While green tea has been garnering most of the great press, black tea-the more oxidized kind you’re most likely to have grown up with-still packs plenty of disease-fighting antioxidants. Research suggests that drinking black tea regularly reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Plus, it contains the amino acid L-theanine, which puts you in a relaxed but alert state of mind.
This is black tea from China that’s been aged for five years, and has been found (at least in rat studies) to lower cholesterol better than regular black tea. "It is very uncommon-and it tastes like dirt," says Holliday. To offset the taste, l’ge de Thé sells pu-erh with caramel added.
What can’t green tea do? Preliminary lab and epidemiological evidence say that a green tea habit may reduce your risks for osteoporosis, glaucoma, periodontal disease, lung cancer (in smokers) plus these other cancers: oral, skin, stomach and prostate. Some data also suggest that the beverage, which has less caffeine but more L-theanine than black tea, may help you lose weight.
A powder that consists of finely ground green tea leaves, matcha has a high concentration of chlorophyll and contains ten times as many antioxidants as regular green tea. Matcha is blended with a liquid and then ingested; it’s not steeped the way most teas are.
For a green tea latte, Holliday suggests mixing 1 teaspoon of matcha to 1/3 cup of warm-hot, but not boiling, water, then whisk them in a small bowl until the top slightly foams. Add 8oz of warm-hot milk, soy milk or almond milk. If you like things a bit sweeter then Kiley suggests adding a teaspoon of raw honey. You’ll get a drink that, she says, tastes like "warm green tea ice cream."
White tea leaves come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, as the green sort, but they are harvested at a much younger age. As a result, white tea has about three times the antioxidant level as green, and also a bit less caffeine. "Really good white tea has a distinct taste and will leave a silky feeling at the top of your mouth," says Holliday.
Also known as red tea, this caffeine-free herbal brew comes from a red bush native to South Africa. "It is high in antioxidants-though not as high as green tea-and has a nice mineral content: iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc and magnesium," Holliday notes. Bonus: Rooibos soothes distressed stomachs.
Separately or together, teas from these two herbs amount to a big chill pill. Neither contain caffeine, and both have a calming effect, which can be helpful if you have trouble falling asleep. Chamomile also helps reduces digestive problems.