The health research is enough to make you forego the latte for strong brewed tea instead. Name your color — black, white, green, even red — teas are packed with disease-preventing antioxidants (more than some fruits and vegetables) and contain vitamins, minerals, and at least half the caffeine of coffee.
Fortified with free radical-fighting polyphenols, tea drinkers have a reduced risk of many different cancers, in particular stomach, colorectal, and even skin cancer. Tea drinkers also have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol. Containing anti- inflammatory and arthritis-preventing properties, tea also helps stimulate the immune system and protect the liver against toxins.
But you have to drink up. Most research points to five or so cups of brewed tea each day to reap the health benefits. Decaf tea loses some but not much of its health punch, due to extra processing.
All traditional tea — white, green, oolong, and black — is derived from the leaves of an evergreen tree called the Camellia sinensis, and all contain the health-promoting polyphenols. White tea is made from young tea leaves, dried in the sun without fermentation or processing. Green tea is dried with hot air after picking, so it retains its color but is not fermented. Oolong tea, sometimes referred to as “brown” tea, is fermented but not processed to the point of black tea. Black tea, on the other hand, is fully fermented, which accounts for the color of the leaves and its stronger flavor.
Rooibos, or red tea, is naturally caffeine-free and from the Aspalathus linearis, a shrub that grows only at high altitude near Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Herbal teas are made from a variety of plants, roots, bark, seeds, and flowers and are technically herbal infusions rather than tea. Though they don’t contain the same antioxidants and haven’t received the same research-based accolades as traditional tea, the herbs in these infusions have certain healing properties that have been used for centuries to treat many common health issues.