With so many different kinds of teas and infusions, you almost need a pocket-sized tea guide to help guide your purchases.
Tea provides such a wide range of benefits depending on the one you choose, but how do you know which types strengthen your immune system and which types prevent tooth decay and Alzheimers?
I decided to head over to DavidsTea for some answers and was overwhelmed by the sheer variety of tea they had on their wall. Asking about each different type would have taken loads of time, which is why I took it upon myself to put together the need-to-knows of the most common tea types, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs the next time you're at your favourite tea shop.
What makes it special: White teas are known to be the most natural type of tea since they're dried right after picking and have gone through the least amount of processing. They also already have some sweetness to them, meaning it gives you a good reason to cut back on adding sugar.
When to drink: It's best to drink white teas like White Earl Grey and Jasmine White in the morning as they don't make your stomach feel uncomfortable.
Drinking it throughout the day helps stop cravings for sweet and unhealthy snacks. It can also be sipped while you're studying as it helps with concentration, alertness, and mood all while improving short term memory!
Storing, steeping and caffeine content: White tea is one of the easiest to store. Just place it in an air tight container, preferably one that doesn't let any light in. When steeping white tea, you should aim for 2-3 minutes at 175-185°F, but just know that if you're looking for some energy, this tea only has 30-55mg of caffeine per 8oz.
Benefits: This type of tea is known to have anti-cancer properties while also having the ability to thin blood, improve arteries, lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system (flu season is here!), prevent bacterial infections, strengthen teeth, and kill bacteria that causes tooth decay (you should probably still brush your teeth though!).
This tea also has a strong flavour and the ability to steep for a long time so you won't need to use a whole lot of leaves if you're steeping loose-leaf.
When to drink: You might know a few common black teas like English Breakfast Black, Earl Grey Black, and Irish breakfast; these are best to drink when you're tired af (@schoolwork, I'm lookin' at you) as it has the highest caffeine content.
Storing, steeping, and caffeine content: Like most teas, black tea should be stored in a container away from light and moisture. However, this container should be opaque, air-tight, and not plastic. When steeping black tea, aim for 3-5 minutes at 212°F, which is right after the water has boiled.
If you're looking for an alternative to coffee, black tea is the way to go as an 8oz cup of black tea has 60-90mg of caffeine, which is comparable to an 8oz cup of coffee which has 90mg of caffeine.
Benefits: Black tea is known to help protect lung damage from second-hand smoke, reduce stroke risk, increase blood flow, maintain blood pressure, and makes breathing easier for asthmatics.
What makes it special: Matcha flavoured foods from pancakes to sorbets have become all the rage, but green tea itself provides a bunch of benefits since the leaves are dried so quickly. This fast drying process keeps more of the organic parts in the leaves and keeps the flavour of the tea mild.
When to drink: Sencha, Matcha, and Jasmine Green are some of the most well-known green teas and they are best to drink one hour after a meal—drinking it immediately after can interfere with iron absorption while your food is digesting.
It can also be sipped while you're studying as it helps improve short term memory, concentration, alertness, and mood while boosting energy.
Storing, steeping and caffeine content: You should know that green tea is to be stored in an air-tight container and in a dark area away from strong odours as it absorbs the scent of its surroundings. When steeping green tea, you should aim for 2-3 minutes at 175°F which is the temperature after boiling water and letting it cool for a couple of minutes.
Keep in mind that if you drink green tea before bed, it has 35-70mg per 8oz which is close to the amount of caffeine in coffee depending on which side of the spectrum your tea is on.
Benefits: This tea is said to help slow the growth of bladder, lung, breast, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers.
Green tea also prevents artery clogging, improves cholesterol, reduces stroke, prevents tooth decay, and reduces the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
What makes it special: Pu-erh tea (pronounced "poo-air") is aged and used throughout Asia because of the health benefits it provides. It has a smooth, earthy taste and normally tastes better and stronger the older it gets.
When to drink: Its best to drink pu-erh tea like Cardamom, Ginger Pu-Erh, and Jasmine Pu-erh one hour after a meal as it helps with excess grease and hard to digest fats.
On the flip side, drinking Pu-Erh before a meal will clear fats and residue causing you to eat more.
