The Health Benefits of Tea

Rolling Tea Fields in the Mountains of Fuding China.

Tea Fields of Fuding China – Home of White Tea

Drinking tea is good for you. That’s a fact, right? Flip open a health magazine and you’re guaranteed to find at least one article touting the health benefits of regular tea consumption. But what exactly is it that makes tea so healthy? What kind of tea gives you the most benefits, and how much do you need to drink to get them? Unfortunately, common as these notions are, much of the time they are based on claims that are vague at best and sometimes outright misinformed.

But the good news is, the scientific findings that we do have on the health benefits of tea are extremely promising. Tea is rich in polyphenols, a class of micronutrient with a host of antioxidant, tannic, and other beneficial properties.1 Research has found that many of these polyphenols, particularly flavonoid catechins, show anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and antioxidant effects.2 Flavonoids are also useful as an immune system booster, strengthening infection-fighting cells.1 Epidemiological studies in Saitama, Japan, suggest that regular consumption of flavonoid-rich teas can act as a cancer preventative and possibly help inhibit cancer recurrence after treatment.3

Additionally, other studies have shown that regular tea consumption can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and repress angiotensin, a hormone that can cause high blood pressure.2 Tea is also naturally enriched by small amounts of fluoride, which can improve both bone strength and density and protect against cartilage wear.2 The list goes on and on – quite simply, the more we study it, the more we find reason to make tea-drinking a habit.

Of course, with all the powerful benefits that tea has to offer, it stands to reason that frequent consumption of it can cause other health changes as well. Tea can occasionally interact with certain medications or preexisting conditions, so consult with your doctor before beginning an increased tea regimen.2 As always, it is important to carefully research significant changes in diet and ascertain that the health benefits are appropriate for your own situation.

Ceremonial Grade Matcha Powder

Ceremonial Grade Matcha Powder

But what sort of tea should we drink to get these benefits? Since all tea comes from Camellia sinensis, every type of tea is going to offer at least some health advantages. Multiple studies, however, have found that green tea possesses the highest concentration of flavonoids and other positive polyphenols.1 And of all the green teas, Japanese matcha is most nutritious of all, as the drinker is consuming the powdered form of the tea leaf itself, rather than just its infusion.

Scientists also recommend that green tea is most beneficial when brewed fresh, and recommend at least 3-4 cups a day to intake enough polyphenols to impact health.2 So if you’re looking to incorporate a new healthy habit into your lifestyle this year, why not add a few cups of green tea into your routine? It’s an easy – and delicious – way to do something good for yourself.

For more on tea and health be sure to read our other posts on the subject.

 

Sources:

  1. Sinija, H., & Mishra, H. (2009). Green Tea: Health Benefits. Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 232-242.
  2. Chatterjee, A., Saluja, M., Agarwal, G., & Alam, M. (2012). Green Tea: A boon for periodontal and general health. Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, 161-167.
  3. Fujiki, H. (2005). Green tea: Health benefits as cancer preventive for humans. The Chemical Record, 119-132.

By: Jen Coate

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Tea for Fasting or Ketosis

Buddha

Future Buddha, Emei Lake, Hsinchu County, Taiwan

This post is something of a departure from most of our others where we focus on history, culture, and simply great tea. But intermittent fasting, longer fasts, and a ketogenic or low-carb high fat (lchf) lifestyle is something we (the owners of Dominion Tea) have adopted and seen great personal benefit from. We are very focused on how to maximize our health over our entire lifespan and see this lifestyle as part of how we do this. So many modern ill’s today (heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and potentially even cancer) have roots in the standard American diet.

We’ve made significant changes to our lifestyle over the past 18 months and are more convinced than ever that real food is critical to the prevention of many, perhaps even most modern illnesses. Real food is ideally nothing heavily processed nor has much of an ingredient list. Most of the time it doesn’t event come from a package!

This gets us to the point of this post. Tea is widely accepted within the keto/lchf community as a support for those doing intermittent fasting or even prolonged fasts. This isn’t anything new though. Some of the earliest associations of tea and fasting come from Buddhism. Monks during the Han (206 BCE – 220 CE) and Song Dynasties(960 – 1279 CE) would have tea to support meditation (Buddhism and Tea). Buddha even recommended intermittent fasting and one meal a day to his followers, with nothing consumed after noon (Food & Insight).

Real tea has caffeine which some can’t live without and has been found to suppress hunger in some people. Tisanes have no caffeine but can also provide something to hold one over during fasts. Either option is a great tool to support an overall keto/lchf lifestyle which may or may not include some fasting.

