Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water, and it has been a staple of traditional medicine for thousands of years. Today, scientific research highlights the potential health benefits of tea, particularly for heart health. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between tea and heart health, the various types of tea that can be beneficial, and how to incorporate tea into your daily routine.
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Table of Contents
Benefits of Tea for Heart Health
While all teas contain flavonoids and flavanols (specifically flavan-3-ols), some types of tea are more beneficial for heart health than others. Some of these cardiovascular benefits of drinking tea include:
- improving blood lipid levels, including decreasing total cholesterol levels and improving HDL cholesterol level
- decreasing blood pressure
- improving endothelial function and blood flow
- decreasing levels of inflammation
- benefitting the gut microbiome
One of the primary ways in which tea promotes heart health is by improving blood flow and circulation. The flavonoids in tea, including catechins and quercetin, are antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and improve the elasticity of blood vessels (1, 2, 3).
These amazing mechanisms decrease your risk of overall mortality, CVD events, stroke events, and biomarkers of CVD events.
In fact, compared to non-tea drinkers, drinking two or more cups of tea per day can potentially lower your risk of all-cause mortality by up to 13%, lower your risk of CVD by 4%, lower your risk of CVD events by 2%, and lower your risk of stroke by 4% (1, 4).
As you can see, drinking heart healthy tea is a simple and cost-effective way to prevent heart disease!
Tea VS Tisane
There are two broad categories of tea; true teas and tisanes.
True teas are ones that come from two main varieties of the Camellia sinensis plant:
- Camellia sinensis sinensis– the Chinese variety with a smaller-sized leaf, grows well in colder climates
- Camellia sinensis assamica– native to India with a larger-sized leaf, grows well in tropical climates with lower elevation
Examples of true teas include white tea, black tea, green tea, pure Matcha, Pu-erh tea, oolong tea, and yellow tea. The differences between these types are 1) where they are grown, 2) how they are picked, and 3) how they are processed.
For those that are interested, here is a quick overview of the tea processing flow:
Then there are tisanes, which do not come from tea leaves at all. These are water-based infusions using berries, spices, herbs, flowers, roots, bark, or any other part of a plant.
There are health benefits of both true teas and tisanes. Though, the main focus of this article will be on the benefits of true tea for heart health.
Types of Tea for Heart Health
There are several types of heart healthy teas to choose from. Each provides an impressive amount of health-benefitting compounds. Here, I’ll go over some different varieties, describe their flavor profiles, and even give you some highly rated tea recommendations.
Green tea is one of the most studied types of tea, and it is rich in catechins, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
It also contains a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies show that consuming 200-300 mg of EGCG per day can maintain heart and metabolic health. This can be obtained from drinking 5-6 cups of green tea per day (5).
One very important caveat to drinking green tea and some other teas is that it is high in vitamin K. This means if you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin, you may need to refrain from or cut back on how much you are drinking.
Taste/Flavor: A good cup of green tea will be light, fresh, and earthy.
Other names for green tea: Sencha, Gyokuro, Bancha, Tencha, Honicha, Genmaicha, Gunpowder green, and many more!
Highly rated green teas to try: (*as an affiliate, I will earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
Black tea is the most popular type of heart healthy tea here in the Western Hemisphere. It is fermented and black in color due to oxidation. It contains antioxidants, including theaflavins and thearubigins, that have similar beneficial effects to catechins. Drinking two or more cups of black tea daily is linked to a 9-13% decrease in overall mortality.
Taste/Flavor: I consider black tea to be bold, full-bodied, brisk, and earthy.
Other names for black tea: Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Lady Grey, Kenya, Masala Chai
Highly rated black teas to try: (*as an affiliate, I will earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
White tea is also a heart healthy tea. It contains many polyphenols and catechisms, including ECGC.
This type of tea very unique from other teas because it is prepared with the least amount of processing.
Taste/Flavor: White tea is light and slightly sweeter in taste than other teas.
Other names for white tea: Silver Needle, White Peony, Darjeeling White
Highly rated white teas to try: (*as an affiliate, I will earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
Like black tea, oolong is also fermented and has just as many health benefits.
