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Tea – A Powerful Cup of “Healing”

"Pssst, wanna buy a “drink” that can help prevent cancer of the skin, lung, stomach, colon, liver, breast and pancreas. Prevent tooth cavity, heart disease and strokes?” “Snake Oil Salesman, Quack, and Charlatan” I hear you say! As it turns out Mr Snake Oil would be more right than wrong.

Clinical studies have shown that tea has indeed stopped tumors from forming. The risk of stroke and heart disease tumbles when you drink tea. And tea does reduce cavities.

Tea contains hundreds of compounds called polyphenols

These compounds act like anti-oxidants – that is, they help neutralise harmful oxygen molecules in the body known as free-radicals, which have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and a number of less serious problems such as “wrinkles”.

Generally speaking, polyphenols are very, very good antioxidants. But the best polyphenols are in tea, which has an abundance of them! This may go some way to explain why tea is the most popular beverage in the world!

What about the "Colour” of Tea – which is best?

Green, black, vanilla, raspberry or apricot – which has the most healing polyphenols? It doesn’t matter as long as it’s not Herbal Tea, which does not contain the leaves from the "Camellia sinensis" – the tea plant – there is very little difference between them. They are not identical however here is a quick overview.

Green Tea – is the freshest and least processed. The taste is light and subtle, appreciated by most tea drinkers in Asia and parts of North Africa.

Black Tea – with its strong hearty taste, it is Green Tea that has been fermented for about 6 hours. The fermentation turns the leaves black. It also transforms the Polyphenols in green tea into other kinds of polyphenols, like theaflavine and thearubigen which are also extremely good for you.

Getting the best from your “Cuppa”

  • “Steep three and see”

When you brew tea, it takes 3 minutes for it to release the health promoting compounds. That’s how much time the researchers use in their studies. Although longer steeping causes more compounds to be released, they tend to become bitter, and more doesn’t mean better.

  • “Bag-it”

Tea aficionados always use loose tea. No easy tea bags for them! However the pulverised contents of tea-bags actually release more polyphenols than large loose leaves. That’s because the tiny particles in the bag yield more surface area for the polyphenols to dissolve into the hot water.

  • “Pick you flavour”

Although Green Tea has been more thoroughly researched than the black variety (mainly because the first studies were done in China and Japan, where green tea is the preferred brew), both kinds show equally beneficial effects.

If you prefer decaffeinated tea, by all means drink-up. The removal of caffeine has little effect on the tea’s polyphenols content, so little is lost in the transition.

  • “Hold the Milk”

One preliminary study in Italy found that adding milk blocked tea’s antioxidant benefits. There was evidence that milk protein binds to some of the teas compounds and blocks their absorption. Those compounds could be unbound in the stomach – so not really sure on this one.

  • “Drink tea when eating meat”

Since tea’s polyphenols compounds help block the formation of cancer-causing chemicals, it is a good idea to drink tea when eating red meat.

Interesting information indeed, and there is obviously much, much more to the humble “cuppa”! I know the 6 or so cups-a-day I have, will be more ‘savoured’!

...and remember...have a fabulous retirementLIFE....

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