The World Is a Tea Party Presents: Your Guide to Tea & Your Health

This guide is primarily for teas infused from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant family. But some herbals are included.


Sections in This Guide


Overall View

Green Tea Health Benefits

Black (Red) Tea Health Benefits

Oolong Tea Health Benefits

White Tea Health Benefits

Pu-erh Tea Health Benefits

GABA Tea

Tea vs. Coffee

General Information

Additional Readings

A Word or Two About Herbals


Overall View


Disclaimer: This information is provided for general purposes and is not meant as a substitute for medical advice from your physician.

There is a great deal information that may be found about tea and health. Some claims may be dubious, but that does not mean that tea does not have health benefits. On a personal level, I have found that I had a dramatic drop in my cholesterol level after starting to drink premium Chinese teas. However, I do not discount that other factors may have played a role in the lowering of my cholesterol. The links below are provided for your information only. I hope that you will find them interesting as another dimension of your exploration of tea.

The following excerpt on health effects is used with permission and comes from Josh Chamberlain’s Master’s Thesis from National Cheng Kung University entitled Estimation and Forecasting of the Demand for Tea in the United States; July, 2005:

Green tea has long been thought to protect against certain types of cancer. There is now an increasing amount of credible scientific evidence that tea can prevent heart disease, cataracts, colon cancer and possibly help women conceive. The preventive effects are thought to be realized through the oxidation process that occurs with processing different types of tea. The preventative properties of tea are thought to destroy cancer cells. Researchers in Britain and Italy have recently found that extracts of black Assam tea (the equivalent of three to four cups a day) is shown to protect against the effects of a known carcinogen in lab rats (reported in the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal 2001).

Polyphenols are the specific compounds in tea that researchers believe carry the health benefits. These polyphenols, or flavonoids, are increasingly recognized as powerful antioxidants in tea. They are 30 times more potent than Vitamin C and E. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals that damage cells in the body.

Oxidation—which determines if a tea is green, oolong, or black, can alter the types of polyphenols found in tea. Research now shows that it is the entire range of polyphenols found in tea that provides the preventative punch. Polyphenols have been shown to interfere with plaque forming in the heart’s arteries and increase the function of blood vessels. Thus, tea can reduce heart disease and help tea drinkers fare better after a heart attack. One study showed that post heart attack heavy tea drinkers (14 or more cups per week) had a 44% reduced risk of dying of heart attacks compared with non-tea drinkers. This study was important because the participants in both groups were similar in education, income, exercise habits, smoking and drinking habits, so that the positive effects were not the result of an artifact that the healthier people were drinking more tea.

A whole range of polyphenols exists in various teas so it is not only green tea that has positive health benefits, but oolongs and black tea also appear to be extremely beneficial to a person’s health. A study conducted in Taiwan at the National Taiwan University shows that consumption of Puer tea resulted in a significant drop in cholesterol levels. Several studies have found that tea reduces the risk of bladder, stomach, colorectal, prostrate, esophageal and oral cancers. For example, a study done in 2001 at UCLA found that drinking tea reduced the risk of chronic gastritis by half. Other studies found that tea drinking reduced the risk of esophageal cancer and rectal cancer by 60%. Researchers at Rutgers University identified a compound in black tea, called TF-2, which caused decreased colorectal cancer cells in laboratory experiments while normal cells were unaffected.

Tea drinking also appears to improve bone density and strength. Taiwanese researchers found that long-time tea drinkers have stronger bones. Their study showed that hip bone density was 6.2% higher in people who drank tea habitually for 10 years or more. People who drank tea for six to 10 years had a 2.3% higher bone density. A British study published in 2000, also found higher bone density in women who drank at least one cup of tea a day. Tea contains both fluoride and phytoestrogens, which are known to increase bone density.

Recent findings from British research at the University of Newcastle show that green and black tea helps to improve memory and possibly protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Drinking tea regularly inhibits the activity of enzymes in the brain associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, while coffee had no significant effect. (Reported in the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal January 2005). A serving of tea contains about 40 milligrams of caffeine, less than half as much as is found in a serving of coffee.

Sorting Out the Health Claims About Tea and Herbals

The swirl of claims about the health benefits of teas and herbals seems never-ending. How do you sort it all out? The best way to start is to consider the source. While the Internet has made access to good information even easier, it has also made fraudulent and just plain wrong information equally accessible. You have to be more vigilant than ever in separating one from the other. Add to that the convoluted language used on many medical sites, and you can see why more plain English versions abound. But are they real or made up? Often, it is hard to tell.

One thing I know for sure: Some brief article written as a fluff filler piece on a site that focuses on news and politics is not a good source of information about any health claims, whether related to tea, herbal infusions (aka, tisanes), or other substances. I have learned over the years to take this things at arm’s length or ignore them altogether.

A better source, at least for some straight thinking about the issue of tea and health, is a tea blog like this one where the authors have looked at the details, not just at the glossy fluff filler piece. A great article popped up online addressing the cringe-inspiring Dr. Oz. I have wanted to write something here about him, too, but can’t bring myself to watch him at all (it upsets me so that I end up steeping bitter tea for my humans), so bravo to that brave blogger for at least being able to stomach him enough to know how bad he is.

Another good tip: When you come across that fluff filler piece, take time to go to any sources the author has bothered to link to. You may even need to follow links in those source articles until you get to the beginning of the trail. The time will be worthwhile since there is so much fakery out there these days. They want your “eyeball time” on their site and try to write things that will attract the search engines to them (it’s called SEO – search engine optimization). In fact, most social media “experts” post something like “10 Tips to Getting More Site Traffic” to give themselves more site traffic (Hee!) and to get you at least to see the promotion for their latest book. (As a side note, this blog recently changed its URL to conform to Google’s new structure designed to have their search engine find it faster but others to not find it at all. It’s a way to shut out the competition.)

Getting back to that latest tea health claim tidbit spreading like wildfire online, just pass it by and go to a reputable source.

About Health Claims Found on Various Sites

Health claims for teas and herbal infusions are one of the easiest things to find online. What’s tricky is finding what these are based on. For many we found no supporting studies at all. In fact, most of the claims have no merit and are highly disputed by medical authorities.

Some of these health claims, such as the presence of antioxidants, are fairly well-supported by various studies. The cancer claims are another matter, with some reputable sources saying true and others saying false. As for weight loss, that is almost always very much up to the individual and has to be considered along with a variety of other factors such as genetic make-up, lifestyle changes as a result of switching to drinking tea (you may, for example, tend to eat at fast food places less often, not that eating at these places will necessarily make you fat), activity level changes when you switch to drinking tea, and so on.

