Tea and Health
There are hundreds of research reports on the health benefits of tea. Tea is not a quick fix or a panacea, but at TeaSource we believe drinking tea regularly will have significant long-term health benefits. Be aware, however, that we are not trained health professionals and are not qualified to dispense medicinal advice or make specific health related suggestions, (i.e. specific teas/tisanes to drink for a particular conditions). This page is intended to answer some common questions regarding tea and health, as well as provide resources to explore these areas on your own or with your doctor.
Keep in mind that research on tea health benefits refer only to true tea, which comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. This does not include herbals/tisanes that come from different plants, each with its own unique properties and impacts on the body.
Tea and Weight Loss
There are a few studies that show green tea may increase human metabolism, meaning that the body will burn more calories. At this time, there has not been much research done to support this claim.
The "Healthiest" Tea
The healthiest tea for you is the tea you like the most, because you will drink a lot of it. Don't approach tea as something you are drinking because it is "good for you." We suggest that you simply find teas you enjoy and drink a lot of them. That way, you get all the health benefits without even thinking about it.
Green Tea vs. Black Tea
All tea comes from the same plant, so all true tea is made up of similar chemicals. There are studies that indicate that certain types of green tea are more effective as a cancer preventative. Other studies say that black tea is the most effective as a preventative for heart disease. However, these studies usually show that other teas were also effective. The bottom line is that all true tea (from the Camellia Sinensis plant) actively promotes good health.
Tea and Tannic Acid
Tea does not contain tannic acid, a compound found in tree bark used in tanning leather. Rather, tea contains large molecules called polyphenols that act as antioxidants (known for cancer fighting abilities). Common types of polyphenols in tea include catechins, flavenoids, and tannins. Note: Tannins are completely different from tannic acid; they are not the same.
Tea and Caffeine
The subject of tea and caffeine is very complex and often misunderstood. Below are some basic facts about tea and caffeine.
Since all true tea comes from the same plant, all tea contains caffeine. The amount of caffeine in the steeped cup can be affected by many factors (soil chemistry, weather, growing conditions, leaf size, etc. For this reason, it is difficult to make generalizations regarding the amount of caffeine in any particular tea. One thing for certain is that tea has much less caffeine than coffee, often at least 50% less.
The category of tea (black, oolong, green, white, puerh, or dark) does not determine the caffeine content. Contrary to popular belief, green and white teas do not necessarily contain less caffeine than black tea.
Two factors that affect the amount of caffeine in an individual cup of tea are the temperature of the water and the steeping time. Using lower water temperatures and shorter brewing times will extract less caffeine from the leaf.
Herbals (or tisanes) are drinks that are made from plants other than the camellia sinensis, such as chamomile, peppermint, and hibiscus. They are not actually tea and most do not contain caffeine.
Even "decaffeinated" teas contain some caffeine. After undergoing the decaffeination process, teas may contain up to 1/2 of one percent of caffeine by weight.
In the past, it was believed that 80%-90% of the caffeine in tea can be removed by steeping the leaves for 30-45 seconds, discarding the liquor, and re-steeping. While it is true that this method will remove some of the caffeine, a more accurate estimate of the amount of caffeine that will be removed is between 20% and 50%.
Caffeine and the Body
Reactions to caffeine vary greatly from one person to the next. Some people are very sensitive to caffeine and others are not. Reactions may also vary due to the source of the caffeine, such as tea vs. coffee.
The human body processes the caffeine in tea in a different manner than the caffeine in coffee. Thus, people will not necessarily react to tea in the same way they react to coffee. In addition, tea contains a unique chemical called L-theanine, which has natural calming effects. This allows some people the ability to drink tea late at night and still fall asleep quickly and easily.