To honor tea lovers across the nation throughout National Hot Tea Month, the New York-based Tea Council of the USA kicked off its third annual IndividualiTEA Photo Sharing Sweepstakes, offering one winner a chance to win $500 and a year's supply of tea.

Consumers can enter by brewing a cup of black, green, white, dark or oolong tea and share their photo, video or description on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #IndividualiTEA and tag @TeaCouncil.

All true teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, and there are five main types to consume: black, green, white, dark and oolong. Tea contains especially high concentrations of flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds that have antioxidant properties, according to the council. Tea flavonoids often provide bioactive compounds that help to neutralize free radicals, which scientists believe, over time, damage elements in the body, such as genetic material and lipids, and contribute to chronic disease, it adds.

According to the council, the following are proven health benefits of tea:

  • Take Tea to Heart: Studies suggest tea may promote overall heart health.
  • Support Weight Goals: Tea consumption is associated with lower weight and waist circumference. Tea contains no sodium, fat, carbonation or sugar – it is virtually calorie free.
  • Strengthen Memory and Concentration: Bioactive components of tea like L-theanine and EGCG have been shown to enhance brain function Tea is a smart beverage choice for your future health too.
  • Stress Less: Bioactive components L-theanine and catechins like EGCG might aid in anxiety reduction, early research suggests.  Additionally, depending on type, tea contains less than half the caffeine of an equal-sized serving of coffee, but enough to provide the cognitive benefits.

"Just like eating fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, regular tea consumption has been shown to have significant health benefits," says Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Council of the USA, in a statement. "We're excited to encourage a nation of tea drinkers to showcase their IndividualiTEA and embrace National Hot Tea Month timed to the new year. We can't wait to see your tea stories."