So, here’s that disclaimer that we always like to include when discussing such matters: consult your doctor.

We do know that the lack of sugar is helpful for diabetes, and the energy needed for a good gongfu session is helpful in burning up excess fat. Other than that, who knows.

See also: Tea Health Authorities Are Not Created Equal.

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Green Tea Health Benefits


While research is ongoing, there have been signs that drinking a freshly steeped cup of green tea per day is certainly helpful (but definitely not a cure-all). Longjing is often considered the healthiest green tea, being made from tender shoots with the highest levels of beneficial EGCG and ECG which decreases as they mature on the plant. However, generally speaking, delicate, sweet-tasting young tea shoots harvested in early Spring make the best green tea. And many have these same quality markers. A great plus for their wonderful flavors.

See also 5 Things to Know About GABA Tea.

List of Health Benefits

This chart is compiled from a variety of sources posted online. The list is not all inclusive but contains the most popular items. We present them here more for pointing out how many things are attributed to these beverages, but we leave it to you to consult with your doctor about their veracity.

Category Health Benefit Claims (mostly unproven and disputed)
Cancer
  • High in antioxidants which may interfere with growth of some cancers (bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal)
  • Promotes healthy cell growth
  • Linked to the prevention of breast, lung, and stomach cancer
  • Reduces risk of esophageal cancer in women by 60%
  • May help protect skin from UV rays
Circulatory system
  • Reduces bad cholesterol – prevents clogging of the arteries and helps with heart and cardiovascular difficulties
  • Reduces risk of stroke
Weight loss
  • Increases metabolism
  • Promotes fat oxidation
Other
  • Has a relaxing and calming effect
  • Reduces risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease
  • Fluoride content may help prevent tooth decay
  • Matcha is specifically said to be a good wake-up tea

The Healthiest Green Teas

Some green teas have more of the elements responsible for the health benefits than others do. In the case of matcha, that element is caffeine (yes, it can be beneficial). So part of your assessment of which green teas are healthiest has to do in part with what your health goal is: weight loss, cancer prevention, improved circulation, better teeth and hair, calming down, perking up, etc.

Beneficial Elements

The big contenders here for what makes tea such a boon of good health are tea flavonoids (a group of antioxidant compounds found primarily in plants). Over 4,000 have been classified so far, and those have been divided into seven main groups. The ones in tea are in the flavanol group and include catechins and theaflavins (two of the three classes of flavanols, the third being proanthocyanidins). Higher levels of catechins are found in green teas, while black teas have more theaflavins (catechins are mostly converted to theaflavins and thearubigins during the production of black tea). There are four types of catechins: epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin (EC).

So we have this relationship:

  • Tea flavonoids (seven main groups)
    • Flavanol group (the one in tea)
      • Catechins
        • epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – one of the most potent
        • epicatechin gallate (ECG) – one of the most potent
        • epigallocatechin (EGC)
        • epicatechin (EC)
      • Theaflavins
      • Proanthocyanidins (the one not in tea)

EC in green tea has been shown to improve blood flow, reduce blood clots, and minimize hardening of the arteries, so it may be good for heart health. Research has shown that people who regularly drink green tea reduce their risk of stomach, throat, and several other kinds of cancer. That’s the catechins at work.

The antioxidant properties of these catechins are what account for the benefits such as healthier skin and teeth.

Caffeine, as previously mentioned, is also beneficial for those not overly sensitive to it. It perks you up while the L-Theanine in tea soothes you. Both of these elements plus the fact that tea drunk straight has zero calories can help your diet plan, but they certainly don’t guarantee weight loss. Green teas are great hydrators after that workout or yoga session, though, and have no carbonation to make you feel bloated.

Which Green Teas Are Best

A previous study has found that as tea shoots get older, levels of EGCG and ECG decrease and EGC and EC increase. Naturally, green teas made from young shoots will be the better choice. Longjing is one such tea.

Longjing contains:

  • high levels of all four of the important green tea quality markers (catechins, caffeine, gallic, and theanine acid)
  • high levels of EGCG and ECG and lower levels of EGC
  • higher levels of theogallin
  • 2-O-(arabinopyranosyl)-myo-inositol
  • six minor sugar compounds
  • lower levels of fatty acids and sucrose

However, generally speaking, delicate, sweet-tasting young tea shoots harvested in early Spring make the best green tea. And many have these same quality markers. A great plus for their wonderful flavors.

Which Form Is Best

Loose leaf is strongly recommended. As fresh as possible. Don’t oversteep (to avoid getting a bitterness to the tea flavor).

A comparison by the USDA in 2007 of flavonoid content in almost 400 different kinds of green teas found that a cup of hot, regular (non-decaffeinated) green tea is the healthiest. A mere 100 milliliters (approx. 3.4 fluid ounces) of green tea contains 127 milligrams of catechins – twice the amount in decaffeinated green tea, three times more than in a flavored green tea, and ten times more than an instant or bottled green tea.

On average, a cup of green tea will have roughly 100 mg of EGCG per 8 ounces, but this will vary by brand, region grown, steeping time, age of the leaves, and so on.

Avoid bottled green teas and the dust in bags kinds. Whole or near-whole leaf in pyramid sachets is good. Extracts in liquid and pill or capsule form are also available; some is said to be effective, but the price can be too high and the pleasure of the tea flavors is lost. There seems to be more overdosing with the pills and capsules than when drinking the freshly steeped tea. However, caffeine is a problem for some, even the relatively low amounts in a cup of green tea (as much as 20 mg), so you may have to go the supplement route in that case. No easy answers, and as always we advise that you consult your doctor.

While research is ongoing, there have been signs that drinking a freshly steeped cup of green tea per day is certainly helpful (but definitely not a cure-all).

A Study Showing Green Tea Aiding Weight Loss

Catechins, a type of polyphenols, have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, but recent research in animals show that catechins may also affect body fat accumulation and cholesterol levels. Green teas are particularly rich in catechins.

One of the reasons researchers claim that green tea might be a better fat fighter is that the leaves are not oxidized during their processing. Oolong, black, and pu-erh teas all undergo some oxidizing. Of course, white teas are also not oxidized, so they should probably be included on this fat fighting team. Except that catechins seem to be higher in the slightly more mature leaves used to make green teas.

