Tea: What exactly am I drinking?

by Brooke Davis April 28, 2016

Tea: What exactly am I drinking?

You should know by now that drinking tea is one of the best things you can do for your health, alongside eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and following stress management protocols such as Yoga or meditation. But that's probably why you're here. :)

So, what exactly is in tea that makes it so healthy? We'll discuss more of the science in another article, but a good start is understanding the ingredients that are used in various teas and tea blends.

Traditional One Ingredient Teas

green tea

Traditional teas such as green, black, white, oolong and pu'erh teas are all made from one ingredient...the camellia sinensis plant. The different colors come from the length of the time the leaves are allowed to ferment/oxidize - longer fermentation periods lead to darker leaves.

Studies have shown many different health benefits from regular consumption of green tea, but the primary compound that may be responsible for this is a type of antioxidant called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). In fact, "...several epidemiological studies have indicated that pronounced cardiovascular and metabolic health benefits can be obtained by regular consumption of 5-6 or more cups of green tea per day."

Floral, Herbal, Dried Fruit and Custom Tea Blends

floral tea

Tea blends such as floral teas, herbal, dried fruit and other custom blends will use a combination of ingredients, which may, or may not, include the traditional tea leaf. Some of those ingredients and their benefits have been outlined below.

Goji Berries
Goji Berry
Goji berries are packed with antioxidants and are an excellent source of Vitamin C. They also add a sweet, herb-like flavor to the tea.
Green Tea
Sencha Green Tea
Sencha is made from green tea leaves grown in Japan - refreshing and smooth with lower levels of caffeine. Green tea is widely known for it's potential cancer-fighting properties, along with improved brain function and encouraging fat loss.
Dandelion Leaf
Yes, dandelion is a weed, but it also has medicinal uses due to high levels of antioxidants and other compounds that help your body rid itself of potentially harmful free radicals.
Oolong Leaf Tea
Oolong Leaf
Oolong is made from the same leaves as green tea, however it is semi-fermented. This retains green tea's sweet and fragrant smell, along with black tea's strong fragrance and mellow flavors.
Pu'erh Leaf Tea
Pu'erh Leaf
Just like Oolong tea, Pu'erh is made from green tea leaves, however it undergoes a different fermentation process from the others. Good quality ripe pu'erh gives out a flavor similar to dried Chines dates, and has been promoted for it's potential weight loss benefits.
Rose Flower
Rose Flower
Rose flowers provide a rosy aroma using naturally dried rosebuds. They provide a high concentration of Vitamin C and have been shown to offer many different health benefits.
Lemongrass is a commonly used ingredient in tea, especially because it smells like lemon, however the taste is milder and sweeter. It is also a good source of several vitamins and minerals and has various medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial.
Sage Leaf
Sage Leaf
Fresh sage is slightly bitter with an earthy, savory, and minty taste and aroma, making it a perfect addition to any tea blend. Like lemongrass, sage also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and has been used to treat various symptoms of indigestion.
Thyme Leaf
Thyme Leaf
Thyme is a very common herb used for culinary purposes. It can used fresh, dried or ground and will add an organic, earthy flavor to your tea, with a subtle hint of mint.
Persimmon Leaf
The persimmon is a red-brown or orange fruit grown on trees (like plums), most often in warm, dry climates. The the vitamin- and mineral-rich leaves from the persimmon tree are a staple in Chinese medicine and have been shown to promote a healthy metabolism along with many other health benefits.

Caffeine Content in Tea

There are a lot of factors that affect the amount of caffeine in the tea in your cup, including, but not limited to:

  • growing regions
  • plant varietal
  • plant age
  • length of growing season
  • field conditions
  • soil nutrients
  • stress from pest infestations
  • length of fermentation
  • ratio of tea > water while brewing
  • water temperature
  • brewing time

Having said this, all tea generally has a much lower caffeine content per cup than black coffee, which typically contains between 150-200 mg per 8 oz cup.

Type of Tea Caffeine Per 8 oz Cup
White Tea 30-55 mg
Green Tea 35-70 mg
Oolong Tea 50-75 mg
Black Tea 60-90 mg


Brooke Davis
Brooke Davis


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