Health, Caffeine, And Benefits: Is Tea Good For You?

Whatever your health or emotional condition, there are plentiful tea types to choose from that provide a variety of benefits.

Marco Polo has been credited with discovering the use of tea leaves as a beverage in Asia during the 13th century. Then it became just a matter of time until tea traveled by trade caravan to the portals of the West to become a European favorite and a British classic drink.

Today there are numerous types, styles, and brands of tea to choose from. From loose tea leaves brewed in a pot to bottled tea flavored with lemon, there's a brew for every taste all over the world. Some cultures drink tea "as is," while others add milk and sugar. Sipping from a cup or lapping from a saucer are two common ways to enjoy tea around the world. You can buy it "loose" and strain it after brewing or buy ready-made tea bags for individual servings. You can make it at home, order it in a restaurant, or purchase it at most stores. Most of us can't, however, grow it ourselves.

Of course, with increasing awareness in the health industry over the importance of food in the diet, tea, like many other foods, has come under scrutiny. Some experts argue that the caffeine in tea can pose a problem. Others argue that it stains the teeth or upsets the stomach. A few decades ago, medical study suggested that some types of herbal tea might be carcinogenic, along with the artificial sweeteners found in many processed brands. But to offset these concerns, other researchers promote a host of benefits that one may experience from drinking tea:

1. Tea can provide soothing relief from physical or mental stress. Many types of tea leaves contain compounds that calm the nervous system. Chamomile is perhaps the most popular of this category, and enthusiasts insist that drinking it before bedtime helps to make one feel relaxed and refreshed.

2. Green tea, favored in Asian countries, has been the subject of numerous medical studies in recent years. Supposedly it helps to prevent cancer, aids in weight loss, and offers heart protection, among other things. While not especially flavorful in its original form, global corporations like Lipton Tea now includes flavored green tea products.

3. Black tea, sometimes processed with orange pekoe and pekoe, is a Western staple. Studies on this type also show promising results. Black tea has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of stroke for those who consume four cups a day. It helps to relax muscle spasms, reduce blood clotting, and most recently is believed to function like an antioxidant, helping to clean the body of free radicals that contribute to aging or the formation of diseases like cancer.

4. Herbal teas, like those made from sassafras, rose hips, and licorice, among others, are used for a range of physical ailments. Herbalists have documented the type, amount, and preparation of various tea tinctures to treat certain disorders. Check with your doctor before trying something new or off the common path, however.

Tea is shaping up to be one of the newest wonder foods on the market today. So brew a bag and kick back for a refreshing health break!

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