Tea is not a word but an emotion for Indians. Be it masala chai, black tea, green tea or even kashmiri kahwa. A hot cup of tea suit’s every season and emotion. Happy? It will add up to your mood. Anxious? It will calm you down. Sleepy? It will keep you awake. Insomnia? It will help you relax and sleep.
So now you might be wondering, how does one tea provide so many services where most of them contradict one another?
To answer that, the quality and benefits of the tea depends on its Level of Oxidation. The four major types of tea i.e. WHITE TEA, GREEN TEA, OOLONG TEA and BLACK TEA, comes from the same plant called Camellia sinensis. However, they are differentiated by the level of oxidation they undergo. This adds to its level of flavour, aroma and health properties.
The two major compounds in tea are Catechins and Xantheines. Catechins is present in the form of ECGC which are naturally occurring antioxidants that reduces the oxidative cellular damage in the body and Xantheines in the form of caffeine that provides a gentle energy boost without the harmful side-effects of coffee. The presence of these compounds depends on the oxidisation of the tea leaves. Higher oxidisation leads to more of Xantheine and less of Catechins, where’s lower oxidized leaves contain higher Catechines and less Xantheine.
White Tea is most delicate of all the tea’s as it’s uncured and unfermented. Famous for it’s floral, fruity and naturally sweet flavour, it contains the highest amount of antioxidants as is least oxidized (So it has most of it’s natural Catechins). Hence, it possesses major health benefits because of the absence of caffeine. It’s known for its anti-aging and most potent anti-cancer properties.
Green Tea is the most famous health tea for the past few decades. It is darker compared to White tea as it is slightly more oxidized, however it contains high number of antioxidants that is beneficial for promoting good metabolism and weight-loss. Some of the numerous health benefits of green tea include growth of bladder, stomach, pancreas, lungs; reduced risks of neurological disease like Alzheimer’s; lower blood pressure; prevent cancer; lowers cholesterol levels; prevents tooth decay and many more.
Oolong Tea comes after green tea in terms of its antioxidant content as it’s more oxidized compared to the latter. Its properties depend upon the level of oxidation which is mostly between 30% -70%. It is aromatic and highly fragrant. It is known to lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase the production of good cholesterol (HDL). It has higher amount of caffeine hence it is known to increase mental alertness and increases concentration
Black Tea is rich, hearty and bold. It’s over 80 % oxidized and hence contain highest levels of caffeine compared to all the others. Hence, this makes it best for an instant energy boost. It is known to protect the skin against excess UV radiation exposure, boost immunity, protect lungs, improve heart health and lower the risk of kidney stones.
Hence, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a hot cup of tea on a pleasant evening (Specially, if it’s good for your health as well as taste buds).