A study involved a group of 35 Japanese men with similar weights based on BMI (body mass index, an indicator of body fat) and waist sizes. They were divided into two groups. One group drank a bottle of oolong tea fortified with green tea extract containing 690 milligrams of catechins. The other group drank a bottle of oolong tea with 22 milligrams of catechins. Food intact during the study was identical for breakfast and dinner. (The study does not say if anyone actually monitored their food intake.) At the end of three months, the group drinking the green-tea enhanced bottled oolong overall lost more weight (5.3 pounds vs. 2.9 pounds) than the group drinking a bottle of straight oolong tea and had a significantly greater decrease in BMI, waist size, total body fat, and and LDL cholesterol (linked to heart disease). The assumption is that green tea contains some fat decreasing substances. Reference: a January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This assumption may have merit.

Based on this study, some recommend that you drink about 32 ounces (4 cups) per day or use green tea extract supplements. We suggest that you consult your doctor.

Green Tea and Your Tummy

Green tea, as healthy as it is claimed to be, can engage in some very unfriendly activity with the human tummy (we teapots thankfully have no such difficulties).

The big culprit in green tea seems to be caffeine. Green tea contains about 9 to 50 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. Too much caffeine has been shown to increase the release of gastric acid, causing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, not to mention the jitters. Also at issue are the higher amounts of polyphenols than in other types of teas. One of these is tannin, which are astringent tasting and even quite bitter.

If you, too, tend to have tummy trouble when drinking too much green tea, you have a couple of options:

  • Infuse the tea half-strength.
  • Reduce how much you drink.
  • Try a yellow tea instead.

While more rare and a bit pricier, yellow tea is a slightly processed green tea that tends to be less grassy tasting than many green teas. This is achieved by harvesting early in the year and letting the teas oxidize slowly, imparting to the liquid a sweet, mellow flavor and a bright yellow color. The leaves will usually be small and unbroken, and the liquid is high in antioxidants, low in caffeine.

Yellow tea belongs to fermented tea. As a great deal of Digestive enzyme occurred during its smothering process, a slow oxidation process, yellow tea is much beneficial for the spleen and stomach. It is good at correcting indigestion, stimulating appetite and helping losing weight.

Worth a try. TOOOT!

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Black Tea (Red Tea) Health Benefits


While research is ongoing, drinking a freshly steeped cup of black tea per day has certainly been shown to be helpful, but not a cure-all. Black tea and others made from the tea plant species (Camellia sinensis) contain caffeine, which you can indulge in too much, resulting in caffeine-related side effects such as anxiety, insomnia, headache, nervousness, tremors and more. Also, be careful about combining them with foods that contain caffeine such as chocolate. And check with your doctor for possible interactions with medicines and supplements you are taking.

See also: Black and Red and Dark Teas Explained

List of Health Benefits

This chart is compiled from a variety of sources posted online. The list is not all inclusive but contains the most popular items. We present them here more for pointing out how many things are attributed to these beverages, but we leave it to you to consult with your doctor about their veracity.

Category Health Benefit Claims (mostly unproven and disputed)
Diseases
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke with its anti-inflammatory properties and theophylline (increases blood flow in the capillaries, helps maintain normal blood pressure)
  • Reduces the risk of kidney stones
  • Lowers the chances of getting Parkinson’s disease
Breathing
  • May protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Can expand airways and ease breathing for asthmatics
Beauty
  • Protects skin from UV rays
  • Good for oral health
Other
  •  Very low in sodium, fat and calories (without milk and sugar, honey, etc.)
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels
  • Has about half the caffeine of a standard cup of coffee

Beneficial Elements

While green tea is rich in catechins (one of the three classes of flavanols), black tea is rich in theaflavins (another class of flavanols). They are developed during the production of the tea and help reduce clotting and improve blood flow, among other things.

In addition, black tea has manganese that helps cardiac muscle function. TF-2, a compound in black tea, programs certain types of cancer cells to self-destruct but leaves normal cells alone. It seems particularly effective in reducing the risk of oral cancer for smokers, along with polyphenols, which are also good to counter tooth decay and bad breath. Phytochemicals in black tea is said to help keep bones stronger. Tannins are supposed to help the digestive system, fight off things like flu, dysentery, and hepatitis, and retard the development of tumors.

Caffeine in black tea has a number of benefits: the low amount stimulates but not overly so, heightens mental focus, gives your memory a bit of a boost, and stimulates your metabolism which is good for weight loss. On the other hand, L-theanine in black tea relaxes you. Theophylline in black tea works with caffeine to stimulate breathing, blood flow, and kidneys. Plus alkylamine antigens are supposed to help your immune system.

Which Form Is Best

Just as for the green teas, stay with loose leaf tea. True, those bagged teas are convenient, but they are often also just stale dust. The loose tea is usually broken or whole leaf and can be infused a couple of times. The flavors tend to be more vibrant, so you can “take your medicine” and enjoy it at the same time.

A Word of Caution

Too much of a good thing… that’s the standard phrase. And it’s as true of black tea as it is of other things. According to WebMD, too much black tea can result in caffeine-related side effects such as anxiety, insomnia, headache, nervousness, tremors and more. What constitutes “too much” is up to you. We all have different levels of tolerances and you can build up some resistance to the effects. You should also watch out having a lot of black tea with other caffeine-laden products. The combined effect could be even more negative, with jitteriness, seizures, and higher blood pressure. And check with your doctor for possible interactions with medicines and supplements you are taking.

While research is ongoing, drinking a freshly steeped cup of black tea per day has certainly been shown to be helpful, but not a cure-all.

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Oolong Tea Health Benefits


Research studies on the health benefits of Oolong tea (also referred to as oolong tea) reveal the tea’s potential to reverse signs of aging, facilitate weight loss, and promote overall wellness. While all teas possess similar properties including caffeine, catechins, polyphenols, and teaflavin tearubigin, that provide benefits to the human body, the quantities and percentages differ depending on the extent of oxidation during production. Therefore the health benefits of Oolong tea, which is semi-oxidized, vary from those offered by green tea with its limited processing and black tea with its extensive oxidation process.

List of Health Benefits

This chart is compiled from a variety of sources posted online. The list is not all inclusive but contains the most popular items. We present them here more for pointing out how many things are attributed to these beverages, but we leave it to you to consult with your doctor about their veracity.

