When I was a little girl, my mum and I would sit on our living room couch and talk about life over tea. It's still something we do to this very day. Not only does tea bring me fond memories, it gives me a little bit of calm when I need it. After an anxiety-inducing day or to start my mornings off right, I always heat my kettle. Something about freshly brewed tea restores me and brings me comfort. What I didn't know is that this warm cup of comfort is simultaneously shedding fat cells, too.
According to a 2018 research review, green, both black and green tea may be active in aiding weight loss. If it's hard for you to believe in this easy approach to shedding pounds, we reached out to three registered nutritionists we trust to prove it. But keep in mind that you need to be careful when using tea for weight loss—stick to natural teas recommended by experts and avoid sketchy "weight loss" teas you may see advertised on social media, or teas that include laxatives, which can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor before starting any new weight loss program.
Get your kettle ready and keep scrolling for the best teas to enhance weight loss.
"Green tea, well known for its antioxidant powers, helps with weight loss through thermogenesis, a process that burns fat in the body," says Brooke Alpert, registered dietitian and author of The Diet Detox.
Jonathan Valdez, registered dietitian and owner of Genki Nutrition, agrees. "The catechins in green tea promote fat loss by increasing energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and decreased lipid absorption by the intestine. Valdez believes that even though tea can be used as a fat burner, this shouldn’t promote excess caloric intake. "In the end, over-consumption will trump this process and lead to weight gain. Drinking these teas should be used as more of a complement to weight loss with current habits of decreasing calories and physical activity. Bottom line, tea shouldn’t be relied on as a source of burning calories versus cutting calories and physical activity."
Be sure to stick with healthy, natural teas and combine them with healthy eating and an exercise regimen.
"To a lesser degree, black tea has been studied and appears to work more in the intestine by preventing the fat absorption versus green tea. Both teas play a role in microbial gut health leading to an anti-obese environment," explains Valdez. "Overall, whether it be green tea, black tea, white tea, or lemon tea, they all have zero calories and provide hydration, which can be an opportunity to assist with weight loss versus consuming sugary beverages or alcohol. If you want a little antioxidant water, tea is a nice choice and if you can't tolerate coffee, tea is a perfect substitute."
This Chinese black tea is fermented, giving it an extra boost as far as health benefits are concerned. It has been suggested that pu-erh tea can "favorably modify glucose, insulin and blood lipids," according to one study that also showed a "slight reduction in body weight and BMI." The results were more pronounced in male subjects, so it may be a less effective option for women. Still, fermented foods encourage healthy bacteria in the gut, which is good news for anyone regardless of weight loss goals.
White tea is also a part of the weight loss-aiding family. "White tea, green tea, and black tea all contain some caffeine and antioxidants called catechins. When consumed together, they can help promote weight loss," confirms Alpert.
Nutrition coach Dana Kofsky of Wellness Styled is on the same accord when it comes to white tea: "White tea has the highest amounts of antioxidants of any tea," says Kofsky. "It boosts lipolysis, which helps the breakdown of fat and blocks something called adipogenesis from being formed, which helps prevent the storage of new fat cells."
Alpert loves to recommend dandelion tea to her clients when they start their weight loss programs for two reasons: "One, it’s a calorie-free beverage that helps them meet their fluid needs," says Alpert. "Second and more importantly, it’s a natural diuretic, which helps them lose extra water weight and motivates additional weight loss."
"Peppermint tea is a natural appetite suppressant," explains Kofsky. "It's also really good to have at night instead of dessert because it's naturally sweeter, helps with digestion, and can help you sleep." Mint teas can also be soothing on the stomach and may help alleviate bloating or discomfort caused by gas and indigestion. Even if it isn't actively helping you shed a few pounds, a cup of mint tea after a big meal may make you feel slimmer.
Ginger tea is one of our go-to's for an upset stomach because it soothes nausea and pain from indigestion. It has also been found to fight inflammation, which can lead to bloating. While it may be more of a temporary fix rather than a long-term weight loss solution, ginger tea is good for you and could be a healthy way to quickly cut down on belly bloat. If you know you'll be eating something really filling, brew a cup right before or after your meal.
"Oolong tea is filled with antioxidants, which can help boost the metabolism," says Kofsky. "The antioxidants found in oolong tea can help burn fat more efficiently and more quickly." One study found that 70 percent of the 102 participants experienced some weight loss and fat loss after consuming eight grams of oolong tea daily for six weeks. While oolong is caffeinated, it contains less than black tea or coffee, so it could be a good morning option if too much caffeine makes you jittery.
"Roobios tea is naturally on the sweeter side, so you can drink it without anything added to it and still enjoy the taste," Kofsky recommends. "It contains aspalathin, which helps reduce your stress hormones that can trigger hunger." This is a great option if you're trying to cut back on using milk and sugar in your tea, as it has a similar taste all on its own.
Goji Berry Tea
Another option, especially if you love the flavor of fruity teas, is goji berry. These berries are a potent antioxidant and can be consumed in a variety of different ways, including raw or as an herbal tea. Prepare your own at home using fresh goji berries, or pick up a store-bought tea like Hyleys Natural Goji Berry with Green Tea ($7). A study found goji berry to be especially effective at cutting down on abdominal fat.
Rothenberg DO, Zhou C, Zhang L. A review on the weight-loss effects of oxidized tea polyphenols. Molecules. 2018; 23(5):1176.