Something everyone wants to know or thinks they know is the health benefits of tea. Let’s see if your right, as I have compiled a go-to guide of my top 8 medicinal properties that all tea has no matter the type contains. However, this only includes those from the tea plant, not tisanes (herbal teas).
The medicinal properties associated with tea, as well as the low caffeine levels, are not supported by modern scientific studies. This is due to the fact that the tea plant grows in so many regions and can be processed in so many different ways, tests on one tea do not prove the effects of all tea. Even individuals brewing technique will change the chemical compounds infused, and their rate of absorption. It is premature to make the call on relative antioxidant counts, because of the number of contradictory studies and the lack of a long-term study with control groups.
However, that does not mean that tea doesn’t have solid health benefits. In fact, the stimulating, antibacterial and diuretic properties of tea have been known for centuries. Although, the true benefits that tea possess are only recently coming to light.
During infusion, some chemical components, such as vitamin C, are destroyed, whereas others are more easily dissolved into the liquid. Many of the bioactive compounds in the tea leaves still do make it into the final drink, which contains large amounts of important nutrients. Roughly a cup of tea is composed of several hundred active substances.
While tea leaves contain the components found in every living organism and those characteristic of plant species, it is the presence of polyphenols and alkaloids that gives an infusion of tea leaves such astonishing properties. Each leaf is loaded with polyphenols, such as flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants. Polyphenols are a combination of several groups of phenols that make up a family of organic molecules present throughout the plant kingdom. In tea, these phenols are found in the catechins, of which tannins are the main component. These polyphenols give tea its astringency, strength and thickness.
1. Increases euphoria and focus.
Interestingly an astringent herb or substance has the same characteristics as a sour substance, but no sour taste. It can stabilise the essential substances of the body and prevent the leakage of them in pathological conditions, such as illness. This combined with Tannins astringent property that makes living tissues contract allows an increase in blood pressure and whilst preventing any tears in the blood vessels similar to adrenaline without the consequences. Allowing you to focus but also experience a minute adrenaline rush.
2. Prevention of premature age-related changes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dementia.
Oxidative stress occurs when a pair of oxygen atoms split apart becoming free radicals. I know chemistry, but these free radicals are connected to various disorders and ageing. Free radicals do occur naturally in the body to a limited to an extent as it is a byproduct of ageing nonetheless it can be exaggerated by an excess of smoking, alcohol, fried food and exposure to toxic chemicals.
Phenols in the tea are antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. Thereby preventing and to a limited extent reversing the disorders and ageing.
3. Prevents the development of cancerous tumours.
Cancerous tumours occur as a result of uncontrolled cell reproduction. And while this may seem far-fetched but tea prevents the development of metastatic growth, the spread of cancerous cells. Mainly due to the high quantities of polyphenols present in the leaves. The science behind it suggests that the flavonoids inhibit several key enzymes that regulate cell reproduction and induce cell death. Thereby, preventing cancerous tumours from occurring.
4. Caffeine present in tea has longer lasting effects than coffee.
Oddly and vastly different to coffee the caffeine in tea actually combines with tannins which attenuate and stabilises the caffeine effects on the body. Therefore, preventing the caffeine being release rapidly into your bloodstream. For many, the effects of caffeine in tea are much milder and more harmonious with their metabolism than the caffeine of coffee.
5. Sharpens the mind, increases concentration, eliminates fatigue and enhances intellectual acuity.
I am well aware that this is not technically one benefit but they are so interlinked that I have decided to group them together. The caffeine present in tea stimulates the central nervous system (brain/spine) and the cardiovascular system (heart) by enlarging the diameter of the vessels in the cerebral cortex (pic). This, therefore, increases the blood supply to both the brain and the heart which causes these linked properties.
Conversely, when ingested with coffee, caffeine stimulates an acceleration of the heart rate. Which whilst making you more alert is not good for your health long-term or in high quantities.
6. Stimulates the elimination of fats
Albeit also inhibits the absorption of iron and calcium from foods, yet in the vast majority of individuals, this should not be a problem unless a doctor specifically says you have low iron or calcium. In actual fact, the optimum time to drink tea to gain the most of its benefits and eradicate any side effects is actually 30 minutes after a meal.
7. Help keep you hydrated
Like all beverages, tea provides liquid thereby increasing your hydration. Although it may not seem like it both hydration and stress are key contributors to many physical ailments. Also, many drinks actually decrease your hydration with alcohol, coffee and most energy drinks being the prime examples.
8. Relieves stress
This one is actually more of a byproduct than a true medicinal property found in tea. Simply 15 minutes of meditation daily has been documented to relieve stress, which can help keep a healthy immune system and has a powerful potential to lengthen lifetimes. Even if you might not realise it but the entire ritual of putting the kettle on, pouring the water and simply sitting to enjoy a good cup of tea without worrying about everything else. Is practically meditation. Look at that you can say you know how to meditate now.
Don’t forget to have some tea on me.