Tea has been drunk for thousands of years in many forms across the worlds as a drink, a social activity, a ceremony and a medicine. Science is now proving what ancient cultures have known for years about how a brew is good for you, and have identified some significant health benefits in the literature.
Some of the benefits:
- Antioxidants: Black tea and green tea are both high in antioxidants (actually with little difference between the two) and these antioxidants are implicated in the protection against various cancers and heart disease. The research evidence for widespread risk reduction is equivocal, the study sizes are too small to make major conclusions, but it is likely that antioxidants at this dose could well be protective against high cholesterol, cancers and possibly heart disease.
- Weight loss and diabetes: Animal studies have shown increases in metabolic rate in mice fed green tea extract, and there is evidence in human studies of people drinking more than 3 cups a day having increased fat oxidation and weight loss. Most weight loss teas for sale are complete scams, any green or black tea will have this effect. Now the effect is small, and you will not lose appreciable amounts of weight drinking tea alone, but in combination with dietary change and exercise it may well increase your weight loss rate and help keep it off. (and sorry, if you are adding milk and sugar to your tea you will probably negate this effect!) Due to this effect on weight, metabolic rate and fat oxidation there has been some published studies suggesting caffeinated tea may also have a role in reducing abdominal obesity, preventing diabetes and improving insulin resistance.
- Stress and blood pressure: There is clear evidence linking black tea intake to reduced systolic blood pressure over a six month period and also decreased circulating stress hormones. So it's not imaginary, a nice cuppa really does make you feel calm and less stressed!
- Fluid intake : Many people have difficulty drinking enough water - as tea is mainly just that, it makes increasing your hydration rate easy! And tea is negligible in calories :)
- Chemicals: The camellia plants that tea leaves are picked from are very sensitive to environmental pollutants and can absorb aluminium, fluoride and other chemicals in their manufacture. While these are low levels, if it concerns you, make sure you buy organic tea.
- Caffeine: Tea contains caffeine and theophylline which are stimulants and provide some of the health benefits of tea and coffee. The levels of caffeine in a prepared cup of tea are much lower than in coffee, but still can affect sleep for some people. If you are sensitive to caffeine stick to herbal or caffeine free tea, especially in the afternoon.
- Human rights: Globally, perhaps as many as 50 million people are involved in the tea industry in many of the world’s least developed countries. Just like in the coffee and chocolate industries, the rights of farm workers in the tea industry has been eroded as large corporations have industrialised tea production. To avoid exploitation look for the Fairtrade symbol on your tea when you can. Click this link to read more.
- Brew fresh tea for each cup with boiled clean water and let the tea leaves / bag steep for 3-5 minutes depending on the variety. Drink your tea without milk and sugar or if you need a little sweetness, consider honey or a slice of lemon.
- For maximum flavour buy the best quality tea you can afford and consider tea leaves with an infuser or small teapot rather than teabags. Teabags are convenient, but the extra movement of leaves in a pot does give you superior flavour.
- Take the time to relax and make the most of the experience.