Tea is a beverage that has been popularized and consumed around the world, for centuries or millennia in the case of places like China. It's simple, it's healthy, and it's tasty; what more could you want?
Tea has also been used for a range of different medical treatments throughout history. If you have an ailment – be it anemia, dehydration, erectile dysfunction, heart disease, or virtually anything else – tea has been offered as a potential solution. It's the original herbal medicine.
What about weight? Weight loss teas are a prominent fad in the health and weight loss world, but how much of that is backed in science, and how much of it is just marketing?
The fact is, it's hard to tell. Few studies have been performed to show just how much tea can help burn fat, but the health benefits of tea in general are undeniable.
How Tea Helps You Lose WeightThere are two different ways that tea in general can help you lose weight. The first is the primary, direct action. The second is the secondary benefits.
For primary action, tea is generally filled with healthy nutrients and chemicals called phytonutrients. These plant-based nutrients, primarily catechins, are natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Additionally, tea is filled with polyphenols and other beneficial micronutrients. The longer you steep the tea, the better it is for you, though you have to draw the line somewhere. Steep it too long and it'll get too bitter, and then you'll be tempted to add in sugar, which defeats the benefits of tea entirely.
Most forms of tea, though not all, also include caffeine. Caffeine is dangerous in high quantities, but you don't get high quantities from tea. A small amount of caffeine helps boost your metabolism, enhance your energy levels, and is proven to passively increase the number of calories you burn even outside of exercise. This is why caffeine is generally one of the primary ingredients in weight loss supplements of all kinds.
As far as secondary mechanisms are concerned, drinking tea brings you a bunch of health benefits. When you're healthier, you have more energy, and you feel better and more energetic. This makes it easier to embark on an exercise quest. You'll find it easier to work out, and you'll be able to work out longer and more effectively. Tea also helps keep you hydrated, to make your workouts more effective and your natural daily life more comfortable.
On top of that, tea is light on calories and has no protein or fat to speak of unless you add it yourself. It's basically "empty", save for the catechins and other nutrients. And yet, when you drink tea, you feel a bit more full than you did before. Drinking tea helps satiate cravings, particularly for junk food. On top of that, any time you're drinking tea is time you're not drinking a Starbucks latte or a soda, which are much worse for you.
Pro tip: for the best effect, find a local tea store and get to know the people who work there. They'll be able to help you find the perfect blend for you, and those blends will be much tastier than what you get out of a Lipton box.
Alternatively, if you're aiming specifically for weight loss, look for weight loss teas with enhanced nutrients, or even for supplements that include green tea extract. These concentrated forms of tea will have more caffeine than tea on its own, but they'll also have more beneficial nutrients and effects.
In any case, here are twelve tea varieties you can drink every day for passive and active benefits to weight loss.
1. Green TeaGreen tea is one of the most common forms of tea in the world, and has been consumed for its health benefits for thousands of years. Many other forms of tea, including several on this list, are teas with green tea as a base for the blend. On its own, green tea can help energize your metabolism and encourage your body to burn fat.
Without any other exercise or activity, studies have shown that green tea can help shed the pounds. Drinking 4-5 cups of green tea per day, spread out throughout the day, is the most effective way we know of to gain the benefits of the beverage. Drink a cup with each meal, drink one before any workouts you do, and another any time you feel thirsty.
2. Oolong TeaOolong is a traditional Chinese tea. It's the same exact plant as the green tea plant, but it's processed differently, and thus has both a different taste and a different range of nutrients. Tea leaves are full of enzymes that oxidize to change flavors and nutrients. Green tea is not allowed to oxidize much before it is dried and processed. Oolong is allowed to oxidize somewhat, and black tea is allowed to much more fully oxidize. Oolong tea contains a range of beneficial nutrients, including manganese, niacin, antioxidants, and chemicals like theaflavins and thearubigins.
Make sure you try to source your tea from an organic, ethical source; pesticide contamination is a problem with all tea, so it's a good idea to avoid the factory producers.
3. Mint TeaUnlike green, black, and oolong teas, mint tea is not made with the leaves of the traditional tea plant. Instead, it can be made of one or several different varieties of mint plan. Peppermint, spearmint, and bakha-cha (an Asian wild mint) all have similar flavors and properties.
Mint tea's most prominent benefit is that it helps settle the stomach. It contains menthol, which is a powerful chemical used in some medicines to help clear the head and the digestive system. Stomach troubles can be settled with this tea.
How does this help with weight loss? Well, mint tea settling the stomach works on hunger pangs as well. Drinking a cup of mint tea instead of pulling out the chips and salsa helps lower the number of calories you're taking in, making it easier to lose weight.