What really bothers us though are the “keto teas”. They go along with the keto bars, keto deserts, and other “keto” products that marketers are coming up with to sell products you really don’t need. So keto teas, for the most part, are really nothing more than simply tea having some added ingredients that may have beneficial qualities — though these claims usually lack strong evidence or require amounts far in excess of what’s in the tea itself. Worse still are products manufactured as “ready-to-drink” or tea “crystals” that have been heavily processed to effectively make an instant tea product.

Looking for a great tea to compliment your keto lifestyle? All you need is a great quality tea with a flavor you like. We prefer green teas and herbal/tisanes during fasting.

Green Tea Suggestions for Keto

  • Ginger Biscuits – Organic Green Tea, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Lemon Grass, Organic Lemon Mytle
  • Hundred Year Tea – Organic Green Tea, Organic Schisandra Berries, Organic Goji Berry, Organic Astragalus, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Licorice
  • Jasmine Green Tea – Organic Green Tea with Jasmine
  • Moroccan Mint – Organic Jasmine Green Tea, Organic Peppermint
  • Matcha Infused Sencha – Organic Japanese Sencha Green Tea, Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea
  • Sencha – Organic Japanese Sencha Asamushi Green Tea

Herbal/Tisane Suggestions for Keto

  • Amber Mint – Organic Rooibos, Organic Peppermint, Organic Orange Peel, and Safflower Petals
  • Ginger Honeybush – Organic Lemon Myrtle, Organic Goji Berry, Organic Honeybush, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Fennel Seed, Organic Lemon Grass
  • Lavender Dreams – Organic Lavender, Organic Raspberry Leaf, Organic Blackberry Leaf, Organic Chamomile, Organic Licorice Root, Organic Lemon Myrtle, and Organic Peppermint
  • Martha’s Mint – Organic Peppermint, Organic Spearmint
  • Moroccan Nights – Organic Rose Buds and Petals, Jasmine Flowers, Organic Spearmint Leaf
  • South African Chai – Organic Cinnamon, South African Organic Rooibos, South African Organic Honeybush, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Cardamom Seed, Organic Fennel, Organic Clove, Organic Star Anise, Organic Peppermint, and Organic Black Pepper
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Stress Reduction and Tea

We could all use a way to reduce stress created from modern life.

We’re tempted to say that those in our area, the Metro Washington DC region, could all use an excuse to destress. But really, the DMV doesn’t have a monopoly on stress right? High stress has been linked to all kinds of health issues and occurs globally. One paper suggests that, globally, 500 million people are stressed but don’t realize it and aren’t getting help (Stress, work and mental health: a global perspective, PubMed). This paper suggest that, among other causes, stress comes from rapid social changes and the time-compression of modern life.

Regardless of its cause, enjoying tea can be a great way to reduce stress in your life. Here are just a few of our thoughts on how to incorporate tea into activities to reduce stress.

  • Sit down to appreciate one cup of tea every morning. Don’t just grab a travel mug and run out the door. Instead, deliberately think about the tea you want that morning, take time to smell the dry leaf and try to pick out the different aromas. After steeping, inhale deeply the aroma of the infused leaf (stick your nose right into the infuser basket) and again think about the aromas that come to mind. Finally, sit, don’t stand, and enjoy the first mug of tea. Whatever you do, don’t turn on the TV, radio, or read the news online until after that first cup.
  • Have a tea party with friends and family. Grab a tea pot, make a large batch of something special but make an experience of it. Put the loose tea in a small bowl and pass around for everyone to smell before infusing. Once you have finished infusing don’t just toss the leaf. Consider pouring the leaf into the same small bowl and pass around for all to inhale the fresh brewed leaf.
  • Curl up with a good book and a pot of tea. Not sure anything else needs to be said really. Just a good tea and a book that is a bit of an escape goes a long way (step away from your phone).
  • If you really want to go the extra mile, pick up a tea tray, small cups, and a gaiwan or yixing teapot and prepare something special. Making tea in this way produces many small infusions, shared in small cups. It takes a bit of time, intentionally, and allows for appreciation of both tea and company (or family).

Don’t miss the entire series on tea and your health!

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Healthy Lifestyles Include Tea

Harmony through tea!This is kinda a self-serving statement, isn’t it? In all seriousness, a healthy lifestyle can certainly be made up of many different things and tea doesn’t need to be one of them. That said, we believe there are way too many artificial products (not real food) on the market, too much emphasis on miracle diets and cures, and we could all do with a bit of simplification. So we eat our own dog food, so to speak, or at least drink our own tea. In prior posts we’ve focused on other aspects of tea and your health including all the amazing micronutrients in tea so this one is short and sweet. Here are some of our thoughts on how tea fits in with a healthy lifestyle:

