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You Asked: Is Black Tea Good For My Health?

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(NC)óData emerging from several recent studies on black, green, and oolong tea Ė each one derived from the same plant species, camellia senensis Ė consistently demonstrate that tea may indeed give your diet a boost. The findings have sparked great interest, so here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions, courtesy of the Tea Association of Canada:

Q: What health benefits are attributed to tea?

A: More people are turning to tea for its antioxidant appeal. Antioxidants are compounds, which neutralize free radicals and potentially protect against disease. Tea is rich in antioxidant plant compounds called flavonoids, which are widely believed to prevent damage to body cells that can result in cancers. As such it is good to incorporate them into the diet. The antioxidant activity in two cups of tea equals that of seven glasses of orange juice.

Q: What are the varieties of tea?

A: Traditional tea is black, green, and oolong Ė and all are calorie-free. Black tea is the most familiar; green tea is also familiar to health-conscious Canadians; and oolong tea is highly popular in the Chinese culture. From these, as many as 3,000 blends are available, including flavoured teas. Herbal infusions or tisanes, such as chamomile, rosehip, fennel, or peppermint, are made from various kinds of plants and do not contain any real tealeaves. The term "herbal tea" is somewhat of a misnomer.

Q: Which has more caffeine, black tea or coffee?

A: If caffeine is of concern, do note that 400-450 milligrams of caffeine is considered a safe and moderate daily intake. One cup of tea contains 30 to 50 percent less caffeine compared to a cup of coffee, which means that enjoying even several cups of tea every day can fit into a healthy eating plan. Decaffeinated tea is an alternative for those who want to avoid caffeine altogether.

Q: How do I maximize the benefits from each cup or pot?

A: As the research indicates, you can enjoy one or more cups of green, black, or oolong tea every day. To maximize the amount of flavonoids released from tea, use boiling water and brew it for at least three to five minutes. When making a single cup, dunk the tea bag continuously to increase the release of flavonoids.

More information is available online at www.tea.ca.

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