The English have a long-standing tradition of tea and our country itself is rooted in it. Boston Tea Party, anyone? Beyond the wisdom and peace it offers, tea is a healthy option with a variety of flavors and benefits to choose from.

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Green tea is a health benefit superstar, offering multiple antioxidants to keep you on your toes everyday. It’s known to have cancer-fighting antioxidants and can help protect against clogged arteries.  The brew is also great for burning fat and giving your metabolism a head start. Green tea is a great go-to if you’re feeling a little bit stressed. Green tea should be your midterm and finals week BFF.

Black tea is a loaded competitor to all caffeinated beverages—complete with around 40 milligrams of caffeine and health benefits, a mug of this will keep you wide awake all day. Scientists love black tea for its ability to lower cholesterol and ability to lower the risk of stroke.

Echinacea tea is your friend when all the girls on your floor are getting sick. This tea is recommended when avoiding, fighting or recovering from a common cold. Echinacea is often paired with teas that have sleeping/soothing purposes to combine healing with often much-needed rest.

White tea is a lighter tea option. There is only a small amount of caffeine, but the antioxidants that help with stress and skin are abundant. It reduces stress and lacks the toxins that coffee and other caffeinated beverages have that cause skin breakouts. This is a good Saturday morning lounging tea; nothing too strong, but still rich in flavor and benefits.

Why all the tea talk? Let’s look at the other drinks we all reach for first…

Soda’s main issue is in the extreme amount of sugar each can or bottle contains. Even if you are drinking diet, the fake sugar chemicals have negative health effects if consumed regularly. The serving sizes aren’t always adhered to, advancing the amounts of sugar. Think of a bottle of soda people drink in one sitting—those are almost always two servings being consumed. The phosphates in soda can lead to muscle loss, kidney failure and early aging. Of course, this is all if you drink 2-3 cans per day, but in the long run each can adds up.

Coffee. While coffee is one of my best friends, it’s actually more of a frenemy. Coffee has been associated with mild increases in cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can also increase anxiety levels and throw off sleep patterns if your addiction goes a little too far. The toxins in the amount of caffeine can also stress out your skin. Try to limit yourself to just a cup daily or as needed—these effects are increased the more you consume it.

As the semester continues in full swing, consider trying a cup of tea to help improve your health routine. Tea antioxidants are there for your benefit—and tea is often cheaper than soda and coffee! Starbucks and Teavana are great places to learn more about tea types and get a taste test. Tea can be your go-to through the seasons—don’t forget that iced tea can be healthy, too! Just try to steer clear from the sugary sweet tea except for special occasions.

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