More than 159 million people in the United States drink tea on any given day. In 2019 alone, folks in the US savored over 3.8 billion gallons of this healthy, soothing beverage. If you’re ready to tea party yourself, consider shopping for them online. Buying tea online is convenient, yes, but it also gives you access to teas you usually won’t find in stores.
There are a few things to consider before buying and drinking tea, though. This guide will cover the basics, so read on to learn how to choose which ones will best “tea-tillate” your senses.
Know the Difference Between True Teas and Herbal Teas
True teas come from the leaves of the plant species called Camellia sinensis. These include the most popular black tea, green tea, white tea, and oolong tea. They were originally native to Southeast Asia, but some places in the US now cultivate them too.
By contrast, herbal teas come from dried flowers, fruits, herbs, and spices. Some of these include chamomile, ginger, lavender, and moringa teas.
Do note that even if herbal teas aren’t true teas, they still contain beneficial compounds. The biggest difference is that herbal teas come from non-Camellia sinensis plants.
Factor in Specific Health Benefits
The act alone of drinking tea may already be calming and relaxing. Taking your time to sip away slowly can give you a momentary sense of peace and stress relief. Since it rehydrates you, it can help counter the stressful effects of dehydration.
Do note that dehydration can make you feel more stressed as it makes the body produce more cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, is the primary stress hormone. Experts say that hydrating can boost mood and cognitive functions.
However, since teas contain other nutrients too, they can be a wonderful addition to your diet. Their benefits vary, though, so it’s best to factor in which ones are most important to you.
Benefits of True Teas
True teas are rich in antioxidants, with polyphenols being the most abundant. Polyphenols are organic compounds that may help protect against chronic diseases. Consuming them in moderation may be helpful for the heart, nerves, and weight control.
Teas brewed from Camellia sinensis leaves also contain some amount of energy-boosting caffeine. Their caffeine content is lower than that of coffee, though. In addition, true teas are rich in L-theanine, an antioxidant that may help stimulate the brain.
The polyphenols in true teas, such as theaflavin, may also be helpful for those who want to lose some weight. Researchers say that black tea’s theaflavin effects are greater than green tea’s.
Herbal Tea Benefits
Many herbal teas don’t have any caffeine, which in large amounts can make you jittery. What most of them do instead is deliver calming, even sleep-improving effects.
For example, Chamomile tea appears to boost sleep quality in postpartum women. It may also help relieve depression symptoms.
If you like some kick in your teas, you might want to go with ginger tea. Its flavors and spiciness are mostly from the plant compound gingerol. Gingerol, in turn, is an antioxidant that may help protect against oxidative stress.
Lavender tea may be helpful for digestive woes, such as upset stomach and bloating. Many people also use it to ease nausea, vomiting, and even pain relief for headaches. There are even some who use this plant as a way to prevent hair loss.
Another type of herbal tea that’s growing in popularity is moringa oleifera. According to Pura Moringa, its leaves contain vitamin B6 and C, protein, and iron. They don’t contain caffeine, but their vitamin B6 content may help boost your mood.
Tea Bags vs. Loose-Leaf vs. Powder
You have three options when buying tea online: tea bags, loose-leaf, and powder. The majority are available in the first two forms, while only a few, such as matcha tea, are powder.
Teabags are the most affordable, as they use smaller pieces of the main plant ingredients. Modern tea packing methods helped improve their taste and aroma. However, they can lose their flavor quickly, so if you’re buying tea in bags, go for recently-packed ones.
By contrast, loose leaf teas consist of whole, unbroken leaves (or plant parts in herbal teas). You’ll often find these packed in containers with tight lids. This packaging method helps preserve the leaves’ smell and taste.
Since whole leaves dominate most loose leaf tea products, expect them to cost more. However, their incredible flavors and aroma can outweigh their higher price.
Do note that many types of processed instant tea are also in powdered form. These are different from actual powdered tea; instant tea is a mix of tea, sugar, and milk. By contrast, matcha tea powder comes from actual tea leaves ground into powder.
High-quality tea powder, especially matcha, is quite expensive. Making matcha tea also requires tools like small sieves and bamboo whisks. Still, it’s a great addition to your diet, as it’s rich in antioxidants and may benefit the brain and liver.
Be Mindful of the Caffeine Content
Before buying tea, especially true teas, be sure to check their caffeine content. Having too much of this stimulant in your system can make you not only jittery but nauseous, too. Drinking too much of it late in the day can also affect your sleep.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends taking no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day. Note that each eight-ounce cup of black or green tea can contain 30 to 50 mg of caffeine. That’s only the average estimate, though, as some may contain higher concentrations.
Keep These Tips in Mind When Buying Tea Online
Buying tea online isn’t rocket science, but it pays to know what types of tea to look for and the benefits they may bring. If you want your hot cuppa to deliver mild stimulation, stress relief, and maybe weight loss, go for true teas. On the other hand, consider herbal teas if you’d like to boost your mood while also cutting back on caffeine.
Ready for more refreshing food and beverage ideas? Then check out our other guides for more interesting reads!