Guide to the health benefits of tea and coffee
Whether you are a morning person or not, you probably have a habitual hot beverage that helps you kick-start the day. Coffee lovers across the globe can’t face work without a steaming latte in hand, while many British tea drinkers feel out of kilter without a strong builder’s brew.
And hot drinks aren’t only reserved to the morning hours. We rely on tea and coffee for so many things: to welcome us home, to boost morale and even lull us to sleep. You might sip honey-infused matcha green tea when feeling unwell, trust espresso to power you through a project or enjoy a snuggly Sunday hot chocolate to soften the pace of life.
While hot drinks can be cheering, reviving, or relaxing, the first function of tea and coffee is staying hydrated – and there are many surprising benefits to your favourite hot drinks. Read on to discover the many purported health benefits of tea and coffee.
Black tea benefits
Arguably the most popular hot drink the in UK, black tea is best loved for its strong flavour and powerful caffeine buzz. There are some benefits to drinking up to four cups of black tea per day, as it is thought to have antioxidant properties. However, most people take black tea primarily for its rich, malty flavour. In Britain, the prevalent English Breakfast blend is often served with milk and sugar, although there is a whole world of black tea that many of us have yet to explore. The taste, colour and aroma is dependent on many factors, including the country or region where is it grown, the year of harvest and the grade. There are so many varieties to discover, from full bodied Assam grown in India to lively Ceylon from the mountains of Sri Lanka and the delicate, floral notes of Darjeeling – hailed as the ‘champagne of tea’.
Green tea benefits
Green tea tastes more astringent, earthy, and grassy than black tea, which is by contrast more malty and nuttier. The benefits of green tea are widely reported, and many people brew green tea for several minutes and take it without milk to make the most of its health-promoting properties. All types of tea – both green and black – come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis). This lush green plant contains an active compound called polyphenols, more commonly known as antioxidants. The key difference between black and green tea is that black tea is fully fermented and oxidised, which is why green tea appears much lighter in colour and has a better antioxidant profile. Antioxidants are thought to benefit heart health because they combat oxidation of fats in the blood. Some experts also state that the health benefits of green tea can support weight loss as it makes the metabolism more efficient, as well as protecting the body against damaging free radicals.
Chamomile tea benefits
Many of us reach for the chamomile tea when we’ve had a tough day or are feeling stressed or need soothing to sleep. Chamomile is a herb that produces tiny flowers that resemble daisies. The flowers are dried and brewed in boiling water to make calming and comforting chamomile tea. The well-known relaxing properties of chamomile tea may be due to its phytonutrient content. It contains a compound called apigenin, which is believed to reduce anxiety and promote sleepiness and better sleep quality. Some health experts also believe that chamomile tea can help improve blood sugar regulation in those with diabetes.
Peppermint tea benefits
Cool and refreshing peppermint tea is made from dried or loose peppermint leaves. The leaves contain essential oils including menthol, menthone and limonene that are released when steeped in hot water. These essential oils give peppermint tea a wonderfully refreshing flavour. There are many peppermint tea benefits. It is best known for aiding digestive issues, as it can have a relaxing effect on the digestive system, and many people find it helps ease gas and bloating. The menthol aroma and taste of peppermint tea also make it well suited to improving nasal airflow when you have a cold, sinus issues or allergies such as hay fever.
Ginger tea benefits
Antioxidant rich ginger is a well-known culinary spice, and dried or fresh ginger is also used to make warming, slightly spicy tasting tea. You can buy dried, loose ginger tea, or also brew your own by slicing fresh ginger and leaving it to steep in hot water. Like peppermint tea, ginger tea is widely consumed to help combat digestive issues and nausea. Ginger contains key phytonutrients known as gingerols, and research has shown that these can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Many people can’t imagine starting the day without a kick of caffeine in the form of a frothy cappuccino or luxurious latte. Even the mere aroma of freshly ground coffee beans can improve your mood. One of the world’s most popular beverages, coffee has a high level of antioxidants and benefits, as the high caffeine content is thought to help raise energy levels and physical performance. It can improve mood, vigilance, reaction times and general mental function, and is also believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect when consumed in moderation.
Maca powder benefits
The maca plant, also known as Peruvian ginseng, is widely believed to have many benefits and health boosting properties. This nutrient-packed cruciferous vegetable grows in high altitudes in the mountainous regions of the Andes and Peru, where people have long used it for medicinal purposes. Now popular across the globe, many people add maca root powder to hot drinks such as tea, smoothies and porridge. It has a very distinctive earthy and nutty taste, and contains a rich nutrient profile including vitamin C, copper, iron and bioactive plant compounds. It is thought to improve mood, boost performance and may even improve brain function.
Now that you know the health benefits of tea and coffee, why not creative and try one of these delicious drinks recipes?