Tea can be a healthful habit to start (or continue) for many seniors. But before you put the kettle on and enjoy cuppas and conversations with friends at Autumn View Gardens in Ellisville, make sure you understand what tea is and why it may bring a positive impact to your day.
Tea refers to an infusion of the Camellia sinensis plant. The flowers or leaves of the plant are steeped in water, and the resulting beverage is tea. But we call a lot of things "tea" that are actually infusions of other plants, such as hibiscus, rooibos or peppermint. The actual tea plant only produces four types of tea: oolong, black, white and green.
Those other herbal "teas" also offer numerous benefits, and seniors may enjoy drinking them either cold or hot. But this article focuses on the primary four types of tea noted above.
Tea can be a great alternative to coffee for those who like a warm beverage in the morning but must give up the grind because of stomach woes or issues with caffeine.
Contrary to what some people believe, tea isn't all caffeine free. Depending on how strong you brew it, though, most tea comes in much lower than coffee's 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce cup. Here's what kind of caffeine total you can except in 8 ounces of different types of tea.
Black tea: 40 to 70 milligrams
Green tea: 35 to 45 milligrams
White tea: 15 to 30 milligrams
Oolong tea: 37 to 55 milligrams
Herbal infusions don't have any caffeine. Examples of herbal teas without caffeine include mint, ginger and chamomile, but you do have to be sure there is no actual tea (camellia sinensis) in the mix if you want no caffeine at all. For example, lemon ginger is a popular blend for black teas, which means black tea is mixed with lemon and ginger plants — that brew will have caffeine in it.
Numerous studies have shown that drinking moderate portions of tea on a regular basis may provide some health benefits, including:
Reduced risks of heart attack or cardiovascular disease
Reduced risks of cancer thanks to the antioxidant properties of tea
Enhanced ability to fight free radicals in the body
Additional hydration, since tea is mostly water
These are only some of the benefits associated with tea, and the type of tea or infusion you drink can make a difference in the benefits. For example, both white tea and hibiscus infusions are believed to help reduce blood pressure.
Tea is not medication, though, so it's important for seniors to consult their doctors or dietitians before making any substantial changes in diet. While tea is certainly a healthy beverage, suddenly drinking several cups of a certain kind of tea each morning can have an adverse impact on health for those who are dealing with certain conditions or taking certain medications.