A variety of teas contain plant compounds that encourage weight loss. These include green tea, which contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which helps your body break down fat cells.
All traditional teas come from the same plant—Camellia sinensis—but their flavors and properties differ due to processing, geographical location, and variety of the plant. These five types of tea may help you whittle your waistline:
1. Green Tea
Organic Green tea is one of the most well-researched teas, thanks to multiple studies on its ability to aid in weight loss. It also contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may help fight free radicals, the damaging compounds that contribute to aging and numerous health conditions, including heart disease.
The key ingredient in green tea is EGCG, which has been shown to inhibit an enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine. (2) This causes fat cells to break down and release their contents into the bloodstream, where they can be used as energy by other tissues like muscle.
Several observational studies on humans have linked regular tea drinking with lower risks of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even death. (7)
Aim for two to three cups of green tea a day, though you’ll get the most benefits from loose leaf varieties. The more natural, whole-leaf options (especially matcha) contain higher amounts of EGCG than tea bags, which use broken pieces and lower grade leaves. Try sencha green tea for a more traditional flavor and less bitterness.
2. Black Tea
Black tea has been well-studied and offers some great health benefits including lowering risk for heart disease. Black tea is also a good source of caffeine which helps stimulate the central nervous system and boost metabolism.
A recent study found that black tea may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with pre-diabetes. Mice that were given a high-sugar diet with low or high doses of black tea showed significantly lower postprandial (after-meal) glucose levels than mice that received only the high-sugar diet alone.
The phenolic compounds in black tea, such as thearubigins and theaflavins, may increase your fat-burning capabilities by helping your body use its existing stores of fat as energy. Additionally, black tea is a source of tannins which can promote healthy digestion by increasing gut microbes and promoting bile flow.
3. Oolong Tea
Sitting somewhere between green tea and black tea, oolong has some unique properties that may aid in weight loss. Oolong tea is partially oxidized and has a bolder, fruity flavor than its herbaceous green and black counterparts.
According to a study, drinking oolong tea can help speed up your metabolism and boost fat burning. This is because oolong tea is rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which speeds up the breakdown of fatty acids. EGCG also helps prevent the absorption of fat-soluble compounds in your body.
Another key ingredient in oolong tea that may help you lose weight is caffeine, which has been shown to increase energy expenditure (EE) and reduce the absorption of nutrients. A study of 12 volunteers found that those who consumed oolong tea had higher EE levels than those who didn’t drink the beverage.
Some popular oolong teas include Iron Goddess, also known as Bao Zhong or Dragon Robe, which has long wiry leaves with a delicate, floral taste. Another oolong is Dong Ding or Frozen Summit, a tightly rolled high mountain tea grown at 1,000 meters and has a rich, buttery aroma.
4. White Tea
White tea is the least processed of all types of tea and is made from young leaves and buds that are picked before they open, which gives it a light flavor. It also contains less caffeine than black or green tea.
Like other types of tea, white tea is packed with plant-based chemicals called polyphenols, or catechins. These powerful antioxidants fight free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage other cells in the body), a major contributor to diseases like heart disease and weak immune systems.
Catechins, particularly EGCG, help boost metabolism and fat burning. Several studies have shown that drinking white tea can increase daily energy expenditure, and a 2020 review of test-tube studies found that EGCG reduces free-radical damage to bones, which may help prevent osteoporosis. This is a good reason to sip a cup or two a day!
5. Pu’erh Tea
Pu-erh is a tea that can aid in weight loss by curbing your appetite and helping you to consume less calories. It does this by regulating your blood sugar levels so that your body isn’t overproducing glucose in your bloodstream which can lead to weight gain.
Pu’erh is a special type of aged black tea that is fermented in Yunnan, China. This fermentation process is what gives this tea its unique taste, fragrances and functions. It’s also what makes it different from other teas because unlike green or black tea, which need to be consumed fresh for their best qualities, pu-erh improves over time with aging and fermentation.
The tea is made from large-leaf tea trees and can either be roasted or un-roasted. It can also be loose leaf or in the form of a pressed cake. The tea can undergo both “wet storage” (shicang) or dry storage (gan chang), with the teas that are stored in wet environments aging faster than those that are stored in dry conditions. Good quality pressed pu’erh cakes should be free of twigs, extraneous matter and white or dark mold spots on the surface.