Tea & Health
Though an incredibly healthy beverage, tea is often disingenuously touted as a wonder cure-all for many of the maladies which plague humankind. It is not. Nevertheless, here we present an account of some current research and its findings, all of which indicate that drinking tea is healthy and does show promise in many areas.
NOTE: When referring to "tea", we are speaking of the plant “camellia sinensis” and its parts. The following pages are a compilation of material we have gathered regarding tea and the human body. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. For in-depth information, we encourage you to visit the sites we referenced: teahealth.co.uk and webmd.com.
Free radicals are key in the development of degenerative conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Antioxidants, which are present in tea, are compounds that locate harmful free radical molecules in the body and detoxify them, reducing their production, and removing key elements necessary for their performance.
Polyphenols, a category of antioxidants found in tea and represented most commonly as flavonoids, constitute up to 15% of dry leaf weight. Though flavonoids appear in equal amounts in both green and black teas, they are manifest differently in each. Their counts can be tenfold of that found in fruits and vegetables. Although some findings are conflicting, the majority of current research indicates that antioxidants introduced into the body by drinking tea are beneficial and bolster the body against ailments common to aging.
And finally, though evidence has not been conclusive, in conjunction with proper eating habits and exercise, tea can have a positive impact on the body in general. As a precaution, those with the below conditions may want to speak with their physician before consuming more than moderate amounts of tea:
- heart problems or high blood pressure,
- kidney disease,
- an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism),
- an anxiety or nervous disorder,
- a bleeding or blood-clotting disorder, or
- if you take blood-thinning medication.
About Tea and Caffeine
The caffeine in tea is chemically identical to the caffeine found in coffee. On average, however, tea contains less caffeine than coffee. Research has recently emerged regarding caffeine levels in tea with findings are contradictory to the commonly accepted information that has been used by the tea industry for decades. Until now, it had been believed that white teas have the lowest levels of caffeine and black teas have the highest. However, recent findings from Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, show in laboratory tests that white teas are shown to have nearly as much caffeine as black. Additionally, oolongs teas were shown to have the lowest levels of caffeine. Information regarding caffeine and health benefits in tea has seen many changes in the last five years and we assume that it will continue to evolve in the years ahead. We at The Jasmine Pearl continue to strive to keep our customers informed of the latest research in these areas.
Tea and Alzheimer's
Though tea-drinking nations do not show lower incidences of Alzheimer’s disease, a British study indicates that black and green teas interfere with or stop the actions of three chemicals associated with the disease. The first chemical, acetylcholinesterase, is known to cause a breakdown in components which move and process information in the brain. The other two, butylcholinesterase and beta-secretase, are key in the formation of tangles of protein found in the brains of Alzheimer’s victims. Green tea inhibits actions of acetylcholinesterase, butyrylcholinesterase, and betasecretase, while black tea stops only the second two chemicals.
Tea and Cancer Prevention
There is a mass of information available regarding tea and cancer prevention. For reasons of brevity, we include only highlights here:
- Drinking four or more cups per day may reduce cell damage in smokers.
- In tea-drinking men, prostate cancer growth may be inhibited.
- Tea polyphenols have been shown to kill breast cancer cells.
- Cancer risk in the urinary & digestive tracts, mouth, and esophagus is apparently greatly reduced by consuming especially green tea.
Tea and Heart Health
Drinking tea may reduce risk of hypertension, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, and kidney dysfunction. Apparently, one of tea’s healthful benefits is an improvement in the functioning of endothelial cells, which are the cells that line blood vessels and regulate blood flow. Restricted functioning of these cells can lead to hardening of the arterties. In those who drink tea regularly, measured benefits are of sustained duration, while short-term drinkers experience benefits up to two hours after drinking tea. In a Japanese study, an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol counts has been noted in tea drinkers, while LDL (“bad”) cholesterol demonstrated a reduction in count.