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Real tea comes from the camilla bush, which grows at higher elevations in China. Because leaves have a high surface area they are exposed to a lot of the sun's radiation and oxidative damage.

Green tea (dry weight) is made up of 30-40% of water soluble polyphenols which protect the tea leaves from free radicals produced by radiation and oxidation.

Black tea is fermented and oxidized and has only about 1/4 as many of these polyphenols according to the researchers in China.

Most studies show black tea is about as effective as green tea for reducing cardiovascular disease risk but the evidence for cancer reduction appears a bit stronger for green tea. On the other hand, black tea may contain phytochemicals a bit better at reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

More research is needed to really tell what the net benefits are for different types of tea but they all appear to be a healthy option and if you are in a restaurant and want a beverage, tea is likely the healthiest option (unless from a sugary mix). The nice thing about tea is it is good hot or cold so it can displace sodas and fruit drinks and makes a good "sports" drink too and it appears a healthier option than coffee too (especially if the latter has cream and sugar).

Tea is good hot or cold so it can displace soda and other sweetened beverages; it makes a great sports beverage for light workouts and appears to be a better option than coffee”

By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, LD, FACN

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