has flavonoids with cancer-fighting properties, medical studies have been limited

It is important to note that there is a lack of concrete research on many herbal remedies. However, this is not because they don’t work. Most of the time, pharmaceutical companies are the ones who fund research, and they won’t want to fund something they can’t sell.

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Now, not everyone has a tea plant in the backyard so we have to buy our teas. This seems simple enough right?

Wrong.

This is where the consumer faces problems. Unfortunately due to the large demand of tea, more tea crops are needed. And how do they keep the tea plants from being eaten? Pesticides. These pesticides find their way into our tea, sometimes at levels that far exceed the regulations. Food Babe did an article not too long ago that investigated what exactly was in our tea and which brands to buy. These were her results:

Numi, Rishi, and Traditional Medicinals are the best brands to buy.

 To see the full chart and the worst offenders click here.

So what are the different types of tea packaging?

Loose leaf tea

Loose leaf tea is just like it sounds, loose. No bag or anything. There are multiple steeping methods.

Click on the photo below to go to a review of the best steeping methods for loose leaf tea.

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Silk Bags

TOXIC!

In Food Babe’s article, she also refers to an article in The Atlantic that covers the toxicity of silk bags and how when steeped, the plastic in the bags in being broken down by the high temperature. So while these bags may seem cool or pretty, they’re also poisonous.

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Paper Bag

This is the most commonly used and well known form of steeping tea. I have yet to find any problems with this form of tea and it is the form I use. However, always read the labels and do your homework! Never assume anything.

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So now you know!

Brew and Enjoy!

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