Many people in the West regard green tea as a healthier alternative to black tea as it is low in caffeine and high in antioxidants. Plenty of health conscious tea drinkers have made the switch from black to green, and with a new report from Japan linking both green tea and coffee with a reduction in the risk of strokes, its popularity seems likely to increase. Here we outline five of the top types of non-black teas and explain their health benefits.
This is the variety that most of us recognise when we say ‘green tea’. Longjing means Dragon Well, and hails from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, China. It contains vitamin C, amino acid and a concentration of catechins. High quality Longjiang tea is very expensive; most of the green tea that reaches supermarket shelves in the West is in fact an imitation of Longjiang tea, often from the Yunnan, Guizhou or Sichuan Provinces. To prepare a green tea like Longjiang, do not use boiling water, but heat it to around 75 degrees Celsius.
This traditional Chinese tea has been oxidised more than standard green tea, but not as much as black tea. It is very popular in southern China, Taiwan and South-East Asia, as well as Japan where it is considered even healthier than green tea because it contains a comparatively large amount of polyphenols – a type of nutrient thought to be responsible for tea’s health benefits.
This is the type of tea which is prepared in a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. With a thick texture, vivid green colour and bitter taste, matcha is a very different drink from your average mug of Builder’s. The leaves in matcha have been ground into a fine green powder which is then dissolved in water, rather than infused as is the case with most other teas, which means that the amino acids are particularly concentrated.
This is what the Chinese actually know as ‘black tea’ (they refer to what we call black tea as red tea), and has a very delicate and subtle flavour. The leaves are compacted into a cake, in which they are dried. To prepare the tea, use a knife to remove a few leaves from the cake and add them to water which is just below boiling temperature. Pu-erh has a comparatively high level of vitamin C, and in China it is thought to help cure hangovers.
Despite its name, this tea is not white, but yellow; it is named after the fine, white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant. Of all tea varieties, white tea is thought to contain the most antioxidants, and like Oolong tea, has a high ratio of polyphenols and catechins, which have been known to reduce the risks of strokes and some forms of cancer.
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