Storing, steeping and caffeine content: Pu-erh tea should be stored inside a clay container, sealed cardboard box or odourless paper bag in a cool and dry place. When you're steeping, you should soak it for 30 seconds then steep for 3-5 minutes 195°F if raw or 206°F if half baked.
Caffeine content changes depending on the type of pu-erh tea you purchase, so if you're looking for a higher caffeine content, look for black pu-erh which has 60-70mg per 8oz, otherwise choose a green pu-erh which has 30-40mg per 8oz.
Benefits: Help improve the digestion of foods, removes toxins found in the blood stream, improves the spleen function, lowers cholesterol, improves blood flow and circulation, known to cure hangovers.
What makes it special: Herbal teas are made from the infusion of herbs, spices or plant materials. It can be served hot or cold and is already made with no caffeine whereas in decaf teas, the caffeine has been removed.
Best to drink: Herbal teas like Rooibos and Chamomile should be sipped before bed or after a meal as herbal tea helps with digestion, processing fluids, and bloating. Herbal tea is also great to drink when you already have a headache or feel one coming.
Storing, steeping and caffeine content: Herbal teas should be stored in a cool and dry location such as a cupboard. Whenever you decide to steep it, aim for 6-7 minutes at 212°F or 5-10 minutes if you want to increase the amount of antioxidants and nutrients it releases.
If you need a break from caffeine, or plan to cut it all together (hello to that New Year's resolution that failed the second school restarted), herbal tea is the way to go as these leaves hold 0mg of caffeine.
Benefits: Herbal teas have cancer-fighting properties while also having the ability to help lower cholesterol, lower high blood pressure, regenerate liver tissue, reduce cramps (yes ladies) and gastrointestinal distress, and helps with indigestion and insomnia. So if you need a drink before bed, herbal tea is the way to go.
What makes it special: Made from the same tea leaves as green, white, and black, oolong is processed more than green tea, but less than black tea. This process gives a similar flavour to black tea, but also keeps the freshness of green tea.
Best to drink: Oolong teas like White Peach or Formosa, to name a couple, are best to drink before lunch or dinner as this type of tea helps to boost metabolism.
Storing, steeping and caffeine content: Oolong tea should be stored in an air-tight container away from heat, light and strong odours. When you're ready to steep it, aim for 2-4 minutes at 195°F (which is the temperature of water after it has been boiled a cooled for a couple of minutes).
If you're looking to be waken up, oolong is just below black tea in terms of caffeine content and it has 50-75mg per 8oz which is quite close to the amount in an 8oz cup of coffee, again depending on which side of the spectrum you're on.
Benefits: Oolong tea is known for lowering cholesterol, keeping blood sugar levels stable, helping with weight loss, turning fat into energy, preventing allergies, boosting the radiance of skin (who doesn't want that), and improving mental alertness (I admit, my brain has not always been fully awake while listening to long lectures)
What makes it special: Mate (pronounced "mah-tay") branches are dried in a wood fire before the leaves are cut. Depending on the type of Mate tea purchased, its flavours can range from grassy to roasted.
Best to drink: There's no concrete answer to the best time of day to drink Mate tea, and there's no limit to how much you can drink a day until it starts to have negative affects. In places like Argentina and Uruguay, Mate teas like Yerba and Lemon are the national tea and much of the population drinks 3 litres a day.
Storing, steeping and caffeine content: It's best to store mate tea in a air-tight container placed in a dark and dry place. Even just keeping the unopened package in a cupboard should work perfectly fine, but when you decide to steep it, aim for 3-6 minutes with water that has been boiled then cooled for 1 minute so it sits around 203°F.
Like all teas, mate tea varies in caffeine content, but most light to moderate mate teas contain 78mg of caffeine in per 8oz, which is quite similar to the caffeine content in coffee.
Benefits: Mate tea is known to be high in potassium, magnesium, manganese and vitamin C, while also having the ability to enhance memory, mood, and alertness which is great to consume while at school or while studying.
You may seek out a different tea for every occasion, whether it be while heading to class, sipping while you study, commuting to work, or just passing your favourite tea shop. The only difference now is that you know which one to buy! And if you've been procrastinating those readings, maybe procrastinate a little further and go steep some green, white or mate tea.