Kristi Whitley

Healthy Living

Tea: Green, White, Rooibos, Herbal

Tea: It is much more than iced and sweet
I can’t believe that I haven’t written about this passion of mine before now. When I gave up meat, dairy, sugar, wheat, soy, and most caffeine, tea was the only treat I had left. I delved into the world of herbal, green, white and rooibos teas for health and pleasure. The tea world is so expansive and complex I could never cover it here so I’ll just tell you about my favorites. (It’s usually all about me, right?)
Caffeine taught me that the caffeine content of green tea varies greatly by brand of tea and length of brew time. Using 2g of tea in 8oz. of water steeped for 3 minutes produced a range of 11.2mg-47.8mg of caffeine depending on the brand. By comparison, coffee has 95-200mg per 8oz. cup. Considering this, I always brew my green tea very weak and I reuse my tea bag or leaves two or three times. Because the half-life of caffeine in the blood stream is 6 hours, I never drink green tea after noon.
Green and White Teas
Green and white teas are both from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. White tea is made up of the first tender leaves that appear in spring. They are minimally processed compared to green or black tea and therefore retain more of their antioxidants and phytochemicals. Also, due to their developmental stage, contain less caffeine than green or black teas.  Because white tea is only harvested in the very early stages of growth once a year, it is less available and a little more expensive than other teas.
Green and white teas have similar health benefits as they both contain cancer and age fighting antioxidants. They are both anti-microbial, fighting bacteria and viruses. The anti-microbial activity also promotes healthy gums and teeth and fights bad breath. This same anti-microbial activity may kill beneficial bacteria in the gut, so drink wisely. Limit brewing time to limit strength of the tea and limit intake to two cups per day. On the contrary, if symptoms of a cold or virus arise, consume large quantities of green or white tea with honey and lemon to increase the anti-oxidant and anti-microbial benefits.
One of the catechins found in tea, EGCG is being thoroughly investigated for it’s anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits. As is found in a cup of tea the dosage is not enough to have a clinical effect on cardiovascular health or cancer cells. Concentrated as a supplement it is showing promising results in animal and test tube studies. Keep a look out for this powerful compound in the news.
Herbal Teas

This category includes liquid extracted from anything that has been steeped in water. The list is endless so I’ll just focus on my favorites. (Surprised?)
When I have a cold or allergy attack nothing soothes like the tea steeped from a hunk of fresh peeled ginger dressed with a squeeze of lemon and a spoonful of honey. The ginger is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and tastes great. The lemon and honey share the same properties. Add some bourbon after the cold is cured and oooh mama!
Hibiscus teas are popular and come in a variety of fruity combinations. Hibiscus tea is suspected to maintain healthy blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.  The best reason to drink this tea is the mild, pleasant taste and the lack of caffeine. Try one of the many Republic of Tea varieties. They are delicious hot or iced.
I lean toward spice, apple, peppermint, and chai varieties of herbal tea in the winter. They seem to comfort the most. In the summer, I go for the fruity and minty varieties and always drink them iced.
Red (Rooibos, African Red Bush)
Relatively new in the US, this tea is not from the Camellia sinensis plant. It is from a plant called African Red Bush or Aspalathus linearis. It is actually an herb, not a bush.
Major benefits of rooibos tea are it’s lack of caffeine and it’s natural sweetness. It also has high mineral content making it beneficial for bone and vascular health. Red rooibos tea is fermented and has a distinct sweet flavor. Green rooibos is not fermented and has a more mellow flavor. You may like rooibos tea plain but I like the flavor hidden with chai and other spicy flavors.
Best Teas
I read recently that some popular tea brands contain pesticides. One of the worst offenders was my favorite tea store, Teavana. BooHoo. Their Earl Grey white and Jasmine Pearl Green are still a big treat for me. All their herbals are delicious.
Celestial Seasonings was also a big offender. I like their fruit teas and chamomile blends but don’t have an absolute favorite. They make a variety called Candy Cane for Trader Joe’s to sell in winter that I buy every year.
Bigelow is my absolute favorite brand. Earl Grey green, Jasmine green, and Constant Comment green are staples in my cupboard. I have one of them every morning. Their mint, lemon, and chamomile blends are favorites too. Bigelow really rocks with variety packs. My tastes change with my mood so I like having a huge variety on hand. Fortunately, it has a lower pesticide content than the others. Another benefit of Bigelow is the individual foil wrapping which probably isn’t healthy but it is darn convenient to carry in my purse, which increases my quality of life.
One of the best brands I’ve tried is Rishi. Their tea is really clean and very delicious. I am enjoying a Jasmine Silver Needle of theirs now. Yum! It is a little more expensive than Bigelow, is loose-leaf, and harder to find so it is a treat when I get a new one I like.
Republic of Tea makes several delicious teas. They are the only company I have found that sells green rooibos. I love the Plantain Coconut green rooibos. It is much milder with all the health benefits of red rooibos. They also excel with hibiscus blends. Their tea ranks high in purity and quality.
Like I said, this is a tiny glimpse into the world of tea. These are the teas I drink for pleasure. There are a few others I drink as a supplement for their nutritive value, but that’s a whole other letter. Buy a variety pack of tea today and enjoy it hot or iced for pleasure and health!
All the best,
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.