Tea – Drink to good health

Feb 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Health

Did u know that TEA is one of the best drinks you can have? Drunken cold or warm, coloured green, black or white it is proven to be one of the healthiest drinks you can have.

Considering the amount of tea drunk around the world especially here in Sri Lanka every day, the news that the drink can be good for you is welcome indeed!

Tea is made from the plant Camellia sinensis and there are at least about 6 varieties of tea  whiteyellowgreenoolongblack and pu-erh of which the most commonly found on the market are white, green, oolong and black. Important noting that herbal teas are not actually from tea leaves but a blend of herbs and spices. The leaves for black tea are fully oxidized while those for green teas are lightly steamed before being dried. Ceylon White tea can fetch much higher prices than black tea from the area. To those who haven’t heard of white tea it is described as having a delicate very light liquoring with notes of pine & honey and a golden coppery infusion. Important noting that herbal teas are not actually from tea leaves but a blend of herbs and spices.

Historically, tea has been served as a part of various ceremonies and has been used to stay alert during long meditations. A legend in India describes the story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, who tore off his eyelids in frustration at his inability to stay awake during meditation while journeying through China. A tea plant is said to have sprouted from the spot where his eyelids fell, providing him with the ability to stay awake, meditate, and reach enlightenment. Turkish traders reportedly introduced tea to Western cultures in the 6th Century.

A tea plant was brought to Ceylon by the British from China and was planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya for non commercial purposes in the 1824 and in 1867 tea was first grown commercially on 19acres at Loolecondra by James Taylor and since then how Sri Lanka became one of the biggest exporters of tea  producing the best of it to the world, which is well known as Ceylon tea is a story by itself. 

There are many proven benefits of tea and mostly of green tea as vast majority of studies have been of green tea. Green tea has been claimed to be helpful for atherosclerosisLDL cholesterolcancerinflammatory bowel diseasediabetesliver diseaseweight lossneurodegenerative diseases, and even halitosis . In hot weather, it seems refreshing to have a cup of tea as it raises your body temperature and momentarily cause an increase in perspiration cooling your skin.

Article in Wikipedia claims following as benefits of drinking tea:

  • Anti cancer properties – An article in New Scientist magazine mentions that numerous studies suggest that green tea protects against a range of cancers, including lung, prostate and breast cancer attributed towards the antioxidant present in it which is known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) .Antioxidants prevent the oxidation that damages DNA and turns normal cells cancerous and those  present in tea are called as flavanoids and catechins are one kind of flavanoid and are categorized as tannins by doctors in general. It should not be mistaken with tannic acid as tea extracts have been reported to contain no tannic acid. EGCG levels are high in green tea.

Several case control studies suggest an inverse relation between green tea consumption and gastric cancer. Further evaluation is needed to assess the role of green tea and gastric cancer reduction. A study at Taiwan‘sChung Shan Medical University found that people who drank at least one cup of green tea per day were five times less likely to develop lung cancer than those who did not.

Studies show that 150 milligrams of flavanoids – the amount in an average cup of tea – produced immediate health effects on the heart, while 500 milligrams – or roughly three-and-a-half cups of tea – produced a more sustained effect.

  • Increases metabolic rate
  • Possible anti-diabetes effect drinking at least three cups of tea a day is linked with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new Dutch study published
  • Boosts mental alertness – amino acid L-theanine, found almost exclusively in the tea plant affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and increases alpha brain-wave activity. The result is a calmer, yet more alert, state of mind.
  • Boosts immune system
  • Lowers chances of cognitive impairment
  • Lowers stress hormone levels - 4 cups of black tea daily for 6 weeks
  • Effects on HIV
  • Effects on inflammatory bowel disease
  • Effects on bad breath
  • Iron overload disorders
  • Effects associated with caffeine - positive effects of caffeine consumption has been linked with greater athletic performance, healthy weight loss, reduction in duration and severity of headaches and is effective in treating the symptoms of asthma.

