The Ultimate Guide to the Health Benefits of Tea

Teas of all sorts claim to have numerous health benefits. As it turns out, some do.

Whether you're looking to get better sleep or ease an upset stomach, there's probably a tea out there that claims it's the answer to your woes.

"Tea varieties come in a few major categories that all provide different potential benefits: green, black, white, oolong and herbal. Teas contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that might help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, May Zhu, RDN, LDN, founder of Nutrition Happens, tells

"Drinking tea is another way to help your body stay hydrated, so as long as you're steeping your own tea and being mindful of any added sugars, tea can definitely be a part of any healthy eating pattern."

Is It Good to Drink Tea Every Day?

Drinking tea every day is a good way to support a healthy routine and keep up with your hydration needs. Just avoid overdoing it on the caffeine. If you're particularly sensitive to caffeine, keep track of your intake.

"Our total recommended daily caffeine intake should not exceed 400 milligrams," Zhu says.

1. Green Tea: Best for Energy

Sipping on green tea daily is linked to many health benefits, from reducing inflammation to protecting against disease.
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If you're not a fan of coffee but need some help getting through a midday energy dip, green tea is your best bet. While it doesn't contain as much caffeine as coffee, green tea has even more caffeine than black tea for that much-needed energy boost.

A standard 8-ounce cup of green tea has about 25 to 29 milligrams of caffeine, whereas the same size cup of black coffee contains between 95 to 165 milligrams of caffeine, according to the Mayo Clinic.

And let's not forget about green tea's notable health benefits. "Some research suggests that there's a reduced risk for heart disease in populations where green or black teas are consumed regularly," Zhu says.

For example, a September 2014 review in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that catechins in green tea (and in particularly large quantities in matcha — more on that in a minute) were linked to improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Plus, drinking tea at least three times a week — especially green tea — is linked to a longer and healthier life, a January 2020 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found. The analysis included more than 100,000 people who were followed over seven years and observed that habitual tea consumers had a 22 percent reduced risk of fatal heart disease and stroke and 15 percent decreased risk of death from all causes.

Green tea may give your brain a boost, too. An October 2017 review of 21 studies in Phytomedicine found that the combo of caffeine and a compound called l-theanine in green tea is tied to helping reduce anxiety and improving memory and attention.

And one small study, in the June 2019 issue of Aging, says the tea can protect against age-related cognitive decline, but more research needs to be done in this area.

Best Green Tea Brands

  • Choice Organic Teas Premium Japanese Green Tea ($7.19, Amazon)
  • Yogi Pure Green Tea ($23.04 per pack of 6, Amazon)
  • Newmans Own Organic Green Tea ($9.91, Amazon)

2. Chamomile: Best for Relaxation

The dried flowers of chamomile contain beneficial plant compounds such as terpenoids and flavonoids.
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"Chamomile tea can be a great option for promoting relaxation before bed," Keri Glassman, RD, CDN, says founder and CEO of Nutritious Life, adding that the process of steeping and mindfully sipping can also help you find calm.

Chamomile is free of caffeine and is rich in a bioflavonoid called apigenin. When apigenin binds to specific receptors in the brain, it can cause sedative effects, which may reduce stress and promote sleep.

There isn't enough research to verify how well this sedating effect extends to chamomile tea, but a small June 2017 study in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion showed that chamomile supplements improved sleep quality in older adults in nursing homes. Supplements have a much higher chamomile concentration than tea, and more research is needed on the effect of tea, specifically.

Chamomile tea could potentially improve your overall quality of sleep, according to a February 2016 paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. Researchers found that postnatal women with sleep problems who drank chamomile tea spent more time asleep than lying awake in bed.

Best Chamomile Tea Brands

  • Traditional Medicinals Chamomile Tea ($24 per pack of 6, Amazon)
  • Tazo Calm Chamomile Tea ($17.88 per pack of 6, Amazon)
  • Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Chamomile Herbal Tea ($14.22 per pack of 6, Amazon)

3. Peppermint: Best for Aiding Digestion

Peppermint leaves are available in many grocery stores nationwide and make for a fragrant tea you'll want to sip after a meal.
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If your stomach is upset, peppermint tea should be your go-to.

"Researchers have previously pointed out ingredients like ginger, fennel, peppermint and dandelion may help support digestion," Zhu says.

For those who struggle with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), peppermint may be an effective short-term treatment for related symptoms, according to a July 2014 review published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. After reviewing nine studies of 726 patients, researchers concluded that peppermint oil improved IBS symptoms.

However, this tea shouldn't be used as a long-term treatment, the researchers point out.

Also, if you have acid reflux, ginger or chamomile may be better choices, as peppermint could aggravate that condition, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, CDN, creator of and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table.

