Tea, which comes from boiling the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant in water, has been around in China for thousands of years. It slowly spread to the rest of the world and has been influenced by dozens of cultures. Today, tea is available in nearly limitless varieties and blends; however, it can be categorized into four types: black, green, white and oolong.
Herbal teas, despite their name, are considered infusions since they aren't made from the tea plant. These drinks, however, are commonly called teas and offer many notable health benefits.
Seniors interested in enjoying a cup of tea should be cautious about consuming large amounts of commercial tea, such as bubble tea and bottled teas, which usually are loaded with sugar, artificial flavors and dyes.
Since tea blends are fairly easy to prepare, seniors can eliminate the unwanted ingredients by using the kitchenette in their assisted living apartment to make it themselves.
Oxidization after harvest gives black tea a strong aroma and color.
Black tea's health benefits are a source of interest for many researchers since it makes up 84% of the tea consumed in the U.S.
Results of recent studies have shown that black tea is rich in antioxidants, which are believed to reduce cell damage and protect against cancer.
Other findings include promising heart health benefits, including reducing cholesterol and blood pressure while slowing the buildup of plaque in arteries.
Special care is taken when harvesting and drying green tea to prevent fermentation and oxidation, which mellows out the flavor.
Much like black tea, green tea is considered heart-healthy and is loaded with antioxidants thought to reduce the risk of cancers such as breast, prostate and colorectal. Green tea drinkers may also have a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes and have greater control over their blood sugar levels.
Additionally, green tea, which is rich in catechin compounds, may play a role in protecting individuals from developing neurodegenerative diseases as they age. Studies have demonstrated positive results in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Seniors looking to lower their caffeine intake may want to try white tea. Minimally processed using unopened buds and leaves, it's considered one of the mildest types.
It's higher in antioxidants than other teas and has good results in studies researching its anti-inflammatory effects. Benefits observed have included improved brain health, a lower risk of osteoporosis and a slowing of the skin's aging process.
Oolong tea offers the best of green and black teas. It's partially fermented during processing, giving it the same beneficial compounds as the other two teas.
Researchers shows oolong tea lowers total cholesterol, including triglycerides and LDL levels, in individuals who'd been drinking the beverage for a long time. Other studies have been conducted into oolong's ability to boost weight loss and increase dental health.
Unlike most teas, which are strained after the steeping process, matcha is made from tea leaves that are ground into a fine powder and included in the drink. The leaves are a much darker green color than other teas as a result of high chlorophyll levels triggered by a unique growing process.
Since the entire leaf is used to create matcha, it has a higher amount of nutrients, antioxidants and caffeine than green tea. These compounds include L-theanine, which increases alertness, reduces drops in energy after consuming caffeine and decreases stress levels, according to scientific research.
This tea is commonly created from green tea and jasmine flowers. The combination offers seniors the health benefits of green tea while enhancing them with those of the flowers.
Jasmine flowers are also high in antioxidants, making the combination a powerhouse for potentially warding off age-related cell damage. The tantalizing aroma offered by the tea has unique benefits to bring to the mix, including helping relax tense nerves and improve mood.
Whether seniors call it a tea or an herbal infusion, the healthy properties of ginger tea remain the same. Seniors who struggle with symptoms caused by slow digestion may want to drink ginger tea to maintain their gut health. The mild spice is noted to speed digestion, which can relieve several stomach issues, including nausea.
Peppermint has been included in food and commercial products for years due to its appealing scent. Peppermint contains menthol, which when breathed in has several health benefits, according to research.
Individuals with congestion caused by colds and flu can try drinking steaming cups of peppermint tea to relieve some of their symptoms. Menthol also has a cooling effect that's believed to help reduce tension headaches.
Peppermint can relieve stomach aches, bloating and gas. However, seniors who have GERD should be cautious about adding peppermint tea to their diets as the drink may aggravate the condition and trigger heartburn.
Like chamomile, lavender and valerian root, lemon balm is an herb used to treat insomnia. As adults age, sleep disorders become more common, leading to low energy levels in the day and insomnia.
Studies have also shown lemon balm to help lower stress and anxiety, furthering its potential as a natural sleep aid. The plant can improve cognitive function and ease pain from headaches and toothaches as well.