From a stressful and hectic day at work to a busy and tiring time with the family, there is nothing quite like sitting down, relaxing and recuperating with a good cup of tea.
Even though the old saying that 'the entire British Empire was built on cups of tea' may not be strictly true, there is a lot to be said for one of the world's favourite beverages.
For thousands of years, civilisations in the East believed that tea was vitally important for good health, happiness and indeed wisdom.
From a traditional cup of Earl Grey or a fruity and refreshing herbal tea, here some of the most popular varieties on offer and their reputed health benefits.
Green tea has been widely studied by both western and traditional medical practitioners. Made from leaves that are dried and steamed soon after they have been picked to stop the fermentation process, green tea is full of antioxidants called catechins.
Research undertaken by Cancer research UK indicates that extracts from green tea can stop cancerous cells from growing. However encouraging these early signs area full human study is needed to ascertain the full benefits. Catechins have also been known to increase metabolism and therefore burn fat quicker and prevent arteries from clogging, reducing the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease while simultaneously improving cholesterol levels.
Although the most common variety of tea, which accounts for 75 per cent of global tea consumption, has the highest level of caffeine content, it still has some proven health advantages.
Research shows that people who drink three or more cups daily may cut their risk of stroke by 21 per cent. Black tea also has the potential to protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke.
Made from a variety of dried fruits, seeds and flowers, herbal tea does not contain any caffeine and has been known to help lose weight, stave off colds and assist a good night’s sleep.
The antioxidants found in Chamomile tea may help stunt the growth of cancer and prevent diabetes complications such as loss of vision or kidney damage. Three cups of Hibiscus tea a day may help lower blood pressure for people with hypertension, while peppermint varieties can ease an uneasy stomach.
Made from leaves that are picked when they're young, white tea is uncured and unfermented, creating quite a mild flavour. Even so, certain studies suggest that white tea has a higher level of anticancer properties compared to any other variety.
What's more, an animal study revealed that improved glucose tolerance and a reduction in LDL cholesterol came as a result of consuming white tea.