Why should you be drinking loose leaf tea?
Here to discover the health benefits of loose leaf tea?
Excellent, keep reading!
Tea is without doubt one of the most enjoyable and popular beverages in the world.
In fact, it is the 2nd widely consumed drink in the world after water.
There are over 150 different types of teas, with new variations being marketed all the time.
The most commonly consumed teas are green tea, black tea, white tea, and pu-erh tea.
All of these are obtained from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant.
If you want to read more about the different types of herbal tea, then check out this article.
There’s nothing better than drinking a cup of tea when you are not feeling well or when you want to unwind after a hard day.
Regular consumption of tea offers a wide array of health benefits including but not exclusively:
Boosting your immune system, cancer prevention, relieving inflammation, promoting heart, brain and digestive health, increasing weight loss, and regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
In this article, we’re going to go in-depth on the health benefits of loose leaf tea.
But first, let’s check out what the term loose leaf actually means.
What Is Loose Leaf Tea?
Loose leaf tea is obtained by steeping the leaves of a tea plant or different herbs and spices in hot water.
Tea leaves are available either in loose form as whole leaves or prepackaged as teabags.
Nowadays, tea bags are much more popular than loose leaves because it makes tea quicker and easier to make.
Compared with tea bags, there are enormous health benefits of loose leaf tea.
They have higher antioxidant levels and greater polyphenolic compounds.
Herbal teas or tisanes, unlike standard teas, are not obtained from the tea plant Camellia sinensis.
Instead, they are prepared by steeping different parts of plants like roots, stems, leaves, fruits and flowers in hot water.
Most herbal teas are caffeine free, loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants, and are a great source of plant compounds that give your body a natural boost.
Herbal teas are a great way to enjoy all the natural benefits of plants in a single cup of tea.
Historical Background of Loose Leaf Tea
The story goes that loose leaf tea came into existence when the famous Chinese Emperor named Shennong was drinking a cup of hot water.
He used to consume hot water before meals and one evening some leaves from a nearby tree accidently blew into his cup.
It changed the color and flavor of the water.
The Emperor did not tip it away and instead decided to taste it.
He was surprised by the taste of the ‘tea’ and began to consume it regularly.
Before long it was introduced in different parts of the world and thousands of years later it is still hugely popular.
Ancient tea drinkers would not have known the science behind the health benefits of tea but luckily in the modern world we do.
Keep reading to discover the top 10 health benefits of loose leaf tea.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Loose Leaf Tea
Loose leaf tea is loaded with phytochemicals which possess powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Recent research has revealed various health benefits of loose leaf tea which we’ll discover below.
1. Packed with Antioxidants
Because of the potent antioxidant properties in loose leaf tea, it is undoubtedly a healthy drink.
Our body is continually fighting against free radicals which are harmful substances like heavy metals and environmental pollutants.
These oxygen reactive species damage cell structure, speed up the aging process and cause the development of illnesses and disease.
Thanks to the antioxidant content of tea, the harmful effects of free radicals are reduced or neutralized.
Tea reduces oxidative stress, prevents cellular damage and lowers the risk of chronic diseases.
Polyphenolic compounds like catechin, theaflavin, thearubigin, epigallocatechin gallate found in green and black tea are powerful antioxidants.
Antioxidant levels in herbal teas are less than green and black tea obtained from a specific tea plant and the concentration levels will depend on the type of herb used in tea.
Check out the health benefits of ginger tea to discover another tea that’s great for your body.
2. Improves Heart Health
High blood pressure, raised cholesterol and atherosclerosis are the main reasons for cardiovascular diseases.
Consumption of tea on a daily basis is greatly associated with reduced risk of a heart attack and other cardiac ailments.
Recent studies showed that polyphenols present in loose-leaf black, green, or herbal teas help lower blood pressure.
They also reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), lower triglycerides and prevent vascular damage.
Evidence based on clinical trials showed that regular consumption of green tea extract results in decreasing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Another study revealed that antioxidant compounds in green and black tea help improve blood circulation and restrict the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.
Drinking tea daily reduces the risk of heart diseases and evidence shows that the health benefits of loose leaf tea on the heart are promising.
3. Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Tea, one the most refreshing and rejuvenating beverages, has calming and relaxing effects on mind.
Standard teas like green and black teas are rich in an amino acid known as L-theanine.
This is known to improve focus and relieve stress and anxiety.
The most commonly used herbal teas that calm the brain are peppermint tea, chamomile tea, and passion flower tea.
These are rich in menthol, essential oils, apigenin, flavones, and other plant compounds which reduce cortisol levels.
The result of this is a soothing effect on the nervous system and a reduction in general anxiety.
Antioxidants in teas have beneficial effects on brain health too.
They protect the brain from free radicals and reduce the hallmarks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Regular consumption of tea helps improve focus, alertness and attention.
A cup of tea before bed may reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone), and improve sleep without causing drowsiness.
4. Improves Digestive Health
Besides heart and brain health, the additional benefit of loose leaf tea is on the digestive system.
