April 24, 2024

It’s easy to forget that a humble cup of tea can be packed with nutrients that yield important health benefits. Most varieties of tea you’ll find on supermarket shelves or online are healthy choices, and with so many dozens of teas to choose from in the world, boredom will never be an issue with this beverage.

Simply put, whether you enjoy it iced or hot, tea is a super-healthy drink to have every day. But which varieties of tea are the absolute healthiest to drink daily? Here are the types of tea with the most noteworthy nutrients, healthy properties, and functional benefits.

Two Main Categories of Tea

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of tea: herbal teas and “true” or camellia teas, and each variety boasts a unique profile of health perks. “Both major types of tea provide beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals that enhance health in a vast variety of ways, perfect for everyday drinking,” says Rachelle Robinett, registered herbalist (AHG) and founder of Pharmakon Supernatural and HRBLS.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are any teas made from plants like fruits, grains, flowers, spices, roots, and herbs. This includes options like ginger tea, cinnamon tea, turmeric tea, fennel tea, licorice root tea, rose hip tea, and chamomile tea.

Camellia Teas

Camellia teas are those derived specifically from the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves from this shrub are harvested and processed in specific ways to produce black, green, white, and oolong teas, as well as red, pu-erh, and yellow teas.

Healthiest Teas to Drink Every Day

The following list explains the healthiest tea choices you can make, and what makes each one so great for you.

Black Tea

One of the most common varieties of tea is black tea, and it’s likely already sitting in your pantry. Of all the camellia teas, black tea has been oxidized the longest and its leaves are often broken into smaller pieces than its relatives. This gives black teas a deeper, more intense flavor, as well as a higher caffeine content of 47 milligrams (mg) per 8 ounces (about half the amount of a cup of coffee).

Aside from offering a caffeinated energy boost, black tea is full of health benefits thanks to the multitude of phytonutrients it contains, especially theaflavin. Black tea’s polyphenolic compounds help support heart health by positively impacting blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They also encourage better immune, gut, brain, and metabolic health.

Ginger Turmeric Tea

An increasingly popular herbal tea combination is ginger and turmeric—and for good reason! “The curcumin in turmeric offers anti-inflammatory benefits, while the gingerols found in ginger offer pain relief and enhanced digestion,” Robinett explains. This caffeine-free tea blend is a comforting way to start, end, or bridge your day and is simply delectable with a touch of honey.

Green Tea

Another camellia tea, green tea undergoes minimal oxidation and its leaves are typically less broken up compared to black tea leaves. Green tea contains less caffeine than black tea, too, with roughly 30 mg per cup. (Matcha tea is a potent green tea variety that’s higher in caffeine than other green teas, but still lower in caffeine than coffee). The subtle, earthy, floral flavor of green tea pairs well with whatever you may be nibbling on, sweet or savory. Beyond its appealing taste, green tea has so much to offer in the way of health benefits. It contains bioactive compounds, including quercetin, kaempferol, catechins, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These antioxidants help boost immune, heart, gut, and metabolic health, to name just a few.

Lemon Tea

Whether you reach for lemon verbena tea or simply hot water infused with lemon juice or zest, any sort of lemon-based tea is great for daily sipping. Lemon contains vitamin C that helps fight inflammation and boost immunity. “Citrus also contains the terpene limonene, which has notably antidepressant activity,” Robinett says. This means that any other citrus-added tea, like orange pekoe, will also offer these benefits.

White Tea

White tea is the least oxidized type of camellia teas, offering a more delicate flavor characterized by mild green, grassy notes. It tends to have around 15 percent less caffeine than green tea, though the number can range anywhere between five and 50 mg per cup depending on a variety of factors including type, brand, leaf size, temperature it’s steeped at, and time of steeping. White tea has many of the same compounds as black and green tea, offering similar benefits. It also contains l-theanine (as do the other camellia teas), an amino acid that supports cognitive function as well as immune and heart health. White tea has been found to potentially aid in wound healing and skin health, too.

Hibiscus Tea

The deep pink hue and tart sweetness of hibiscus tea has made it quite a popular herbal tea— plus, it’s caffeine-free. “Hibiscus is a nutrient-rich tea with impressive benefits for metabolism, in large part via its blood-sugar stabilizing effects,” Robinett explains. “It’s also high in rutin and quercetin, which are effective for treating allergies and normalizing mast cell function.” Research has shown that hibiscus tea can support heart health by regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Earl Grey Tea

A quintessential British tea, Earl Grey is black tea flavored with the oil of bergamot. Bergamot is a citrus fruit similar to the Meyer lemon that offers carminative benefits, which, Robinett explains, “stimulates natural digestive enzyme production and relaxes muscles in the digestive tract to ease cramps, gas, or bloating.” This distinctive and comforting black blend tea has a similar caffeine content to plain black tea and boasts the same great benefits as both citrus and other black teas.

Mint Tea

There are several kinds of mint teas available, including peppermint and spearmint, but they tend to offer similar benefits. “Mint teas act as nootropics, which help improve cognitive functions like memory, focus, and concentration,” Robinett says. As carminatives, these caffeine-free teas can also help alleviate bloating and other digestive concerns, as well as aid in cough and sinus infection relief.

Oolong Tea

Another camellia tea, oolong tea falls somewhere between green and black teas in terms of its oxidation, caffeine content, and robustness of flavor. However, it combines the health benefits of both varieties, bringing with each sip with lots of phytonutrients and other compounds to support heart, brain, metabolic, gut, and immune health. Its leaf size is often larger than black tea and it can impart either a fresh, light taste or be more full-bodied, depending on variety.

Chamomile Tea

You probably know chamomile for its reputation for encouraging sleep and relaxation at night. All true—and chamomile can be enjoyed anytime of the day, too! (In other words, it doesn’t contain any agents that cause drowsiness or put you to sleep). As a carminative and nervine, it supports digestion and calmness. Chamomile has been found to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and offer anti-inflammatory, metabolic, and immune health benefits, too.

Tips for Buying Tea

When it comes to purchasing, “buy the best quality tea that’s accessible to you—the value of high-quality ingredients is worth it,” Robinett recommends. “There’s an art and science to herbalism, and products made by those in-the-know are going to take you farthest.” 

She suggests considering organic, local, and herbalist-made teas, if and when possible. She also recommends brands like Traditional Medicinals, Pukka Herbs, Gaia Herbs, Arbor Teas, Rishi Tea, and Mountain Rose Herbs.

When buying larger tea brands that source globally, look for Fair Trade certification to ensure ethical labor practices.

How Much Tea Should You Drink Daily?

All the teas highlighted here can be enjoyed in amounts of up to three cups per day, though do be mindful of caffeine content if you’re sensitive to this stimulant. I like to steep the same leaves multiple times, which decreases the caffeine content of each subsequent cup.

Robinett also recommends attaching the practice of brewing tea to something you do every day, like making breakfast or another non-negotiable to-do, if you’re hoping to make tea-drinking a daily habit.

Bottom Line:

Whether you opt for a camellia or herbal tea, each variety will be sure to boost your overall health and wellness through the plethora of healthy compounds and nutrients they contain. This makes tea the perfect addition to your everyday routine.

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