Tea is processed from the tender shoots of the plant Camellia sinensis, typically the bud and the first two leaves of the tea plant. ‘Herbal’ teas are usually made from plants other than tea and will not have the same taste or health benefits.
Tea, though it has almost no calories, contains a surprising quantity of nutrients and medicinal ingredients. Among the former are vitamins such as thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, biotin and inositol. Vitamin E is also present in tea. Tea is also rich in potassium although its content of sodium, a related metal associated with vascular disease when consumed in large quantities, is very low. This makes tea ideal for people suffering from high blood pressure. Tea also contains calcium, zinc and manganese.
In addition to these nutrients, tea-drinking promotes dental health because of the fluoride it contains. Fluoride also helps support bone mineralization. The polyphenols found in tea are important anti-oxidants, which scour the blood of ‘free radicals’ that have been linked to cancer and other diseases.