Green, Black, Herbal, and More: The Many Health Benefits of Tea

Tea—whether you prefer it hot, iced, or at room temperature, it's something most people drink all the time. But have you ever wondered about the health benefits of tea?

From reducing swelling to supporting your liver's detoxifying powers to even fighting cancer cells (!), tea packs a powerful health punch.

But how do you factor in the different types of tea? And is one more beneficial than the other?

Believe it or not, you can expect to get different health benefits from drinking different types of tea on a regular basis.

So, let’s dive right in and explore the many health benefits of tea and what specific benefits you’ll get based on the type you drink.


The Health Benefits of Tea: What You Can Expect From Your 5 Favorite Types

The benefits of drinking tea are vast. I always knew that, but some of this research surprised even me. Let’s take a look at the health benefits of tea according to the five most common types of tea.

1. White tea

Naturally low in caffeine, white tea is a floral-flavored tea that’s usually consumed without sweetener. It gets its name from the fine white hairs that grow on its leaves.

White tea tends to be more expensive than other teas due to the fact that it’s only harvested for a short time each year. It’s also less oxidized and processed than most other teas, making it one of the freshest-tasting teas you can drink.

When it comes to health benefits, white tea offers a pretty powerful punch. Studies have found that, due to its high total flavonoid and phenolic content, white tea exhibits high antioxidant activity.

Accordingly, a 2015 study revealed that consuming white tea inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells and even helped to protect the DNA of normal cells against oxidative damage. [1]

As a result, consuming white tea may play an incredibly beneficial role in the fight against certain types of cancer.

But that’s not all. When it comes to white tea, one of the health benefits of tea drinking is that it can actually help to strengthen your teeth by fighting decay!

White tea is rich in tannins, which are known to inhibit salivary amylase (amylase is an enzyme found in saliva that helps convert starch into sugar).

Moreover, tannins also inhibit the growth of the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, which is a major factor in plaque formation. [2]

But there’s even more! White tea also contains a large amount of catechins, a flavonoid that’s been shown to help inhibit the growth of plaque bacteria on teeth.

So, as you can see, white tea offers some of the top health benefits of tea overall, from fighting the proliferation of certain types of cancer cells to protecting the integrity of your teeth!

Due to its flavor profile, people often prefer to consume it mid-morning or in the afternoon alongside a light meal or snack

2. Green tea

Green tea tends to have a slightly sweet, grassy taste with a bittersweet aftertaste. It’s known to develop a bitter taste if it isn’t brewed correctly. Using filtered water can help greatly with improving the taste.

In terms of flavor, people often like to add a little fruit, such as lemon. Some prefer to add a little honey or stevia to give it a slightly sweeter taste.

When it comes to the health benefits of tea, green tea is one of the most well-studied and documented. But what makes green tea different from other types of tea?

Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves, making it another one of the least processed teas. As a result, it contains high amounts of polyphenols, specifically catechins, and health-promoting antioxidants.

While green tea is known to provide a variety of health benefits, such as supporting both healthy weight management and blood sugar levels, it’s been extensively studied for its blood pressure-supporting abilities.

In fact, a 2014 meta-analysis of 13 trials consisting of 1,367 people confirmed that green tea has a beneficial effect on blood pressure.

Specifically, green tea consumption was shown to significantly decrease systolic blood pressure levels by 1.98 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure levels by 1.92 mmHg. [3]

Because green tea has been shown to boost focus, many prefer to drink it in the morning. You can also choose to drink it in-between meals to support health weight management efforts.

3. Oolong tea

While it’s not as well-known as some of the other teas listed here, oolong tea deserves a place in our list of recognizing the health benefits of tea, and here’s why: It’s been shown to help fight Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s!

But what, exactly, is oolong tea? This tea has been consumed in Asia for more than 2,000 years. Oolong tea is partially fermented and contains about the same amount of caffeine as black tea.

It is partially oxidized, which gives it a floral and fruity taste. People typically drink it without any sweeteners or cream.

Now, let’s get to the exciting part: the health benefits of oolong tea!

According to a 2016 study on 957 Chinese adults aged 55 and older, regular consumption of tea, including oolong tea, reduced their risk of cognitive decline by 50 percent. But researchers discovered something even more exciting!

In those who were genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, drinking the tea reduced their risk of cognitive decline by an astonishing 86 percent! [4]

Meanwhile, a 2012 meta-analysis on more than 5,500 people revealed that drinking the tea also decreased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Interestingly, the amount of tea consumed didn’t affect the results. [5]

People who drink oolong tea tend to drink it in the morning for an energy boost and in the afternoon as a replacement for black tea.

4. Black tea

Speaking of black tea, we can’t discuss the health benefits of tea without mentioning one of the most popular forms of tea today. It accounts for more than 90 percent of all tea sold in the Western hemisphere.

While black tea and green tea come from the same plant, black tea is more oxidized and processed. It’s also higher in caffeine. In addition, black tea is brewed in boiling water while green tea is steeped in warm water.

Also, while green tea offers a milder taste, black tea features a stronger taste with notes of malt, spice, honey, and fruit.

It’s often consumed hot or cold and with sweeteners and/or cream. That said, if you’re going to add anything to your black tea, I recommend using honey or stevia and a nut-based milk over dairy. This helps to ensure you get the absolute most health benefits of tea.

Speaking of the health benefits, black tea is known to fight inflammation and help reduce swelling. In fact, people often put a wet back of black tea over bruises and swollen areas to help remedy these issues. They’re also great for eye puffiness!

Specifically, black tea is high in theaflavins (a type of polyphenol), which are known to help reduce inflammation. In fact, in one study, researchers extracted theaflavin from black tea leaves and found that it inhibited certain inflammatory markers. [6]

Meanwhile, both black and green teas have been found to contain additional anti-inflammatory effects due to their high flavanol content. [7]

You can drink black tea throughout the day, and it can serve as a great alternative to coffee. Just remember to avoid it shortly before bed, due to its high caffeine content.

5. Herbal tea

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention herbal teas when discussing the health benefits of tea.

From reducing stress to aiding digestion to fighting insomnia to supporting the health of your organs, herbal teas offer some pretty incredible health benefits. And the benefits differ greatly depending on which herbal concoction you choose.

If you’re new to drinking herbal tea, consider checking out my article titled “4 Herbal Tea Blends for Wellness,” which will guide you in the right direction and help you choose which herbal tea is best for your specific situation.

That article will show you the powerful studies behind each of the recommended herbal teas and also features the very teas I use to support my own health!


Health benefits of tea - Dr. Pingel


Key Takeaways