Category Health Benefit Claims (mostly unproven and disputed)
Weight Loss

 

  • Scientists from Japan’s University of Tokushima School of Medicine found that people who regularly consumed oolong tea experienced more than twice the calorie-burning results compared to those who drank green tea.
  • A study published in the Journal of Medical Investigation found that women who consumed wu-long tea directly after a meal increased energy expenditure by 10%. This compared to an energy expenditure of 4% for green tea drinkers and 0 for water drinkers.
  • Researchers at the Suntory Research Center in Osaka, Japan found that drinking Oolong tea 15 minutes before eating foods high in carbohydrates curbed rises in insulin, thus reducing some of the fattening effects of carbohydrate intake.
Skin Condition
  • Researchers from Japan’s Shiga University of Medical Science found that drinking Oolong each day helps to clear up skin problems within one month.
  • Dr. Kenichi Yanagimoto and colleagues from the University of California found that people who drank Oolong tea on a daily basis experienced a 50% reduction in free radicals within 15 days. Free radicals are damaging substances in the body that contribute to signs of aging, including wrinkles and dark spots that are caused by ultra-violet rays, chemical food additives, pollution and stress.
Teeth
  • A study by the Department of Dentistry at Japan’s Osaka University showed that regular consumption of oolong tea strengthens teeth and helps prevent tooth decay by inhibiting the build-up of plaque.
Immune System
  • According to a study published in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, test subjects who consumed Oolong were found to have stronger immune systems and a reduced risk for infections.

Oolong Tea and Weight Loss

All tea comes from one plant Camellia sinensis. Over time, the plant formed chemical compounds known as polyphenols to defend against photosynthetic stressors. Like fruits and vegetables, these polyphenols are beneficial to you. In tea, it’s flavonoids.

All tea is green when picked. Oolong tea leaves are plucked, kept under carefully controlled conditions and allowed to oxidize. These leaves are not intentionally broken, leaving most of the cell structure intact.

The Weight Loss Connection

The two main ways to reduce food related body weight are: increase energy expenditure (EE) and slow the absorption of fat and carbohydrates. Caffeine, a stimulant, is widely thought to increase metabolism and EE. There may be other factors involved, too.

A Chinese study, in 1998, of 102 females showed that continuous consumption of oolong tea for six weeks resulted in a reduction of body weight and spurred further research.

In 2001, Physiologist Dr. William Rumpler, of the US Agriculture Research Services’ Diet and Human Laboratory, conducted a study measuring how tea influences energy expenditure (EE). Twelve male volunteers were given four separate beverage formulas over three consecutive days. The beverage formulas consisted of:

  1. full strength oolong tea
  2. caffeinated water with caffeine equal to full strength oolong tea
  3. half strength oolong tea
  4. non-caffeinated water

The participants 24 hour EE was measured and resulted in:

  • EE levels were about 3% higher when they drank either the full strength oolong tea or the caffeinated water versus the non caffeinated water.
  • Participants burned an average of 67 more calories per day when drinking the full strength oolong tea.
  • Participants increased fat oxidation (fat burning) by 12% after consuming the full strength oolong tea versus the caffeinated water.

This data confirms that a component other than caffeine is responsible for promoting the preferential use of fat as an energy source. Scientists then speculated that caffeine combined with EGCGs worked together to increase fat oxidation.

A well-controlled Japanese study, conducted in 2003, included eleven healthy young female students. They received three different beverage formulas:

  1. oolong tea
  2. powdered green tea leaves
  3. water

Both teas were prepared with boiling water. The oolong tea steeped for five minutes and the powdered green tea leaves were dissolved. The findings showed that the polymerized polyphenols, highest in oolong tea, link tea to burning fat, not just the caffeine or just the combination of caffeine and EGCGs. Oolong tea’s effect on blocking the absorption of fats and carbohydrates is thought to play a key role in its weight reducing benefits. While more studies need to be done, initial studies indicate that oolong tea has absorption blocking potential.

Watch Out for the Tricks

  • Oolong tea is not a quick fix despite the recent advertising claims by slick marketing “professionals.”
  • Oolong tea does not have to be expensive to be effective.
  • $39.95 is too much to pay for a 30 day supply of low quality oolong, get what you pay for.
  • These studies do not indicate that oolongs grown in a specific area are better fat burners than other oolongs. It’s the processing that counts.
  • Losing 20 lbs in 30 days by adding two cups of oolong tea to your daily routine is nothing more than hype. If this were true, my ‘she’ human would be a size 2.
  • Even if you are dieting, drinking oolong, and exercising, it is hard to achieve that much weight loss in 30 days.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, then it is to good to be true!

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White Tea Health Benefits


White tea is very special, and many are fairly rare. The key is the leaves, usually unopened buds plucked early in the morning before the dew is gone off of them. These leaves have not developed some chemicals in more mature leaves, and they have also not lost some key ingredients.

See also: Your Guide to White Teas.

List of Health Benefits

This chart is compiled from a variety of sources posted online. The list is not all inclusive but contains the most popular items. We present them here more for pointing out how many things are attributed to these beverages, but we leave it to you to consult with your doctor about their veracity.

Category Health Benefit Claims (mostly unproven and disputed)
Diseases
  • Has the highest antioxidant properties and helps fight aging and wrinkles
  • Helps strengthen the immune system and prevent bacterial infections
  • Lessens symptoms of the common cold
  • May help reduce the risk of arthritis
Cancer
  • Contains more potent anticancer properties than processed teas, may help reduce risk of colon cancer
Heart
  • Studies [unnamed] show that can thin blood, improve artery function, and help blood pressure go down and stay down, protecting heart and circulatory system
Weight Loss
  • May inhibit the growth of new fat cells
Other
  • Low in caffeine

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Pu-erh Tea Health Benefits


Pu-erh tea has gained popularity among consumers in over 20 countries and regions after becoming available in international markets. High-quality pu-erh has become increasingly available in online tea stores.

List of Health Benefits

This chart is compiled from a variety of sources posted online. The list is not all inclusive but contains the most popular items. We present them here more for pointing out how many things are attributed to these beverages, but we leave it to you to consult with your doctor about their veracity.

Category Health Benefit Claims (mostly unproven and disputed)
Circulation
  • Known to help lower cholesterol levels, boost blood flow, and improve circulation
  • Has antioxidants that help remove toxins from the blood stream
Other
  • Aids digestion
  • Improves spleen function
  • Helps control blood sugar levels

Medical Benefits from Two Studies

A medical experiment conducted by a hospital in France proved that regular consumption of the tea can apparently lower blood lipid by 13% (3 cups/day in one month). The tea can also lower the alcoholic contents in blood. Besides, over 40% of the subjects which drink Pu-erh Tea lose their weight for different extents obviously for people of the 40-50 age group. For lowering lipid matters, 34% were tested with excellent result and 33% good. Triglyceride, cholesterol and uric acid can be lowered to various levels as well. Thus, Pu-erh Tea is renowned as slimming tea or health tea in Japan, Italy, Hong Kong, Macao, etc.