Best Peppermint Tea Brands

  • Yogi Purely Peppermint Tea ($23.04 per pack of 6, Amazon)
  • Twinings Pure Peppermint Herbal Tea ($3.12, Amazon)
  • Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Herbal Leaf Tea ($25.86 per pack of 6, Amazon)

4. Ginger Tea: Best for Nausea

Easily make ginger tea at home by slicing a few pieces of fresh ginger into boiling water and allowing it to steep for a few minutes.
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"Aside from helping reduce bloating, ginger tea is a potential solution for a whole range of GI issues, including nausea, indigestion, and diarrhea," Glassman says.

Researchers have long studied ginger's potential as a treatment for conditions such as pregnancy or chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

And although larger and well-controlled studies are still needed, a March 2016 review published in Integrative Medicine Insights suggests ginger could have some benefits when it comes to pregnancy- and chemotherapy-related nausea — but it may not be as effective as medication.

Ginger is also linked to helping stomach aches caused by bloating, although more research is needed to confirm that.

Best Ginger Tea Brands

  • Tazo Organic Spicy Ginger Tea ($35.28 per pack of 6, Amazon)
  • Pukka Three Ginger Tea ($4.88, Amazon)
  • Harney & Sons Ginger Tea ($10.37, Amazon)

5. Matcha Green Tea: Best for Antioxidants

Make matcha at home by sifting one or two teaspoons of the green powder into a cup, adding 2 ounces of almost-boiling water and whisking vigorously.
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This trendy, powdered green tea variety can be used for more than just a pretty Instagram photo. Matcha tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants.

"Matcha green tea powder is made by crushing dried tea leaves into a powder, so it contains up to three times more antioxidants than regular green tea," Zhu says. Antioxidants are substances that can help prevent or delay cell damage, which may help reduce the risks of certain diseases, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Past research has shown that matcha has some of the highest antioxidant levels of all green tea varieties, and perhaps over 100 times more of a class of antioxidants known as catechins, an older September 2003 study in the Journal of Chromatography found.

Like other green teas, matcha contains caffeine, so watch your intake before bed.

Best Matcha Green Tea Brands

  • MatchaDNA Matcha Powder ($27.50, Amazon)
  • Matcha Love Organic Matcha Powder ($14.83, Amazon)
  • Matcha Bar Ceremonial-Grade Matcha Tea Powder ($22.47, Amazon)

6. Black Tea: Best for Bone Health

Black teas such as English Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey are made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant.
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Black tea, a popular gateway drink into the tea world, may also help improve bone health, according to Taub-Dix.

A higher intake of black tea was associated with a lower risk of fracture-related hospitalizations in older women, an August 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports.

Researchers credit this effect to the particular flavonoids found in black tea. For those who are sensitive to caffeine, you can find decaf versions of black tea.

Best Black Tea Brands

  • Bigelow Organic English Breakfast Tea ($20.07, Amazon)
  • Tazo Awake English Breakfast Tea ($16.58, Amazon)
  • Teavana Earl Grey Creme ($21.88, Amazon)

How to Shop for Healthy Tea

Watch out for added sugar. "Most dry tea (loose or bagged) don't contain added sugar — but some do, so be aware of the ingredients, especially when going for a sweeter flavor," Glassman says.

For teas that have chocolate or dried fruit added to their blend for flavor, Glassman says they are a good alternative for satisfying a sweet craving, but be wary of your sugar intake from them. "Don't equate them to a non-sweet green, black or herbal tea, as they are still a source of sugar," she says.

Avoid additives. "It's totally possible to find teas made with just tea leaves and herbs, so other things to be mindful about include artificial colors or stabilizers, such as cornstarch or soy lecithin," Zhu says.

Do some research. She also notes that there's a growing concern for herbal tea ingredients sourced from outside the U.S., where there are fewer regulations around pesticides. "Understand the source of each company's tea before purchasing and, if possible, choose organic as an option, which tends to be free from potentially harmful pesticides," she says.

The Disadvantages of Tea

One possible drawback of drinking certain teas is the caffeine content and its potential effect on your sleep.

Different types of tea will have varying amounts of caffeine, with the exception of herbal teas, like ginger, chamomile and peppermint.

"The amount of time passed while steeping tea can also change the amount of caffeine in it, since the caffeine content will increase the longer you steep it," Zhu says. This can potentially be problematic for people who are sensitive to caffeine, making it difficult for them to fall asleep at night or even worsening anxiety due to its alerting effects.

To help you avoid this problem, Zhu recommends keeping track of your daily caffeine intake and making sure it doesn't exceed 400 milligrams. Keep in mind that caffeine can also be found in coffee, chocolate, sodas and energy drinks.

Another drawback is that some herbal teas can contraindicate certain medications, Zhu says, so it's important to talk to your doctor about which teas are safe for you.

Additional reporting by Bojana Galic.