Whether you’re a novice or experienced tea drinker, you may have some questions about the differences between the main types of tea, like when’s the best time to drink each one, or what their distinct benefits are.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of black tea, green tea, herbal tea and chai to give you a better understanding of tea in general.
Black tea is the most familiar type of tea on the market. It’s strong and heavily oxidised, with a nearly black appearance and red coloration when brewed. Black teas account for nearly 90% of all tea sales in the West.
Black tea is commonly drunk as a “pick-me-up” because of its high caffeine content, and/or as an alternative to coffee in many parts of the world. Because of the caffeine content, it’s best not to drink black tea later in the afternoon, or before bed.
Overall, black tea is a great choice for a morning cuppa or a midday pick-me-up, due to its strength and caffeine levels.
There are many other benefits of black tea too, such as:
- High levels of antioxidants (polyphenols)
- Lower risks of diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney stones, and Parkinson’s disease
- Reduced risk of some types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer
Green tea has become very popular in Australia over the last two decades, and the benefits of green tea are still being explored by scientists. Green tea is harvested from tea plants before they go through the withering and oxidation process that results in black tea.
Because of this, it has a milder flavour and lower caffeine content – about half that of black tea. This makes it more appropriate for consuming in the afternoon or evening.
Green tea is also purported to have a number of health benefits, such as:
- High levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants (polyphenols)
- Proven to boost the metabolism and ability to burn fat in humans
- A lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
“Chai” refers to any tea that has additional spices and herbs. Chai tea comes from India, and it can have a variety of different benefits, based on the herbs and additional compounds used. Chai tends to have a slightly less caffeine than black tea, so it’s more suitable for those with a low caffeine tolerance.
A few of the most-studied Chai tea benefits include:
- Chai tea with cinnamon may reduce your blood pressure and ensure heart health
- Ginger in chai tea can help control blood sugar and cholesterol
- Chai tea has anti-nausea effects due to the presence of ginger, and antibacterial properties
Herbal tea is actually not “tea” at all, but in fact a blend of different herbs that are steeped to create a “tea”. Herbal tea benefits can vary wildly, based on the type of herbs used – from peppermint to lavender, yerba mate to chamomile, and much more.
Let’s look at a few benefits of peppermint tea – one of the most common herbal teas – now.
- The aroma and flavour of peppermint helps soothe headaches and upset stomachs
- Menthol in peppermint tea helps fight sinus issues
- Peppermint tea has antibacterial and analgesic (pain relieving) properties
- Peppermint tea aids digestion
There are also other types of herbal tea for weight loss. In animal studies, herbal teas like rooibos and were shown to increase the metabolism and fat burning abilities of rats.
There’s really no bad time to drink herbal teas. But because many types of herbal tea, such as chamomile, have relaxing properties, they’re great consumed in the evening or just before bed.
Which Teas Should You Drink? All of Them!
All of the teas we’ve mentioned above are delicious, packed full of antioxidants, and have a number of health benefits. So why just pick one? You can drink a different tea every day – your mind, body, and tastebuds will thank you for it!