As a nation, we are big lovers of a good old cup of tea. No matter what the season, us brits always have a reason to put the kettle on. And the best thing about tea is that it can be served hot or cold, so it can transform from a hot comfort during the cold winter months to a refreshing cold drink during the summer. But tea isn’t just a refreshment and there has been some research that shows us that drinking tea regularly is good for your health.
Tea contains bioactive compounds called flavonoids, which work in our body by reducing oxidative damage to our cells and relieving inflammation. The type of tea you drink makes a difference as well, due to the degree of processing and the amount of polyphenols that are present. All non-herbal teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and so the amount of time that the leaves are processed for determines which type you get; green, black or oolong tea.
Green teas undergo the least processing and therefore have the most polyphenols. It is the only tea that contains the polyphenolic compounds called catechins, which is the reason why green tea holds the greatest health benefits. Research has shown possible benefits such as improving cognition, bone health, and reducing blood pressure and total cholesterol for those with high cholesterol levels. There have been claims that green tea is associated with reduced risk of cancer, however research for this is conflicting. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to trade in one of your cups of black tea for a green tea once a day!
Green tea also contains B vitamins, caffeine, some minerals and the amino acid l- theanine which is thought to give us a feeling of relaxation. To get the most out of your tea, try and brew it for longer as this releases more nutrients from the tea leaf.
Green tea may increase energy metabolism slightly, reduce fat absorption and appetite, and increase fat burning, however research has not found that it leads to any significant weight loss. When weight loss does occur, this only happens when green tea supplements also contain caffeine. When it comes to green tea supplements, caution must be taken. There have been reports of severe liver damage related to their use, which is not seen when drinks are brewed from green tea leaves. The high caffeine content can lead to trouble sleeping, anxiety, irritability and a few more trips to the bathroom than expected. So, to avoid these risks, stick to what we love the most and put the kettle on instead!