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Students should drink tea this fall and reap the surprising health benefits.

As the trees along Carrier Drive begin to change color and students wear their favorite sweaters to study on the Quad, it’s clear that chilly weather has found its way to Harrisonburg once again.

Along with brisk autumn days comes the inevitable promise of cold and flu season to JMU.

According to NPR, one in four college students gets the flu each year. The latter end of the semester is often accompanied by coughing students and the sound of sniffles. However, cold weather and long hours of studying aren’t the only threat to students’ health this year. This winter, scientists expect another wave of coronavirus cases, which may already be underway.

Now more than ever, Dukes need to take caution and practice self-care. Surprisingly, one way to do this is by drinking tea. Various kinds of tea have different positive impacts on people’s health, but one thing is for sure — the health benefits that come from it are powerful, both during flu season and in the long haul.

White tea

White tea is high in antioxidants. This means it can be helpful in combating free radicals, the cells responsible for some cancer and heart disease. It’s the least processed kind of tea, and it holds a light, delicate flavor. It could also be good for strengthening teeth and fighting plaque because it has high levels of fluoride.

Low in caffeine, white tea may be the perfect beverage for those who want to avoid or limit their caffeine consumption. It could also be had at night to keep one slightly more alert while studying without inhibiting sleep.

Green tea

The healthiest, most helpful choice for many may be green tea. Iced or hot, green tea is rich in flavonoids, which can benefit heart health by reducing blood clots and bad cholesterol. Green tea is also largely anti-inflammatory, meaning it fights damage done by inflammatory foods like meat and dairy and can help make one’s skin clear and radiant.

Matcha, a form of green tea powder made from bushes grown in the shade, is the only type of tea in which the leaves are actually ingested. Because of this, matcha can contain up to 10 times the benefits of a regular cup of green tea.

Green tea could be considered in the middle of the caffeine scale. With more caffeine than white tea, it can give one an energy boost, but it doesn’t contain as much as coffee. However, there’s a special amino acid found in green tea that makes the drinker feel milder and creates a less jittery buzz than coffee. For Dukes who struggle with anxiety, especially when they drink coffee, green tea might be a better choice.

Black tea

The best tea for immune health, and therefore for flu season, is black tea. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, flavonoids also support the immune system. A strong immune system guards against the cold, flu and coronavirus germs that’ll soon plague campus once again.

Among the most popular black teas are English breakfast, earl grey and chai tea, all of which are delicious when augmented with a little bit of honey or milk. Black tea is highly caffeinated, almost to the point of a cup of coffee, so it may be the perfect drink to start an early morning or fuel a late-night study spree.

Herbal tea

All herbal teas are caffeine-free. Because of this, many are often used to calm anxiety, and different kinds hold various healing properties.

Rooibos tea improves circulation and blood pressure and benefits hair and skin, while peppermint tea is widely known for its ability to soothe an upset stomach and relieve headaches.

Chamomile tea is often utilized to ease muscle spasms, improve sleep and reduce stress. Meanwhile, ginger tea is a powerful, natural antibiotic and can aid those suffering with nausea, vertigo or indigestion.

One can drink a relaxing, hot cup of herbal tea to calm nerves, soothe a stomachache or help them fall asleep at night.

Exceptions

While the health benefits of tea are undeniably exceptional, there are a few exceptions. Bubble teas and tea lattes from places like Starbucks are often loaded with sugar and calories and have nearly zero nutritional value.

Similarly, detox and weight loss teas are often loaded with laxatives to help people shed a few pounds, but they don’t have the rich benefits of a regular cup of tea.

As the temperature gradually decreases and icy, biting winds are soon to breeze through Harrisonburg once again, it’s important to think of one’s health. Plus, a steaming hot tea can kill bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms living in one’s throat and could potentially fend off the various illnesses that’ll soon make their way through JMU.

Next time Dukes order from the Starbucks in the libraries or their favorite local coffee shop, they should consider ordering a healthy, calming cup of tea instead of a sugary beverage.

Charlotte Matherly is a junior media arts and design major. Contact Charlotte at mathercg@dukes.jmu.edu.