According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., Inc., tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water.
Like most of you, I enjoy tea but am nowhere near an expert when it comes to knowing which types to try or even the many health benefits the beverage can provide. Luckily, Alexis Siemons, tea and brand specialist for Takeya USA was available to answer the questions below.
RW: We know that tea contains flavonoids, or naturally occurring compounds that are thought to have antioxidant properties. Does the type of tea affect the flavonoid content? As in, is black tea a better choice than red? Or green better than black?
AS: While there isn’t conclusive information on which tea is best from a health perspective, we do know that when it comes to health benefits of tea, fresh is best. Studies have reported that fresh brewed tea offers more health benefits than bottled tea. Research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society noted that bottled teas “contain fewer polyphenols than a single cup of home-brewed green or black tea. Some contain such small amounts that consumers would have to drink 20 bottles to get the polyphenols present in one cup of tea.”
RW: Is herbal tea as healthy for you as other teas, such as black or red or green?
AS: In terms of healthy steeps, all teas provide hydration. The most important factors to consider when selecting both teas and herbal blends are that they are premium whole leaf teas (offers the most flavour and often freshness), and that they’re all-natural (no artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours, or preservatives). The more pure the tea the better it is for the body, mind, and soul (not to mention taste).
RW: If runners are going to try just one variety of tea, is there a type you’d recommend? Why?
AS: Tea is so very personal. I would recommend that the runner collect an assortment of teas (black, oolong, green, white and herbal blends) and see what they enjoy the most. Then he or she can create a tea routine. Maybe it’s a delicate green tea in the morning, a strong black tea after a run, or an herbal blend without any caffeine to enjoy after an evening run to wind down. Most important, the runner should pay attention to the proper way to steep the tea. There are two foundations for brewing the perfect cup of tea: water temperature and steep time. Each tea or tea category has recommended water temperature and brew times. I’ve discovered that many people steep their green tea in boiling water for over five minutes, but in general green tea should be steeped in water (that has cooled for three to five minutes after boiling) for only three minutes. This is just a general guideline – temperature and time vary greatly in the green tea category.
RW: Is tea a good choice for rehydrating after a hot or sweaty workout? Does it rehydrate as well as plain water (or is the caffeine a factor)?
AS: From a health perspective, active individuals should note that the best way to enjoy tea for both pleasure and health is to choose fresh-brewed, premium, all-natural tea. Also, for added fresh flavour try infusing iced tea with fresh fruit, herbs, and spices. Recipes for refreshing iced tea abound, and making refreshing new blends can be as simple as naturally sweetened iced tea with freshly squeezed orange juice for fresh flavour and Vitamin C bonus. Try infusing iced assam black tea with watermelon and basil for a delicious twist. Keep in mind that you don’t want to turn tea into a medicine but rather a healthy, pleasurable experience. My note: As long as you take in adequate amounts of water and electrolytes throughout the day and limit caffeine intake to a moderate amount, the diuretic effect of caffeinated beverages shouldn’t impede your total hydration status. If you’re concerned about caffeine, choose decaf.