Tea. We Britons drink a lot of the stuff, but more than just an enjoyable drink, can tea be used to support our fitness regime and help promote a healthier lifestyle?
It has been proven that, drinking tea before exercise facilitates a better workout and helps you to see improved results. Equally, a cuppa is excellent for rehydrating your body post work and helps to boost your metabolism.
All tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but the various ways of processing it produces all different types of tea. Here is a quick overview of the main varieties and the benefits of each.
Typical black tea constitutes 70% of the world’s tea consumption. One of the great benefits of the common brew is that it helps to reduce risk of atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque in the walls of any artery in the body, which lead to heart disease and chronic kidney disease. Moreover, black tea can reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
If you are bored of black tea, you might want to try herbal tea and fruit tea. Both are strains of black tea, but are caffeine free and infused with fruity flavours and natural ingredients that keep things interesting and have a number of health benefits! Typical ingredients in herbal tea are peppermint and ginger, which contain anti-inflammatory properties, aid digestion, and kill bacteria. Fruit tea flavours can include cherry, apple, blackcurrant, raspberry, orange strawberry, peach and blueberry. These tasty alternatives are naturally sugar free and low in calories.
White tea has similar benefits to black tea in that it is a good source of polyphenols which has antioxidant properties. However, unlike with a typical brew of black tea, white tea is drank without milk and due to its light and fragrant flavour there is no need for sugar, making white tea an uber healthy option. (Just a tip; use fresh water and don’t make it with boiling water, instead add water that is roughly 85 degrees centigrade. Add lemon or honey for extra flavouring.)
It could be said that of all the tea varieties green tea has the most health advantages. It can be drunk hot or cold and can be blended with things such as papaya pieces, apricot and orange peel. It does contain caffeine, but less so than black tea, owing to its different oxidisation process. Rather than leaving you with that jittery feeling, it is more gentle, providing a steady source of stimulation, which is ideal for those early morning yoga sessions. Notably, green tea is good for short term weight loss; the caffeine promotes fat-burning by increasing thermogenesis and it’s catechins boost fat oxidation. Green tea is also perfect for post-workout, because it is rich in natural antioxidants, which cleanse the body, keep blood sugar levels stable and reduce muscle damage. Compounds in green tea kill bacteria found in the mouth, which improves your breath, helping to prevent cavities and gum disease, and reducing chances of inflammation.
Chai tea is a popular fragrant Indian tea, with a combination of black tea, ginger and other spices, such as cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and potentially star anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns. Cinnamon is proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Moreover, both cinnamon and ginger can increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. However, we suggest you avoid heavily sweetened, store-bought varieties. Black pepper, ginger, cinnamon and cloves all prevent bacterial infections and help to support proper digestion. Additionally, protein from the milk in chai tea reduces hunger, so this is an ideal option if you are looking to replace the energy you have expended during your workout.
If this has peaked your interest, here are a number of tea brands that we recommend:
- Teapigs wins of our best buy product. Their extensive and inventive range of teas always keeps things interesting, and we like that they offer different teas according to their mood-o-meter; sleepy, hungover, adventurous, grumpy, indulgent, stressed, bloated, wired.
- Alternatively, you can’t go far wrong with Twinings for your everyday cup of tea. We particularly recommend their caffeine free range for fruit and herbal teas, they are tasty, reasonably priced and you can buy them easily from your local supermarket.
- If you’re feeling more adventurous try Yogi Tea. Their herb and spice teas are based on unique Ayurvedic tea recipes with roots in the 3,000-year-old Indian philosophy, and include wacky flavours such as Tumeric Chai, Rose and Licorice, Alkaline Herbs, and Choco Chili, to name but a few.
- If you are looking for a more premium brand of tea, we suggest T2. In particular their wellness range is exceptional and will certainly open you up to a new avenue of tea flavourings.