Most teas, whether they are black, red, white or green are derived from the leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves of this warm-weather evergreen have chemicals called polyphenols in them, which give the tree its anti-oxidant properties. Herbal Teas are generally made to be a caffeine-free tea alternative. They are not derived from the Camellia sinensis leaf, and therefore will not necessarily contain anti-oxidant properties.There are different ways of processing the leaves of tea, and this is what determines whether or not the leaves will become black
, or white
tea. Green and white teas are the least processed. The leaves are unfermented, and are steamed instead of air-dried. Black and red teas are partially dried, crushed and fermented. The length of fermentation determines whether the tea will be red or black. Regardless of how the tea is processed, all these teas contain polyphenols. These teas also contain a subclass of polyphenols called flavanoids, which have shown in studies to have the ability to protect cells from damage in cancer and heart disease. As if this wasn?t good enough, the levels of fluoride contained in tea aid in healthy teeth as well!Just a few of the benefits of tea:Helps fight cancer-causing cellsHelps reduce the risk of heart disease Lowers cholesterol and blood pressureHelps fight infections with phytochemicalsHelps improve nervous systemHelps impaired immune functionsHelps control blood sugarHelps in oral healthHelps people with rheumatoid arthritisMay help control metabolic functionsWith so many great benefits to drinking tea, don?t you think you should be drinking more? In order to maximize the benefits, it is considered good to drink 6-8 cups a day. The best teas are those brewed from loose leaves or tea bags, as they have the most antioxidant power. Homemade iced teas can provide as much antioxidant power as hot teas, however bottled teas often have a lower antioxidant level because of the amounts of water and sugar that dilute the tea.You can also supplement your day with added tea by trying out some of these recipes using tea!