After water, tea is the most frequently consumed beverage in the world. Which make sense; tea goes hand in hand with images of Asia, the United Kingdom, India, Russia. But how about here in the old United States of America? It might not seem like we have a booming tea culture, but the fact is that on any given day, more than half of the American population drinks tea. But here’s the twist: 85 percent of that tea is served on the rocks.
While heavily sweetened iced tea can’t really be considered a health food, iced tea in general is a super salubrious quaff. Regardless of the temperature it is served at, tea is chock full of good things. There has been much research done, and compelling conclusions that tea can reduce the risk of heart disease, and possibly even help prevent a number of others. In warmer weather, having your tea iced is a great way to reap the benefits all year.
Whether black, green, white or oolong – all of which come from the same plant, just processed differently – all teas do a body good. Here are a few of the ways in which they do so (with the caveat that you aren’t drinking tea drenched in sugar).
1. Keeps you hydrated
Dehydration sucks. Hydration is good. The Harvard School of Public Health lists tea as one of the best sources of hydration, second only to water. Yay!
2. Boosts your antioxidants
Everything is all about the antioxidants these days, we can’t seem to escape the heaping of accolades on these plant compounds that fight cell-damaging free radicals in the body. But if they really prove to be as beneficial as science seems to think they are, then we should be scarfing them down as frequently as possible! And on that note, according to WebMD, tea has about eight to 10 times the polyphenol antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
3. Offers a superior swap for sugary soda
A 12-ounce can of regular Coke contains 39 grams of total sugar, which is about 9 1/2 teaspoons of sugar and 140 calories. Twelve ounces of unsweetened iced tea has 0 teaspoons of sugar and 2 calories.
4. May help your teeth
Some research has shown that drinking tea may help prevent tooth loss; tea changes the pH in your mouth, which may prevent cavities. At the very least, it appears not to harm tooth enamel like some beverages do.
5. Could fight cancer
The Tea Association of the USA explains that more than 3,000 published research studies exist that evaluate the role tea and tea compounds, such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may play in cancers of various sites. The effects apply to a number of different cancers and are linked to varying degrees of significant success.
6. Provides a surprise source of manganese
OK so maybe you don’t go around wondering how you can get more manganese in your diet, but hey, it can’t hurt. An 8-ounce glass of brewed black iced tea provides 520 micrograms of manganese, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 23 percent for men. According to SF Gate, manganese promotes healthy wound healing, helps maintain the strength of your bones and supports your metabolism.
7. Chills the nerves
A British study found that people who drank tea were able to de-stress more quickly than those who didn’t. As well, during the study the tea drinkers – who drank black tea four times a day for six weeks – had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood after a stressful event, compared with a control group who drank a placebo.
8. Helps your heart
“There’s a lot of literature out there on tea and heart health,” says Anna Ardine, clinical nutrition manager at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “This is a health effect for which there is the strongest evidence.”
In fact, reports Today.com, a comprehensive review study found a nearly 20 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 35 percent reduced risk of stroke among those who drank one to three cups of green tea daily. “Those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 32 percent reduction in the risk of having a heart attack and lower levels of LDL cholesterol.”
You can make iced tea by brewing tea traditionally and then adding ice or allowing it to cool, or you can make sun tea. You can use any type of true tea – or herb tea. You can toss in citrus, fruits, herbs or spices when you steep it for additional flavor. Go crazy! Mix things up, how about adding lemon, mint and ginger to black tea? Peaches and lime to white tea? Raspberries and orange slices would go beautifully with Earl Gray. Have a tea free-for-all, have fun … and reap the many benefits along the way.