4. White TeaWhite tea is back to the same tea plant as green and oolong, but it's almost entirely unprocessed. The leaves are simply plucked, dried in the sun, and packaged for sale. As such, oxidation has destroyed as little of it as possible. White tea is packed with polyphenols and catechins above and beyond other forms of tea.
One of the antioxidants in tea, EGCG, has been shown to have some powerful fat-blocking effects. It's one of the few nutrients we know of that prevents the body from turning calories into fat in the first place. Obviously, this helps you lose weight by minimizing how much weight you put on in the first place.
White tea is best when taken with a meal, because that's when you're packing on the food in the first place. Combine it with a variety meant for stimulating your metabolism before workouts to maximize the benefits of both styles of tea.
5. Rooibos TeaRooibos is a unique tea derived from a plant known as the redbush tea plant, which is grown almost entirely in a small area of South Africa. It has a unique flavor profile you don't get with other teas.
That's not the only thing unique about rooibos tea. Rooibos contains a unique nutrient called aspalathin. This flavinoid is still being studied, but some studies have shown that it helps significantly reduce stress and stress reactions, specifically stress hormones.
What this means is that the stress reactions in your body like hunger and fat storage are reduced. You'll crave snacks less often, you'll store less fat, and you'll be at lower risk of certain diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.
6. Black TeaIf tea is a scale, you have white tea at the top, with no oxidation at all. You then have green tea, with a small amount of oxidation, and oolong, with a higher amount of oxidation. Then, at the bottom, you have black tea. Black tea has the most oxidation of them all, and is almost completely oxidized.
This processing means black tea has a strong, almost coffee-like taste, and it has correspondingly high levels of caffeine and other fat-burning nutrients. Black tea is one of the most well-studied teas, and it has been shown to be more effective than caffeine alone.
7. Pu'er TeaPu'er tea is to take tea even further beyond. If black tea is tea that is oxidized to its limit, pu'er tea is tea that is oxidized and then specially stored and fermented. It can be fermented with either natural processes, or the introduction of specific, controlled microbes.
Pu'er tea has been studied recently and the findings are surprising. It has been shown to have a significant effect on weight loss, an effect that suppresses weight gain, and best of all, it can work on its own. You don't need to couple it with exercise to see it work; it works even with an uneven, irregular and unhealthy diet, so imagine how much more effective it will be when coupled with a healthy diet and exercise plan.
8. MatchaMatcha is a variation of green tea that is produced by covering tea plants as they grow just before harvest, restricting sunlight. This stimulates extra chlorophyll production and makes the tea turn a darker green. This process also boosts amino acid production and other nutrients in the tea itself.
The tea is also processed slightly differently. Stems and veins are removed from the leaves, and the remaining parts of the leaves are ground into a fine powder, which these days can be found in anything from raw packages to chocolate. Matcha is a powerful, relatively new kind of tea, and it has a range of great health benefits like a supercharged green tea. It's definitely one to try.
9. Yerba MateIf you've ever looked at the ingredients in a weight loss product and wondered what "mate" is, look no further. Yerba mate is a kind of tea produced in south America, and it is said to have the strength of coffee in terms of caffeine and powerful flavoring.
Yerba mate contains a variety of antioxidants similar to traditional tea, but with different compounds. In addition to caffeine, for example, mate includes theobromine, a compound also found in chocolate. It is also packed with saponins, which give it some of its bitterness and also help lower cholesterol. Overall, yerba mate is a great tea to try and can have a bunch of benefits for your health and weight.
10. Milk ThistleThistle isn't the kind of herb you normally think of as something to consume. The spiky, hazardous plant is often considered a weed, though it's also the Scottish national emblem, so its benefits have been known for quite some time.
Milk thistle is carefully processed to remove anything dangerous about it, and what you're left with is an herb you can use as a tea on its own, or as part of a blend with a green or black tea or other herbal teas. Thistle is a great tea for health, but not just for weight loss. In particular, it helps promote liver health, which means it's a natural detoxifying product.
11. Ginseng Tea
Ginseng is one of the oldest and most prominent of herbal remedies, so much so that the herb is an emblematic icon used in media to represent herbal medications. It's a root that is harvested after years of slow growth, and there are several different varieties, each with their own range of potential health benefits.
The two biggest compounds in ginseng are both named after it; ginsenosides and gintonin. These are powerful antioxidants and can help with a range of different health issues, including promoting weight loss.
12. DandelionDandelion has been considered a pesky weed in north America for decades, because it disrupts the fine grassy lawns we've tried to cultivate. The ubiquitous plant has, historically, been used for everything from an herbal remedy to the core ingredient in wine.
In tea, dandelion roots, petals, and leaves can all be used. It's a natural diuretic with detox properties, and it's packed with a ton of valuable minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Will it help you lose weight? Science isn't sure, but it's tasty and it goes well as an addition to other herbal blends, so it's certainly not useless.