Tea is probably one of the most salubrious beverages around: It’s replete with anti-cancer properties, antioxidants, mood enhancers and can even aid weight loss, says Sheeba Majmudar, our Ask the Nutritionist columnist. But not all teas are made equal. Black, oolong, green and white teas are made from the same plant (camellia sinensis), but turn out different partly due to their oxidation levels. Black is the most oxidised followed by oolong, green and white tea, says Taha Bouqdib, president of TWG Tea.
As a tea becomes more oxidised, it exhibits a greater amount of theaflavins and thearubigins (antioxidants). But in the process, it also loses another class of antioxidants known as catechins, says Majmudar. What’s your best bet? Green tea, apparently. It offers the best balance of benefits, she says. “It is less processed, exhibits lower caffeine levels and contains l-theanine, which can have a relaxing effect on the body and even enhance your memory.”
The most oxidised kind of tea isn’t without its plus points either. A joint study conducted by the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and the National University of Singapore has revealed that black tea intake may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease among Asians. Study author Dr Louis Tan, senior consultant neurologist from the NNI, theorises that thearubigins and theaflavins in black tea may be able to prevent or even fight against Parkinson’s. More research is needed to confirm this effect.
All teas don’t come from one plant. Take the uberhealthy rooibos tea for instance. Made from a shrub known as aspalathus linearis, it forms a reddish brew that is very high in antioxidants that offer anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects, says Majmudar. What’s more, it doesn’t contain caffeine and possesses a slew of beneficial minerals like calcium, manganese and potassium.