A cup of tea on a daily basis helps relieve acute gastroenteritis and regulate the movement of the intestine.
The human gut contains millions of bacterial species, some of which are beneficial and others are bad for health.
These beneficial bacteria are responsible for improving gut health by reducing the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases and cancer.
Polyphenolic compounds present in tea have the potential to restrict the growth of bad bacteria and strengthen the muscles of the digestive tract.
Herbal teas like ginger tea, and tea containing spices like black pepper, cinnamon, and mint are the most commonly used teas for improving the digestive system
5. Helps Prevent Cancer
Polyphenolic compounds like catechin are potent antioxidants responsible for most of the health benefits of tea.
These compounds are highly effective in protecting the cells against DNA damage which can lead to the development of cancer.
Laboratory studies revealed that compounds in tea restrict the process of nitrification.
This is associated with increased risk of cancers like stomach and esophagus cancer.
Moreover, green tea is known to repress the activity of urokinase, an enzyme responsible for spreading of cancer cells.
Green tea is considered a powerhouse of antioxidants and these levels are higher than any other tea.
Rooibos tea, Earl-Grey, and green tea are rich in flavonoids and prevent various types of cancer including breast cancer, lung, prostate, and colon cancer.
They work by inhibiting angiogenesis, preventing cellular damage, regulating gene expression, and inducing apoptosis.
6. Boosts Metabolism and Increases Weight Loss
The health benefits of loose leaf tea are not limited to heart, brain and cancer prevention.
Tea also has the potential to speed up your metabolism.
It can do this due to the presence of polyphenolic compounds like catechins and flavonoids.
Studies revealed that the consumption of green, black, or herbal tea is associated with reduced weight gain and increased fat burning.
Tea helps in weight loss by boosting metabolism, increasing satiety, and burning fats.
In a clinical trial, obese individuals were instructed to consume 625 mg of green tea leaves for 3 months.
Results revealed a significant reduction in weight in people who consumed green tea.
Black tea, green, white, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, chamomile tea and ginger tea are considered to be the most effective teas for quick weight loss.
7. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia leads to type 2 diabetes and other health complications like heart disease, obesity and renal failure.
Type 2 diabetes results from either increased blood sugar levels or reduced insulin sensitivity.
Luckily, black and green teas, unsweetened refreshing beverages rich in epigallocatechin gallate are known to reduce the blood sugar levels.
An animal study concluded that loose leaf tea has the ability to increase insulin sensitivity, improve glucose metabolism and reduce blood glucose levels in the body.
Anthocyanins and flavonoids are the compounds responsible for the potent hypoglycemic effects.
Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea are greatly associated with reduced risk of diabetes.
Modern research revealed that herbal teas like turmeric tea, hibiscus tea, cinnamon tea, and lemon balm tea have convincing antidiabetic properties.
8. Improves Oral Hygiene
One of the potential health benefits of loose leaf tea is in promoting oral health.
Bacteria species like Streptococcus mutans, present in the mouth, cause tooth infection, plaque formation resulting in dental caries and tooth decay.
9. Strengthens Bones
As you age, bone mineral density reduces and the chances of bone fracture are increased.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that results from overactive osteoclast cells which causes your bones to weaken.
Loose tea leaves are rich in antioxidants, polyphenolic compounds, vitamins and minerals which improve growth and strengthen your bones.
Studies showed that the consumption of tea is associated with reduced risk of fracture.
Drinking tea helps by increasing bone mineral density, improving osteoblast activities and repressing osteoclast activities.
10. Boosts Your Immune System
Everyone has a go-to cup of hot tea when they have a common cold or flu.
Biologically active ingredients of loose leaf tea possess powerful antioxidants, strong anti-inflammatory and potent antimicrobial properties.
Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant which prevents oxidative damage, reduces the risk of diseases and improves the immune system.
Yerba Mate is a type of tea rich in saponins, vitamins, and minerals.
It has anti-inflammatory properties which strengthen the immune system and promote overall health.
Some of the immunity-boosting teas include green tea, turmeric tea, ginger, licorice, peppermint, chamomile, lemongrass, hibiscus and black tea.
How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea
It is really easy and convenient to prepare tea from loose leaves.
Take a glass of hot water, add 2-3 grams of loose tea leaves and allow it to steep for some time.
Steeping time depends on your taste and flavor and the part of plant used.
Health benefits of loose leaf tea -The bottom line
Loose tea leaves are highly refreshing and rejuvenating beverages full of flavors which have been used for thousands of years.
Teas prepared from whole leaves are packed with antioxidants and have medicinal properties which are great for your health.
Standard tea obtained from Camellia sinensis, is widely consumed worldwide and contains far less caffeine than coffee.
Herbal teas on the other hand, are obtained from different herbs and spices and are decaffeinated teas.
The flavor, taste and potential health benefits of herbal teas depends on the type of herb consumed.
For more informative reading about herbal tea, then check out the articles below.
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