In the summer, you might think a morning cup of iced tea is an acceptable, or even essential, way to start your day. But for most of us, tea starts in the evening — usually as a nightcap with a few friends. But tea is so much more than a mild mood booster after a long day. Here’s how a daily cup (or two!) of tea can be good for you, along with the healthy teas you should try.
1. In the summer, it helps to soothe a sore throat.
Sipping tea is a tried-and-true way to soothe a sore throat, says Lee Jacobson, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University and associate chief of staff for adult emergency medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. A study of Australian children with sore throats found that those who drank one cup of tea a day for five days had significantly less sore throats than those who did not. Jacobson recommends that people try rooibos, a black tea from South Africa.
2. A cup of tea can help you stay alert.
One study found that people who drank five cups of tea per day performed significantly better on attention and vigilance tests than those who did not drink tea. (Another study found that it was the teas with flavonoids in them that had the effect.) “If you are on your way to work and your attention is drifting off, it is important to make tea and eat an apple to increase your alertness,” says Jacobson.
3. Tea can lower cholesterol.
That same study found that people with low-cholesterol diets may benefit from drinking five or more cups of tea a day. The flavonoids in tea may act as cholesterol-lowering agents, says Susan Press, PhD, associate professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of The Longevity Diet.
4. It can lower blood pressure.
This claim comes from a 2005 study in the journal Nutrients, but studies like this one are a good reason to drink tea regularly, says Corby Martin, PhD, associate professor of nutrition at Oregon State University and an author of The Tea Lover’s Cookbook.
5. It can increase endurance.
In 2008, a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that drinking four cups of tea a day for one month resulted in a greater increase in lactate production during exercise than a placebo did.
6. It can boost bone strength.
A 2012 study in the journal BMC Medicine showed that a cup of black tea per day for five weeks increased bone mineral density and decreased fracture risk in postmenopausal women. (Another recent study showed that drinking green tea is associated with decreased fracture risk among postmenopausal women.)
The health benefits of tea can be varied and profound, so if you’re looking for a drink that can help improve your health, a cup of tea is probably your best bet.