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Tea is good for you, which is one reason it’s hot. Asked why tea is becoming more popular, Jennifer Stolte of Celestial Seasonings has a ready reply.

“There are two likely answers – health and excitement,” she responds in an email.

“Wellness teas always grow in popularity because consumers are looking for natural alternatives to get them through their days,” she adds. “Right now, many people are interested in holistic health and achieving a certain level of everyday wellness. There’s a very positive association between tea and wellness in consumers’ minds, and we think this connection has increased tea consumption overall.”

Green tea is famously healthy. But white tea, said to be the best tea to fight cancer, could be gaining on it.

“The way tea leaves are handled right after the harvest has a significant effect on the levels of flavonoid antioxidants present in the brewed cups,” Stolte types. “Green and white tea are minimally processed and generally have more flavonoids present, while the oxidation of black tea immediately after it is picked can result in a lower level of flavonoid antioxidants.”

Remember, though, it’s all good.

“Any tea made with the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, including black, green and white teas, will naturally contain some level of flavonoid antioxidants,” Stolte says. “These health-supporting molecules can help counteract some of the harmful effects of free radicals in your body.”

The website WebMD.com has lots of praise for tea. All tea, it points out, has caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain in a positive way, promoting alertness.

Green tea, made from steamed leaves, is said to fight a variety of cancers. It could reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as stroke, and it is said to improve cholesterol levels.

Black tea, which includes chai tea, may protect lungs from damage caused by secondhand smoke and reduce the risk of stroke.

And no study is needed to tell us that English tea, with lots of sugar, can fix almost anything.

“If you’ve had a nasty shock, they give it to you,” says Alenka Lawrence, who grew up in London. “I used to show-jump with my horse. Once, I hit my head, and someone rushed up with hot sweet tea.

“That was the thing to give you. Any other nation would give you brandy. In Britain it would be tea.”

– Mary Kunz Goldman