  • Morning cup (or three) of tea of course. But we like lots of variety so we don’t stick to one type of tea every day. We like to mix it up so sometimes that means green, sometimes black, puerh, or really whatever we are in the mood for.
  • To-go thermos of tea for our son to take to school. We remember the days when you had water from the fountain or milk at lunch and that’s it. No more – even elementary school kids bring a thermos with something – ours likes his morning Sencha.
  • We switch to caffeine free tisanes (herbals) mid-day or, shocking we know, water. We just sleep better by cutting out the caffeine by midday, even if the caffeine in tea is less jolting.
  • We love iced tea in summer. Technically we do cold brew. Throw some leaf into a jug of water at night, place in the fridge, and viola, fresh iced tea for the family in the morning.
  • We stop and smell the roses on the weekends. Meaning, this is when we tend to pull out the special teas we want to enjoy like Japanese Gyokuro, fresh Tieguanyin (in season), or a rare puerh from Yunnan China and to enjoy using traditional teaware. Yes, this takes more time, but it is great way to use your tea to slow down and enjoy the moment.
  • Finally, cooking with tea! This is always a fun way to explore in our house with everyone getting a chance to taste, compare notes, and decide if its something we would make again.

Don’t miss the entire series on tea and your health!

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Tea is Full of Amazing Micronutrients

Surely you’ve heard it. Tea is healthy for you – especially green tea! We hear it said all the time in our shop and of course we think it is for many reasons. Talking tea and health can be a slippery slope so we tend to avoid it. That said, in this post we are going to add just a tiny bit more to consider with respect to compounds found in tea, what they are thought to help with, and links to sources you may wish to explore.

So here are just a few of those micronutrients:

  • Caffeine (of course) – All tea from camellia sinensis (even decaffeinated) has some amount of caffeine in it. Caffeine is a stimulant and helps to wake us up in the morning and get us going. While research on benefits and risks of caffeine are ongoing we can’t deny that caffeine gives us a boost of energy.
  • L-theanine – We’ve written about this before ( Is caffeine from tea less jolting? ) but the long and short is there is a good bit of research, which we cite in the blog, around the moderating effect L-theanine has on caffeine in tea. It’s the same caffeine found in any other product but the L-theanine seems to moderate its effects for a more stable alertness. The monks of China and Japan have known this for centuries. ( The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness – PubMed Central )
  • Catechins, a Polyphenol (green tea) – A family of compounds found in green tea, primarily EGCG, which are thought to contribute to the significant antioxidant qualities of tea. ( Beneficial Effects of Green Tea:  A Literature Review – PubMed Central )
  • Thearubigens and Theaflavins, Oxidized Polyphenols (black tea) – As tea leaves are processed into what becomes black tea, the polyphenols themselves are transformed into theaflavins and thearubigens. Both are thought to have strong antioxident properties, like catechins, though in the case of thearubigens it seems a lot more study is needed to really understand these. ( Theaflavins in Black Tea and Catechins in Green Tea Are Equally Effective Antioxidants – Journal of Nutirition and Green tea composition, consumption, and polyphenol chemistry – PubMed Central )
  • Tannins, a Polyphenol – Found in both green and black tea, tannins are really very similar to catechins, though not as concentrated. They too are considered to have strong antioxidative qualities and are also what brings out bitterness in tea if its steeped too long. Among other things some research points to possibly being beneficial to dental and oral health. ( Oolong Tea and Health Benefits – Tea Research and Extension Station, Taiwan )
  • GABA – Research seems to suggest that GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric Acid) may be beneficial for reducing stress, depression, and enhancing sleep ( Improvement of Antioxidant Defences and Mood Status by Oral GABA Tea Administration in a Mouse Model of Post-Stroke Depression – PubMed Central ). In Japan and Taiwan some tea growers are specifically using a process to produce and market a high GABA tea, though this area likely needs quite a bit more study.

For a nice summary chart on the compounds in green tea, as well as everything you could want to know about Japanese Green Tease have a look at Let’s Enjoy Nihon Cha (Japanese Tea) from the Japan Tea Industry Association.

We eagerly devour scientific, peer reviewed, studies of a statistically meaningful sample size, where tea is part of a healthy lifestyle. That said, our focus has been and remains on learning all we can about tea, where it comes from, the people who make it, the cultures it has impacted, and the trade it has spawned. That’s why we offer a wide variety of teas on our website and in-store. It’s why we offer flights to feed the curiosity of our guests, and we try to keep adding new tea experiences. And finally, it’s why we travel to meet our suppliers and import directly, so that we can offer our customers the best experiences and knowledge to support a healthy tea habit.

In closing we leave you with a quote from Tea and Health: Studies in Humans in PubMed Central:

Large scale well-controlled human clinical trials are necessary to establish the health promoting effects of tea consumption. Only based on these findings, recommendations to human population could be made.

(Note: we have zero medical background so consider these interesting reads but not definitive — talk to your doctor).

Don’t miss the entire series on tea and your health!

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