A clinical test conducted by Kunming Medical Institute proved that pu-erh tea has a higher curative effect than clofibrate, a medicine to cure lipemia. The same effect has been verified on lowering cholesterol levels. No side-effect occurs with regular consumption. Recent medical experiments also report that pu-erh tea (100g of tea infused in 700ml of boiling water and taken 4 times a day) is a bacteriostatic, especially effective against bacillary dysentery. Therefore, regular consumption of pu-erh tea can prevent dysentery, too. Unlike other stimulating black teas and because of its mild nature, pu-erh tea can cut the grease, help digestion, promote body fluid secretion, quench thirst, invigorate the spleen, and dispel alcoholic toxins.

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GABA Tea


See also 5 Things to Know About GABA Tea.

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Tea vs. Coffee


See also Coffee vs. Tea.

5 Things About Coffee That Will Make You Switch to Tea (Maybe)

In the U.S. a large percentage of folks drink both coffee and tea. A lot of them see tea as that beverage for when they are sick (remember that seen in Working Girl where Harrison Ford is offering a passed out Kathy Griffin some tea just because that’s what would sound good to him when he was in a similar condition?). Or they confuse herbals such as Rooibos and chamomile with true tea from the Camellia sinensis plant. But I propose, with a slight bit of prejudice as one who is devoted to tea and avoids coffee, that tea should be the drink of choice even for that morning wake-up cup.

Here are a few reasons why (click on each photo for details):

1 – Coffee is not exactly a beautifier

Ask any dentist, and he/she will tell you that coffee, especially when drunk straight (without milk), is a teeth stainer. Now, in fairness, some teas can stain, too. Those strong black teas (when not drunk with milk) will stain. And I can’t advise you to use spent coffee grounds on your eyes to reduce puffiness the way you can use spent teabags.

2 – You’ll spend more time in the…uh…privy

There is some research showing that coffee can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). So, you could find yourself seeking out facilities with increased frequency. Of course, both tea and coffee are said to be diuretics (but some debate that claim), but add IBS on top of it… plus, the whole diuretic thing is questionable, which leaves just IBS to worry about, which is quite enough.

3 – A caffeine seesaw

You get that initial jolt of caffeine with your morning cup. You float along on it awhile and then… CRASH! You suddenly feel down and need another cup. Or a donut. Or both. Anything to get you back “up.” The caffeine has other affects: shakiness, concentration problems, an increased chance of a heart attack. And the caffeine levels in coffee are on average about twice what they are in tea. (Espresso is even higher.)

4 – You can experience symptoms when stopping drinking coffee

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration generally considers caffeine to be safe and not truly addictive the way that various controlled substances are, you can still get used to it and experience some physical symptoms when you stop drinking coffee: headaches and a general feeling of irritability.

5 – Not nearly as social as tea

There is just something about tea that coffee doesn’t have, at least not for those of us a bit more inclined to such things: the social event. There is Afternoon Tea, High Tea, Elevenses, and so on. There is the Buckingham Palace Garden Tea Party. But you see no such equivalents for coffee. Yes, there’s the coffee klatch, but other than that, coffee is that cup in the morning, the shot of espresso after a gourmet meal, that cappuccino in-between. With tea you steep a cup or a potful and enjoy it either with a good book, your latest knitting project, or while watching a movie, or you enjoy some with friends, often at the nearest tea room.

If that’s not enough to convince you to drop the coffee and stick to tea, then consider that tea has greater longevity, having been consumed by humans for about 1900 years longer than coffee. Enjoy!

Tea — a Replacement for Coffee?

A recent Tea Forum showed how those of us in North America are becoming more conscious of tea. That is, we’re not just willy-nilly grabbing that cheap teabag, dunking it in tepid water, and slurping down the resulting sorry excuse for tea. As great as all that is, I’d like to go a step further and see tea as a replacement for coffee. No way, you say? Yes way, I say.

It’s great to enjoy those fine teas and to do so in a very conscious manner. But I see the goal as replacing that automatic cup of coffee they reach for in the morning and during the day with a cup or even a potful of tea. The proverbial donuts and coffee can become the donuts and oolong or maybe a nice Keemun or Yunnan black tea. Not at all impossible.

The Tea Machine Approach

If you have one of those new-fangled tea steeping machines or one of those coffee steeping machines that uses the little cups, your are all set to transition from coffee with all that excessive caffeine that will just make you all squirrely all day to tea which has much less caffeine and is supposed to have a veritable slew of health benefits, such as antioxidants. Not only are there already teas that come packaged in the little K-cups, but there are now cups for these machines that you can fill up yourself with whatever tea you want. (Caution: some teas are better suited to this style of steeping than others. You might want to do some experimenting.)

The Tea Station Approach

One reason people go for coffee instead of tea is that they think it’s easier and more convenient to make. But even the best teas can be as easy and convenient as coffee or even more so. A tea station is the key. A kettle for heating the water, a teapot for steeping, a stock of your favorite tea, and some cups. Anything you usually add to the tea should be handy, too. I use milk, so my tea station is within easy reach of the refrigerator. Others use lemons and other flavorings that they add after the tea is steeped. Keep some in stock and nearby.

Retrain Your Brain

We tend to be creatures of habit. We “get into a groove” so to speak and need to make a conscious effort to get out of it. This is a true of which beverage we go for as with other things. Make a conscious effort to have tea instead of coffee, and soon you will have acquired the tea habit.

Grow That Habit

Getting back to that forum, you can grow your newly acquired tea habit by being more conscious not only of drinking tea versus coffee but by expanding your tea knowledge and thus your tea experiences. That includes paying closer attention to the tea as you drink. Letting the tea slightly cool will help here, since you will be able to let that liquid flow over your tongue more leisurely and thus take in the wonderful flavors. Tea is a wonderfully varied beverage that’s easier to make front and center in your life than you’d think. It’s a perfect replacement for coffee.

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General Information


Tea and Health — Who Can You Trust

Tea and your health is a topic that abounds, both online and in print. The Internet, in fact, has led to an explosion of health sites, some legitimate and others — well, let’s just say that you need to be cautious and look at who is behind the site.

Tea and health claims are fairly wide-reaching and include diabetes, various forms of cancer, weight loss, hair and skin beauty, overall anti-aging, blood pressure and cholesterol levels control, digestion easing, headache relief, and even fertility. If everything written about health benefits from green tea are true, we should all be chugging the stuff by the gallon. And now, black tea is being touted as just as healthy as green tea.