Caffeine content in tea is half to one third as much caffeine content in coffee when you compare cup to cup and black tea has the most content out of the teas. Extensive research shows that up to 300 milligrams of caffeine (about eight cups of tea) is not a health risk Drinking four cups of tea is rehydrating unless the amount of tea consumed at one sitting contains more than 250mg of caffeine (the equivalent of five cups of tea) which will cause diuresis. However in dry form, coffee actually has less than tea in dry form.  Next time you brew that pot of coffee, consider how much less your brewed cup of tea will have.  Unless of course you consume your tea dry. It is also important noting here that the amount of caffeine in tea depends on a number of things,  the variety of tea leaf, where it is grown, size and cut of the tea leaf, and how you brew or steep as well as how long. Studies from the Caffeine Institute also show that caffeine levels can vary depending on the location of the tea leaf on the plant.

  • Effects on obstructive sleep apnea related brain deficits.
  • Effects on bacterial and fungal infections white tea more than green tea
  • Anti-venom effects melanin extracted from black tea (MEBT)
  • Stroke Research presented at the International Stroke Conference in February 2009 found that drinking three or more cups of tea per day can reduce the risk of suffering a stroke by as much as 21%. The research, conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), found that drinking green and black varieties of teas has a significant impact on the risk of stroke.
  • Cardiovascular health Research published in April 2009 by the University of L’Aquila and funded by the Unilever-owned Lipton Institute of Tea suggests that drinking just one cup of regular, black tea per day may help to protect against cardiovascular disease. The research showed that black tea consumption does – depending on dose – improve blood vessel reactivity, reduce both blood pressure and arterial stiffness, indicating a notably better cardiovascular health profile.
  • Anogenital warts
  • Antidepressant properties

Benefits of tea are found to be increasing as more research is being done on tea.

  • Bone – recent research is now suggesting that drinking tea can actually have a positive effect on bones
  • Fluoride is known to protect teeth from dental caries.  Tea contains fluoride, which has a well-established link to dental health. Studies have shown that tea can provide up to 70% of the fluoride you need. It’s also thought that antioxidants in tea may help inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause plaque.

Well the list is a long one even though many are yet to be proven with time the list will undoubtedly be longer.

However there are drawbacks and as the saying goes too much of anything is good for nothing.

  • Carcinogens in tea bags – epichlorohydrin, in the casing of some tea bags are carcinogenic. The problem can be avoided by using loose-leaf tea or tea bags which do not use the coating.
  • Effects of fluoride Compounds found in black tea leaves fight cavities and can reduce plaque
  • Effects associated with caffeine mostly insomnia and nervousness
  • Oxalates –too much of oxalates can cause damage to the kidneys as well as increasing the risk of kidney stone formation and taking up calcium. However it is important to note that the bioavailability of oxalate in tea is low and for effects to develop large amounts of tea has to be drunk.
  • Tannin –   may increase one’s risk of developing oesophageal cancer but this again is controversial as some studies show that drinking tea reduces the risk of oesophageal cancer.
  • Drinking tea very hot or hot is linked with oesophageal cancer. A study published in the advance online edition of BMJ says that “It’s Not the Tea; It’s the Temperature — Scalding Hot Liquid Could Injure Cells in Esophagus”. Knowing this will be helpful to Sri Lankans as we are used to having tea very hot!

  • Can stain teeth therefore have tea in one or two sittings rather than sipping it throughout the day. And brush after drinking tea. If this is a problem to you shift to green tea or add milk to your black tea.

A 1984 study concluded that “tea is a potent stimulant of gastric acid, and this can be reduced by adding milk and sugar.

The effects of adding,

  • Milk - Tea without milk and sugar has virtually no calories. A study at the Charité Hospital of the Berlin Universities showed that adding milk to tea will block the normal, healthful effects that tea has in protecting against cardiovascular disease. This occurs because casein from the milk binds to the molecules in tea that cause the arteries to relax, especially EGCG. Milk may also block tea’s effect on other things, such as cancer. However some studies have found little effect or no effect on the antioxidant levels after adding milk. A 1984 study concluded that tea is a potent stimulant of gastric acid, and this can be reduced by adding milk and sugar.

Plant-based “milks”, such as soy milk do not contain casein and are not known to have similar effects on tea.

  • Citrus -Drinking tea, particularly green tea, with citrus such as lemon juice is common. Studies have found that adding citrus to the tea lowers the pH in the small intestine and causes more of the catechins to be absorbed.