One study on mice that were fed a high-fat diet suggests that drinking oolong tea may help protect against obesity. This is due to the powerful components in oolong tea that modulate lipid metabolism and reshape the gut microbiota (6).
Taste/Flavor: Oolong teas are bright, medium-bodied teas that have earthy yet floral aromas and flavors but can also be described as fruity or woodsy.
Other names for oolong tea: Da Hong Pao, Tieguanyin, Wuyi, and Dong Ding
Highly rated Oolong teas to try: (*as an affiliate, I will earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
And finally, herbal teas are also highly acclaimed when it comes to heart health benefits. Herbal teas like hibiscus and rooibos specifically, are considered heart healthy teas.
Hibiscus tea comes from the hibiscus flower, which is high in phenolic compounds, including anthocyanin, which gives this tea its beautiful red color. Studies show that drinking hibiscus tea reduces high blood pressure by opening up stubborn arteries and improving blood flow (7, 8).
Additionally, research has high praise for rooibos tea. Reports mention its protection against the harmful effects of consuming simple sugars in our diets. You see, simple sugar intake leads to the production of harmful dicarbonyl compounds, which then increases our risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes (9).
The many beneficial components in rooibos tea, including aspalathin, may help prevent metabolic disorders. Though more research needs to be done to make sure no serious herb-drug interactions may occur. Two case studies on rooibos suggest possible liver issues may result for those taking statins or hypoglycemic medications (10).
Highly rated herbal teas to try: (*as an affiliate, I will earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
Best Tea for Heart Health
Some may disagree, but there really is no best tea for heart health. Even tisanes have their own set of cardiometabolic benefits. As mentioned, green tea is the most-researched, however, no matter which of the above teas you choose, you’re sure to receive a slew of antioxidants and other health-benefiting compounds.
I suggest trying more than one of these heart healthy teas to see which flavor you prefer. All of these options are great teas for heart health.
How to Incorporate Tea Into Your Daily Routine
The good news is that incorporating tea into your daily routine is simple and enjoyable. Tea is also a practical means of preventing the onset of cardiovascular disease. Drinking just one cup of tea a day can have a significant impact on heart health.
You can enjoy tea hot or iced, sweetened or unsweetened. Just remember to limit how much sweetener you use and what type of sweetener you are using, as many studies link added sugars and artificial sweeteners to increases in obesity and chronic disease (11, 12).
You can drink tea any time of day; at meal times, at events, at home or work, when dining out, or anytime in between. Herbal and decaffeinated teas can also be a relaxing part of your bedtime routine.
To get the most out of your heart healthy tea, steep it for at least three to five minutes to ensure that the flavonoids are fully extracted. Adding lemon to your tea can also enhance the absorption of flavonoids.
FAQ Regarding Tea for Heart Health
Caffeine may temporarily increase heart rate, which may also increase blood pressure in some heart patients. One recent study, however, does not causally link tea intake to increases in heart issues, including palpitations (13).
Each variety of tea requires a certain water temperature and an individual steeping (brewing) time. Most teas need to steep for three to five minutes. For a helpful guide to appropriate water temperature and steeping time, visit this post from My Tea Vault.
Green and black teas naturally contain about 28-47 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce serving.
Sort of. Your body absorbs the flavonoids in tea regardless of whether or not milk is added. However, this is only when up to a certain amount of dairy is added. Dairy blocks the bioavailability of antioxidants, so to get the most benefits from your tea, add up to 25% milk to your tea or omit it completely.
In conclusion, adding heart healthy teas is a simple and enjoyable way to improve heart health. The flavonoids in tea can help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and even slow the aging process. By incorporating tea into your daily routine, you can enjoy the numerous health benefits that come with this popular beverage. So go ahead, brew yourself a cup, and enjoy some of these amazing teas for heart health!
Want more tips on how to improve heart health?
- 5 Things You Can Do to Support Heart Health NOW
- Low Sugar Beverages Perfect For Those With Diabetes And Heart Disease
How about some heart healthy tea recipes?
- Healthy Green Tea Latte Recipe (Without Matcha)
- Turmeric and Ginger Tea (Recipe for Good Health)
- Oat Milk Macha Latte by Angela Lago, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.