A couple of points to keep in mind when looking up tea and health information online:

  1. Go to the original study when you can find it. It will probably read like some language used by aliens from outer space. But there is usually a summary.
  2. When reading an article about tea and health benefits, be sure the author is someone who can understand the medical study info and bring it to you in a clear and accurate manner. Most science and medical reporters fall far short of this. The run-of-the-mill journalist isn’t even in the same ballpark. The phrase “It is well known that tea aids in…” is a dead giveaway that the article is little more than echoing others who have echoed others who have echoed…

Most of the health info I have come across online has been on either content mill sites or tea sites, both lacking any verification that the authors have any legitimate medical credentials. Ezinearticles.com, Tea.topicgiant.com, Suite101.com, and Café-list.com are content mills. Relaxsipenjoy.com, Teagenius.com, Revolutiontea.com, Tealaden.com, Teabenefits.com, Teaarticles.com, and Learn-about-tea.com are tea sites. Most tea vendors also link to or directly post articles on tea health. This isn’t necessarily an indication that the information is unreliable, but it is an indication that you should dig a little deeper and verify what is in the article.

One exception is WholeHealthMD.com — according to their site, they are the “result of the collaboration of medical writing specialists, conventionally-trained physicians and integrative CAM specialists who practice in integrative medicine centers.” Another is HealthCastle.com with articles from Registered Dietitians, including founder Gloria Tsang, RD. There is also a great table of nutrients in tea on the USDA site. There are legitimate studies showing the effects of catechins, polyphenols, flavanoids, etc., in tea on the human body, but you have to dig for them.

The most important tip is to verify any tea health claims with your doctor, something that is good to keep in mind no matter what health info you are seeking.

Detox Tea

See Detox Tea – A Definite Myth

When It Comes to Tea Health Claims, Consult Your Doctor

The last thing any tea vendor is in a position to do is dispense medical advice. And that includes passing along, either on their store site, their blog, or their social media sites, the many articles floating about the internet touting tea’s health benefits in curing/preventing everything from asthma to zits. Even articles that reference various medical studies or that are supposed to be written by doctors are a bit suspect. Tending to be the type of person that errs on the side of caution, I have avoided on this blog during my years as editor the temptation to do any more than say that such claims exist and that you should consult your doctor.

A big reason for my avoidance is also the litigious nature currently dominating in our country. A major competitor of The English Tea Store (owner of this blog) had a class action lawsuit brought against them for the many health benefit claims on their packaging and web site. They were able to wriggle out of part of the lawsuit by pointing out the tea contained antioxidants (but they didn’t prove that those antioxidants delivered the health benefits they were claiming). Still, the claims being touted by them and others would have you think that tea was indeed a miracle elixir. It’s certainly tasty, but…

Plus, if you start discussing health benefits, you have to discuss also the dangers (many of which are also unproven). Caffeine (L-Theanine in tea) is on the rise as public enemy #1 in some quarters. It’s a bit like gluten. A small percentage of people have a legitimate health issue but many others convince themselves that they have that health issue, too. And some tea vendors glom onto the idea to sell more decaffeinated or gluten-free products than otherwise be sold. As for those antioxidants in tea (and other foods), their benefits are being challenged these days. Just as the old ideas about fat causing heart attacks are now being dismissed as having no scientific basis, so the assumption that antioxidants are good for you is in doubt. The debate rages about how they affect cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, for example. A study in Sweden shows it may speed up the progress of lung cancer.

Let’s not even get into the stuff labeled “herbal tea.” Very confusing. And an article about tea and health on WebMD not only lumps the herbal stuff with true tea (made from the Camellia sinensis plant) but doesn’t even use proper tea processing terminology, using the term “fermentation” where it’s obvious they should be using “oxidation,” for example. Makes me wonder what has happened to this site that I used to consider so reliable.

So, you can see why I have steered away from the whole health benefit thing. It’s also why I say, “When it comes to tea health claims, consult your doctor.”

Sorting Out the Health Claims About Tea and Herbals

The swirl of claims about the health benefits of teas and herbals seems never-ending. How do you sort it all out? The best way to start is to consider the source. While the Internet has made access to good information even easier, it has also made fraudulent and just plain wrong information equally accessible. You have to be more vigilant than ever in separating one from the other. Add to that the convoluted language used on many medical sites, and you can see why more plain English versions abound. But are they real or made up? Often, it is hard to tell.

One thing I know for sure: Some brief article written as a fluff filler piece on a site that focuses on news and politics is not a good source of information about any health claims, whether related to tea, herbal infusions (aka, tisanes), or other substances. I have learned over the years to take this things at arm’s length or ignore them altogether.

A better source, at least for some straight thinking about the issue of tea and health, is a tea blog like this one where the authors have looked at the details, not just at the glossy fluff filler piece. A great article popped up addressing the cringe-inspiring Dr. Oz. I have wanted to write something here about him, too, but can’t bring myself to watch him at all, so bravo to the author for at least being able to stomach him enough to know how bad he is.

Another good tip: When you come across that fluff filler piece, take time to go to any sources the author has bothered to link to. You may even need to follow links in those source articles until you get to the beginning of the trail. The time will be worthwhile since there is so much fakery out there these days. They want your “eyeball time” on their site and try to write things that will attract the search engines to them (it’s called SEO – search engine optimization). In fact, most social media “experts” post something like “10 Tips to Getting More Site Traffic” to give themselves more site traffic (Hee!) and to get you at least to see the promotion for their latest book. (As a side note, this blog recently changed its URL to conform to Google’s new structure designed to have their search engine find it faster but others to not find it at all. It’s a way to shut out the competition.)

Getting back to that latest tea health claim tidbit spreading like wildfire online, just pass it by and go to a reputable source.

Tea Shop as Pharmacy?

With all of the claims for health benefits from tea flying around online and just about everywhere else, tea shop owners are being besieged by people demanding the latest tea fad. When the shop personnel say “I’m sorry we don’t carry that tea,” the customer treats them as some horrible ogres who are personally responsible for their suffering. It’s a real rock and a hard place. Sigh!

Some of the tea fads out there are:

  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) tea, which is supposed to help relax you and lower your blood pressure and increase oxygen in the blood.
  • Wuyi Slimming Oolong ― very iffy. Some swear by it while others declare it dangerous. “Wuyi” is just the name of the mountains in China where this tea originates from. The tea is supposed to contain a significant amount of polyphenols which speeds up metabolism to help you lose weight.
  • Kombucha tea (made from a yeast culture also called “kombucha mushroom” mixed with black tea). It is supposed to be a miracle beverage, but there are few studies to support this. Some benefits attributed to drinking kombucha tea are: digestive aid, hypertension easer, and relief from chronic fatigue and arthritis.

Every time articles come out about these and other claims of health benefits from one kind of tea or another tea vendors get slammed with people almost clamoring to buy some. Not only do tea shops not always stock these things, they are also not in the pharmaceutical business.

