As winter weather blankets half of the country and snow falls in record breaking totals, many of us would like nothing more than to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Aside from water,
tea is the most consumed beverage on the planet — and for good reason! It provides us with an array of health benefits, and it tastes delicious. The important thing to remember is that there are many different types of tea, and each type has its own qualities. Some tea can help us drift off to sleep, while others help us stay alert. Don’t be overwhelmed by the varieties of tea — here is a helpful guide so you can choose the right tea for your mood.

Green Tea
All types of “true” teas are made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The differences come from the harvesting and fermentation process.The ancient Chinese and Indian cultures that developed this tea have long been aware of their benefits. Green tea is un-oxidized, meaning that it is harvested before being exposed to oxygen-rich air which causes it to have the highest levels of antioxidants, such as vitamins A and E and lycopene, which fight signs of ageing and prevent disease. Un-oxidized tea also contains low levels of caffeine (about 30 milligrams per 8 oz cup) making it an excellent choice for soothing sore throats, since it will not dehydrate the vocal tract. The benefits don’t stop there! In a recent study by The National Cancer Institute, the polyphenols found in green tea were shown to reduce tumor growth in laboratory experiments and stimulate the immune system. Green tea such as this Lipton Green Tea often has a pleasant “earthy” taste that many drinkers find soothing.

Black Tea
Black tea is named for the color that the leaves turn when they are dried and oxidized and is the most widely consumed type of tea. It is referred to as “red tea” in some cultures for the color of the liquid that the tea leaves produce. Even though it is oxidized, it still contains many healthy antioxidants, which prevent DNA damage caused by toxins in the body. The oxidization process causes black tea to contain high levels of caffeine (about 50 milligrams per 8 oz cup) which can boost your metabolism and help to wake you up in the morning. This makes tea varieties such as Pickwick Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea a nice alternative to a cup of coffee.

White Tea
The leaves of white teas are harvested before the buds open, which causes them to be un-oxidized and therefore contain high levels of the same antioxidants found in green teas. In a recent study by Pace University, white tea was found to be the best type of tea for killing many harmful pathogens, such as bacteria, virus and fungi. The leaves are steamed and dried which creates a delicate, sometimes floral flavor. One of my personal favorites is the Berry White Tea by Organa.

Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea that originated in the Fujian province centuries ago. The leaves are partially fermented, which makes oolong tea fall somewhere between green and black tea. While you may not be familiar with the name “oolong tea”, you may have already consumed it at a Chinese restaurant. Because oolong tea is caffeinated, it can boost mental alertness which makes it an excellent choice for a midday pick-me-up.

Herbal Tea
Technically speaking, herbal tea is not actually tea at all! Herbal tea often does not contain leaves from the camellia sinensis plant, but does still contain organic ingredients that can be helpful in other ways. For example, chamomile is a popular herbal tea that contains the amino acid tryptophan (think, ‘turkey coma!’) that induces feelings of calm and sleepiness, making it a perfect bedtime choice. If you are suffering from a cold, tea containing thyme can help relieve your symptoms. Peppermint tea is a popular wintertime choice that can settle queasy stomachs.Thyme is another common ingredient in herbal tea, which contains essential oils that act as a decongestant and also protect against infections.

When choosing the right tea, the most important thing to look for is the ingredient label. Make sure you select teas with organic ingredients that contain no artificial preservatives. Many of the teas on are also Rainforest Alliance Certified, which means that the habitats in which the tea is grown, as well as the workers who harvest the tea, are protected, so you can rest easy knowing that you’ve made an excellent tea purchase!

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