Ditch the Coffee – 3 Healthy Teas for Your Morning Caffeine Needs

Healthy Eating Friday, July 26, 2013 Written by

Pop quiz: What is the most widely consumed beverage in the world? Coffee? Soft drinks? Beer?

No, no and no. It’s tea.

Compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. has never been a tea-guzzling nation. However, as a slew of medical research rolls in showing the health benefits of tea, many Americans are giving this drink a second look.

What’s so great about tea?

The health benefits of tea are quite impressive: Studies have found that teas may lower the risk of cancer, help prevent heart disease and diabetes, aid weight loss and even lower cholesterol. If that’s not enough, tea may also improve mental alertness and slow the aging process.

Ready to pour yourself a cup? Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of tea, plus a few places you can try some unique varieties.

Types of Tea

Much like fine wine, beer, or even chocolate, tea can have many different flavors. It all depends on the type of tea plant, the way the leaves are processed, and any added flavors (such as jasmine or earl grey).

Black Tea: Black tea is made by drying and fermenting tea leaves, which produces a darker, stronger-flavored brew (think dark roasted coffee compared to a lighter, “blonde” roast). Black tea has the highest amount of caffeine and the most robust flavor, making it well suited for pairing with other flavors (like Chai spice or vanilla). The most common types of black tea are Assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling.

Green Tea: Green tea is made by simply steaming the leaves of the tea plant. Because the leaves are not fermented, green tea retains more natural antioxidants. There are many green tea varieties: Japanese Sencha, which has a fresh, grassy flavor; Japanese Genmiacha, one that  includes toasted rice; Chinese Dragon Well, which is a bit more delicate; and Chinese Gunpowder, a stronger and somewhat smoky tea. Lastly, matcha is a finely ground powder made from Japanese green tea that is very high in antioxidants. It’s often blended with milk to make green tea lattes and desserts.

White Tea: Unprocessed and unfermented, white tea is the most “pure” form of the tea leaf. Therefore, it offers the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea variety. White tea is often blended with floral or fruit essences, which provide a bit more flavor to the otherwise mild tea.

You may be wondering why you didn’t see some popular herbal teas in this list. Teas like rooibos, chamomile, mint and others aren’t actually true “teas” since they’re not made from the leaf of the tea plant.

Where to get a great cup of tea

Even in the latte-obsessed northwest, tea consumption has been growing. A few places to try:

  • Teavana: A national chain, Teavana is the Starbucks of the tea world, with several Northwest locations including Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.
  • Remedy Teas: Billed as “Seattle’s Organic Tea Company and Café,” Remedy offers a wide selection of teas and specialty blends that are sold by the ounce. The café brews more than 150 teas, plus tea lattes, matcha and chai specials in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood.
  • Miro Tea: Miro offers a wide selection of teas to purchase by the ounce. You can also enjoy in house while munching on a homemade crepe and surfing the internet along with Seattle’s hipster scene.