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The health perks of drinking tea

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When we wrote on the virtues of coffee, we heard from dozens of tea-drinking readers who wondered if their beverage of choice came with health perks too.

Why it matters: It turns out tea — all types of it — is great for you, with benefits that touch everything from your brain to your gut to your immune system.

Your brain: L-theanine, which is found in green tea and oolong tea, has been linked to lower a risk of developing cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Chamomile tea is an effective natural enemy of anxiety.Your muscles: Chamomile tea also relaxes sore muscles and helps you sleep.Your immune system: White tea is chock-full of antioxidants that have been linked to lower cancer risk. Black tea has all-around immune benefits too.Your teeth: White tea also has fluoride for your dental health — but black tea can stain your teeth.Your gut: Hibiscus tea can curb cravings. Peppermint tea fights irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. And rooibos tea can boost your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol, the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school notes.

And the perks don’t come from drinking alone. You can press steamed and cooled black tea on your cuts and bruises to reduce swelling and relieve pain, per UPenn.

But, but, but: Just like with coffee, watch how you drink tea. Adding cream and sugar and syrups to make tea lattes can wipe away the natural benefits — and add tons of calories.

And don’t fall for the slew of “detox” or “weight loss” teas that are peddled on Instagram and Facebook.

The bottom line: Whether you start your day with coffee or tea, drink up and reap the benefits.