Homeopathy, where you dose yourself with something that somebody swears will help your asthma, clear the congestion from your lungs, help that pizza make its way through your system, improve your hair’s shininess, etc., is really out of the purview of most tea shops. They focus on taste and aroma of teas, endeavoring to bring you a wonderful experience in both.

Next time you’re all excited about the latest hot new thing in tea curatives, beware that hundreds and possibly thousands of others are looking for these, too. So, if the tea shop doesn’t have a particular item in stock, be patient with them. Many are willing to special order these things for you.

As always, I also say that consulting your physician first is a good idea. Many of the claims are little more than hearsay and jumping to conclusions based on the experiences of a few users.

All Things in Moderation…Even Tea?

There is an idiom “Moderation in all things” which is usually taken to mean roughly “do not do anything too much or too little” — it’s one I turn a bit sideways to “All things in moderation.” And that includes tea…or does it?

The trick here, of course, is how you define “moderation.” That definition varies greatly when you are speaking of imbibing tea versus sugar and fat intake, non-water-soluble vitamin consumption (especially vitamin A), aerobic exercise, body piercings, TV viewing, and various contact sports played on a non-professional level. Briefly, the threshold for tea consumption is much, much, much higher. Of course, some heights are so high as to be virtually insignificant in any kind of limiting factor way. So why bother even discussing them? Well, why not?

Actually, the idea was sparked in my brain by a posting on Facebook claiming that sugar consumption was bad. Certainly over consumption was bad, but then that is true of a lot of things. So my mind traveled down this pathway for awhile and came up with more and more items that should be enjoyed in similarly modest fashion. But tea never made it on that list.

Except for those who have a hypersensitivity to caffeine, I have yet to hear of someone actually overindulging in this fabulous and varied beverage. Even when engaging in multiple infusions of a nice sheng (raw or uncooked) pu-erh, as one of my Facebook “friends” prefers, the amount of liquid being taken in is actually rather small — less than if you were to share a bottle or two of wine, for instance. I tend to steep up a 6-cup potful of tea and finish it off fairly quickly. So far, no ill effects. Of course, that’s just anecdotal evidence. A site specializing in green tea drinking for health does caution that too much green tea can cause you to consume too many of the minerals that naturally accumulate in tea leaves such as aluminium, manganese, and fluoride. But they do imply that you’d have to drink excessive amounts such as 20-30 cups per day for many years.

One article claims that 3 to 5 cups of tea per day is harmful due to excessive caffeine. If that’s the case, I’m in big trouble since my daily intake regularly exceeds that. Stomach upset has also been reported and attributed to excessive tea drinking, but I have never experienced it even after doing taste tests (not the kind where you swish and spit, but the kind where you actually drink the tea) of oolongs, green teas, black teas, and even pu-erhs. Again, anecdotal evidence. Sigh!

Which brings me to the conclusion that “moderation” is a very personal matter. You’ll know when you’ve had too much tea — that is, if there really is any such limit. Cheers!

Thoughts on Tea Health Benefit Claims

Keeping up on news in the world of tea can be rather challenging. Sorting out the real items from the not-so-real is part of that challenge, and so is refraining from passing along through this blog or social media items that are in that latter category. A few things have been of special concern lately, so I thought a comment or two on them was needed here.

Fake Health Info Sites

Maybe “fake” is not the right word. More like illegitimate or unsubstantiated. The sites are real in that they exist, but fake in that the information is presented without anything behind it to verify it. When it comes to your health, that’s a rather important point.

One site is run by a single person and is said to generate over $180K per year in revenue, probably through ads. The information comes from a variety of sources, often having been “scraped” (copied in their entirety without the permission of the owners), and rarely has any links to clinical studies to back up the claims. Another site has articles written by various contributors, none of which have any kind of medical education, and one who is a 22-year-old self-proclaimed tech nerd.

Old Adages About Health Being Refuted Daily

It seems that every day brings a news story where some long-standing adage about health is shown as wrong. Many of these adages were just made up, such as the one about fatty foods making you fat and about coconut oil being bad for your heart. All the more reason for me to be very cautious when reading and sharing such info about tea.

Future Harm to the Tea Industry

The biggest concern to me as a tea vendor is sorta like what happened to those traveling sellers of patent nostrums (as some called them, but to you and me known more familiarly as “snake oil” or “mystery cures in a bottle”). When the truth eventually came out, some salesmen were stripped, painted with hot tar, and liberally coated with chicken feathers. Then they were chased out of town (“road out of town on a rail” – not too nice sounding). The clinical evidence for many of the health claims being made about tea are so slim or even downright fraudulent that I hesitate to ever mention them. Even the old saw about the benefits of anti-oxidants have come into question, especially for anyone with cancer (diagnosed or not). The backlash against tea vendors who have overemphasized supposed weight loss from drinking oolongs was a good example of what might be ahead.

The Real Reason for Drinking Tea

I love tea, especially pu-erh, and don’t miss the sugary drinks that used to be part of my daily intake. The boost from tea is gentler than coffee and the L-theanine in tea also soothes me (one of the things that is definitely proven). The flavors of teas are so enjoyable as is without anything added that it took me awhile to even consider carrying such flavored or enhanced teas to my lineup. And then I made sure those teas still focused on the tea flavor, with the additions being complementary to the flavors in the tea, not covering them up.

Knowing how to prepare teas to get the best flavors from them is also important, and I see lots of bad advice online along with a lot of good advice. We like to tell you the good ways and let you decide if you want to do that Western or Asian style of preparation. Tea is enjoyment. Any possible health benefit is a bonus. Enjoy, folks!

5 Things to Know About Tea and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Tea has been enjoyed by mankind for thousands of years. It’s popularity has paralleled or even been an important part of both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda medicine (in the form of Ayurvedic Teas). Sorting out the claims, which ones have validity and which do not, however, is a very tricky situation, and in many cases there is no hard evidence (clinical studies) to support many of the claims. They are also rather complex, so this article is focusing on only 5 things to know about tea and traditional Chinese medicine.

Click on each photo for details:

1 – Tea Drinking and Herbal Medicine Closely Linked in Chinese Culture

Tea drinking in China is said to have started around 2700 BC. It is attributed in various reports to Shen Nong, often called the Blessed Farmer. He supposedly went about bravely trying various plants to see what effect they would have on him. So when some leaves from a Camellia sinensis tree fell into his water pot boiling on an open fire, he drank the resulting infusion, survived, liked it, and went on to recommend it to others. Whether that story is true or not we don’t even want to venture to guess. However, since that time a lot has happened in how tea leaves are processed and prepared. One thing is for sure – tea drinking and herbal medicine grew up together, becoming an important part of daily Chinese life.

