The health benefits of tea


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The health benefits of tea

Postby Charles » Feb 3rd, '10, 16:25

The health benefits of tea have been a primary focus of industry marketing for roughly a decade now. Even with all the hype, there are surprisingly few tea consumers with much of an understanding for the health benefits of tea or how best to get them. I've written an article defining a few basic terms and providing answers to the most common questions that tea consumers ask (http://www.tearetailer.com/article_34.html).

I'm curious to hear any other questions you may have for which you've received questionable answers or none at all.
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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby LauraW » Feb 3rd, '10, 17:42

As always, a great, informative article! It actually did help to clear up a couple things for me - most notably, my boyfriend keeps insisting to me that tea is a diuretic and that it's actually dehydrating me, but even on days when tea consumption outweighs water consumption, I still haven't had any dehydration symptoms (and I get dehydrated fairly easily.. I know exactly what happens to me when I'm dehydrated). He also tells me that I'm "being way too picky" about my definition of tea, but that's a separate story. Under most circumstances I will admit that he knows a lot more about random things than I do, but tea is one of the exceptions - that and Shakespeare :)

I do still have a couple things up in the air about tea - the biggest thing to me is regarding tea consumption.. when you're already sick. The first thing I turn to when I have a sore throat is tea with honey and lemon, but I've also heard that hot water with honey and lemon has practically identical results - the lemon helps "clean" the throat, the honey to soothe (whiskey helps here too :D ). There's also the "chicken soup" thought to a cold as well - is it for the steam to help loosen the sinuses, or just the fact that it's a warm, comforting food (i.e. physical vs. psychological effects), or is it just because it generally helps boost the immune system? Or an old wives' tale?

There have been so many answers to this that eventually they start to sound like we're all playing a giant game of telephone, and the phrase begins "tea is helpful because..."
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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby Givequicheachan... » Feb 3rd, '10, 17:59

Cool article.

One thing I'd like to mention is that while tea does contain a lot of the nutrients found in a serving of vegetables, one of the big factors in a serving of fruits/vegetables is the fiber content, which as far as I know, tea is completely lacking (unless you eat the leaves!)
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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby Chip » Feb 3rd, '10, 18:30

This is a topic that I have seen countless times on TeaChat and other tea forums. It seems a LOT of newer members, newer tea drinkers, or probably more precisely those seeking healthy alternatives in their diets (and to the extreme, cures for what ails them) have heard the "news." Tea is supposedly good for you.

I personally drink tea for enjoyment, though I figure I could drink a lot worse things than tea obviously, so in an indirect sense, I could say I drink it also as a healthy beverage.

I am always very skeptical of marketing that seems to aggressively prey on these individuals who seek miracle cures for there ills, whatever they are. I am also a big ney sayer. A company whose home page is a billboard for all the great benefits of THEIR tea, will never see my greenbacks. However, if a site happens to have a page extolling the benefits of tea that can be located if searched for, well, that is different ... seems to be more in line with my thinking ... buy tea to enjoy, and oh by the way, it is a healthy choice.

Yet my own personal experiences run contrary a bit to these statements. I can say, that since I made a major shift in what teas I drank, that I experienced improved health in several areas. I had pretty much set aside blacks, and oolongs for greens ... and more recently Japanese greens.

Since that switch, my "digestive problems" have virtually disappeared. Long story ...

Prior to the change, I would also have a major, killer sinus infection virtually each year for likely 20+ years, it was just normal and an expectation. Full antibiotic regimen was always required to combat the SI. Since the change, not a single sinus infection, though sometimes I sense the beginning of one, but it just disappears.

And now I simply do not get sick ... coinkidinky? I don't know, I just strongly sense that green teas have played a big part in this.

So, marketing hype never impresses me, yet my personal experience has ... Go greens!!!
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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby Charles » Feb 3rd, '10, 18:33

Laura,

In answer to your question about the value of tea in treating a cold or other illness, there are several benefits:

1. Tea has been demonstrated to improve immune system function (slightly)

2. The caffeine in tea will increase alertness while the L-theanine will improve focus and keep you relaxed and calm. Because soda and coffee only contain caffeine, all you get is the jittery high. With tea you also get L-theanine which produces a state of alert, focused calm. The prospect of increasing alertness and focus in the fog of a cold sounds pretty good. :)

3. The warmth of tea will sooth the throat and help open the sinuses

4. Proper hydration to flush the system

5. The taste will make you happy. ;)

I have read that the antioxidants in Black tea are more effective in treating and/or preventing cold and flu, but I have not seen this in scientific research so can't be sure.
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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby virago_ns » Feb 5th, '10, 16:20

Great article, can't wait to see the caffeine one.
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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby Ian Bersten » Feb 6th, '10, 21:15

I have done a test at the Hangzhou Tea Institute which shows that the TP total polyphenols of antioxidants is 160% greater from small leaf green tea fannings brewed for 30 seconds at boiling point than large leaf green tea brewed for 3-5 minutes. This is highly significant.

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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby Chip » Feb 6th, '10, 21:19

Welcome to TeaChat, Ian.

... but who brews green tea in boiling water?

Have you conducted tests at a more realistic 170* F?

However I have no doubt that smaller particles release these components faster than full leaf greens. I would suspect that the smaller particle steamed Japanese greens also release these components at a faster rate.
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Re: The health benefits of tea

Postby Charles » Feb 8th, '10, 11:26

Agreed. I am aware of two reasons for this. First, there is more exposed surface area in the fannings and so the contents are infused more quickly than with a full leaf. You also get a lot more leaf particulate in the liquor after seeping dust and fannings. Matcha has the most antioxidants primarily because (being ground) they are highly accessible and you are actually consuming the leaf.

Second, recent studies out of China have suggested that exposing antioxidants to boiling water breaks them down. I have not seen these studies translated and have only heard of them, but the idea would be that prolonged exposure to boiling water would both extract far more antioxidants but then would subsequently destroy them. Your test done at 70C may well result in 300% more antioxidant content on the whole leaf brewed for 5 minutes vs. fannings for 30 seconds.
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