According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch tea provides a few tips to get the most out of tea-drinking:

  • Drinking a cup of tea a few times a day to absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day.
  • Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins.
  • The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds.
  • Tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding lemon or milk or drinking tea between meals will counteract this problem.
  • Tanin in tea prevents absorption of iron and proteins therefore you should not take iron tablets along with tea it is advised that those who have a poor iron status or are at risk of iron deficiency should avoid drinking tea with meals, and instead to wait one hour after the end of a meal before enjoying a cup of tea. Those not at risk of iron deficiency can enjoy drinking tea at any time of the day

It is important to know how to make a cup of tea to get the best taste and maximum health benefits.

Many people don’t know that different kinds of teas — from black to green to herbal — require different preparation methods

To properly steep a tea bag you need hot water. Dip the tea bag in the hot water letting it sit for a few seconds at a time then lift it back out of the hot water.

When boiling water for tea, always use cold water and bring to a boil; then, let it set for 30 to 60 seconds to allow it to cool so it does not cook the tea leaves this would help to steep tea to get the most out of it. If tea is steeped too long it becomes bitter.

To all the ladies out there looking out for beauty tips :

  • Don’t toss your morning tea bag, put them in a plastic baggy in the refrigerator and use them on your eyes to relieve puffiness or freshen them up after a late night.
  • After washing your face use a cool tea rinse to help with acne.  Tea has great astringent properties.

Have a cup of tea and boost your taste buds as well as your well being.

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9 Comments to “Tea – Drink to good health”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by lankalife: New post: Tea – Drink to good health http://www.lankalife.com/health/tea-drink-to-good-health/ #featured #health…

  2. Puwalani says:

    A cup of tea not only boosts your mental alertness it also boosts your memory, in a article published in BBC http://digg.com/d34Wuz says that this may lead to the development of a new treatment for Alzheimer ‘s disease

  3. Shishir says:

    It’s a very good compilation. You have given very precise and significant information about tea. After reading this article I almost quit drinking coffee and increased the doses of tea!

    Pl mention the optimal amount of tea that should be consumed per day.

    Also I would like to add that black tea is a source of caffeine, a methylxanthine that stimulates the central nervous system, relaxes smooth muscle in the airways to the lungs stimulates the heart, and acts on the kidney as a diuretic (increasing urine).
    It is found that green tea and black tea are able to protect against nitric oxide (NO) toxicity in several ways. Both green tea and black tea scavenge NO and peroxynitrite, inhibit the excessive production of NO by the inducible form of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and suppress the LPS-mediated induction of iNOS. The NO(*) scavenging activity of tea was less than that of red wine.

    I just wonder that presence of caffeine in tea is the only source of getting addicted to it or there is something else involved…….what do u think Puwalani???

  4. Shishir says:

    Very well done.
    Pl recommend the amount of tea that should be consumed per day.
    It is found that green tea and black tea are able to protect against nitric oxide (NO) toxicity in several ways. Black tea is a source of caffeine, a methylxanthine that stimulates the central nervous system, relaxes smooth muscle in the airways to the lungs (bronchioles), stimulates the heart, and acts on the kidney as a diuretic (increasing urine

  5. puwalani says:

    Thank you Shishir for sharing more information on tea. Im glad to hear that you have increased the amount of tea you consume and reduced on the consumption of coffee.

    As for the optimal amount of tea there is no clear cut amount mentioned, however as research shows you need to consume about 3-4 cups of tea per day to get the benefits mentioned above but some say that even one cup a day gives good effects. It is important to note that more than 6-8 cups a day can be harmful to your body as you will be taking in more caffeine. What I recommend is to have about 3-4 cups of tea per day.

    Regarding tea addiction it is due to the caffeine content in tea. Caffeine is an addictive drug!

    Like you have mentioned diuresis is again due to the caffeine content in tea. A study has shown that tea does not have a diuretic effect unless the amount of tea consumed at one sitting contains more than 250–300 mg of caffeine, equivalent to between 5 and 6 cups of tea.

  6. […] Alzheimer’s disease. This action is mainly due to the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which is present in high amounts in green tea. The research article in Webmed says that EGCG […]

  7. Kidney Stone is a deadly disease specially if it has not been checked regularly.,,~

  8. Ava Green says:

    kidney stones maybe difficult to remove specially if they are already big and hardened`,;

  9. i am staying away from high sodium diets cause it can cause kidney stones and other bad effects ,.:

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