2 – Tea Often Used as a Base for Medicinal Blends

Green, white, and black teas are often the starting point for medicinal blends, at least for those being sold in the U.S. and other Western countries. Plants such as ginger root, lavender, ginseng root, chrysanthemum, lemongrass, saffron, rosemary, anise, and more are added to teas to boost the many supposed health benefits in the tea leaves themselves.

3 – Flavor Secondary or a Non-Issue in These Blends

Flavor is not the utmost consideration in these blends. The goal is to address various health issues, including improving blood circulations, relieving headaches, minimizing allergy symptoms, keeping you cooler, aiding digestion, and a host of others – enough to boggle the mind. However, just like the song “A Spoonful of Sugar” from the movie Mary Poppins, consideration has to be paid to the various flavors. They help you “take your medicine.” Honey, lemon, agave syrup, or other items are often used to make these infusions more palatable. But lately, more attention to the quality of the tea base is being given. Also, combinations are being made that are not only for addressing certain health issues, but also for improving flavor.

4 – Herb Flavor Varieties

Some herb flavors are quite pleasant, so much so that you might want to be careful about overdosing (and thus why people like us always say to consult your doctor – even with herbals there is too much of a good thing). Others are rather unpleasant.

Some items in the main flavor categories:

  • Sweet tasting: ginseng leaf, licorice, oryza, jujube, lyceum, walnut, lily
  • Sour tasting: alum, peony, pomegranate, red peony, rose
  • Bitter tasting: andrographis, belamcanda, coptis dictamnus, gardenia, gentiana, phellodendron, picrorrhiza, pulsatilla, sankezhen, scute, sophora (unless you’re really into herbs, you’ve probably never heard of these – they’re certainly new to us)
  • Acrid tasting: Chrysanthemum, Cinnamon, Coriander, Ginger, Magnolia flower
  • Salty tasting: Cassia, Clematis, Pumice, Sargassum, Tortoise shell, Turtle shell

5 – The Myth of Using Bad Tea as the Base

While teas that are flavored just to sell and appeal to consumers tastes may be based on ones that are lower quality, tea bases for medicinal blends should be among the best quality. And, as I stated above, the quality of the tea base is being improved to make the infusions more palatable. Here are some naturally sweet tasting teas that make good bases:

  • Fuding Silver Needle white tea – A premium tea with a fresh, sweet, mellow, and light honey taste. The most famous white tea in the world.
  • Ali Shan Oolong – A much celebrated oolong from Taiwan. Fresh and clean flavor with a creamy texture, refreshing yet rich.
  • White Peony white tea – Renowned for its refreshing character and sweet taste.
  • Sencha – A Japanese green tea with a flavor that is sweet, thick, and grassy.
  • Jin Xuan oolong – Mellow, creamy, and with a biscuit-like sweetness and cool palate-cleansing finish.
  • Longjing (Dragonwell) West Lake Green Tea – Extremely fresh, thick, long-lasting sweetness combined with beautiful, pervasive floral aroma.

Sounds good to us!

Diet Teas

Certain teas have a reputation for helping you lose weight. They claim to slim you down and tout themselves as “diet teas.” So we did a little investigation and came up with some interesting findings, including some cautions.

Some diet teas found in an online search (click on each photo for details):

Losing weight isn’t the only reason people want a slimming tea. They want something to help their digestion, keep them in shape for various activities (such as ballet and other forms of dancing, as you can see in some of the package images above), and improve their overall health. “Diet” actually refers to something broader than weight loss — it encompasses your general intake of beverages and foods. So, this makes a lot of sense. It also seems that green teas are especially trumpeted, deservedly or not, as having these benefits, as well as Wulong.

The Diet Tea Frenzy

A lot of the “diet tea” products out there are herbals, not Camellia sinensis. (These are herbal “infusions” and should be called such.) Several are touted for their various slimming effects, including as a laxative, a diuretic, or an appetite suppressant. How effective they are remains a big question, so much so that a large class-action lawsuit has been filed. The main issue seems to be that these products have not been sufficiently tested to see if they can do what the ads claim. Considering how big the diet business has grown in the past years, it is small wonder that diet teas are seen everywhere, with claims that would make P.T. Barnum blush.

From 1999 to 2004, sales of dietary supplements have grown significantly (to the multi-billion dollar level), with nearly 20% of adults (mostly elderly and non-smoking females with a college degree) being the main customers. A heightened awareness of obesity is the main reason. Small wonder with the media constantly touting headlines about it. Plus, there is a dissatisfaction with the more traditional weight loss methods coupled with a desire for quick, easy results.

The Idea of “Slimming” Teas

The idea of teas being “slimming” dates back almost to the beginning of drinking tea in China. Most of the evidence is anecdotal, that is, people saying “It works for me.” (Small wonder there’s a class-action lawsuit.) One site says: “Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has a large number of other health benefits.” The flaw: green tea has been shown by various researchers to have about the same level of antioxidants as black, oolong, white, and pu-erh teas. Another site says: “Basically, Oolong and Herbal teas cause weight loss by speeding up the metabolism with caffeine. Green tea does the same thing, but has an additional punch. It contains something called polyphenols that assist in burning stored body fat.” However, polyphenols are said to be in these other types of tea also. As for caffeine, it stimulates your brain and makes you feel perky. In fact, caffeine is added to a number of OTC remedies such as Excedrin Migraine to give you an initial “punch” to make you feel like the medicine is working faster. However, the Mayo Clinic, for one, pretty much concludes that caffeine is iffy when it comes to helping with weight loss (source). A recent article on Hubpages touts just about any tea as being good for your diet, but the author adds that Chinese tea is best (why is not explained).

The True “Slimming” Teas

Basically, the true “slimming” teas (and no this is not a cop out) are any that taste good to you. The idea is to feel satisfied by something that is delicious and low-calorie. Any tea you like (even the kind flavored with bits of fruit, flower petals, and various spices) will do the trick. You can even enjoy a cup or two with a bit of milk and sweetener (some of the stronger tasting black teas come to mind here) without worrying. In fact, a key to feeling satisfied is a small amount of fat, such as in whole milk. Just don’t overdo. The main thing is to enjoy some tea instead of sugary colas, high-calorie alcoholic beverages, or high-fat/sugar foods. True weight loss involves a change of attitude and behavior toward the foods you eat and beverages you drink.

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Additional Readings


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A Word or Two About Herbals


Herbal infusions are often called “herbal tea.” This can be rather confusing for you humans, which we teapots know all too well. Tea’s benefits, as you have see above, is different from most herbals. In fact, they are so numerous and have so many health benefits attributed to them, proven or not, that It would take a lifetime to chart them here. Instead, we have, over the years, focused on a few.

See also:

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