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Tea, Brew a Cup of Health and Relaxation

By Marie Oser, Managing Editor
October 13, 2017
File under: Beverages, Healthy Eating, Natural Remedies, Superfoods, Vegan

The health benefits in a warm steeped mug of tea, whether herbal or caffeinated have been celebrated for thousands of years. There are four main types of tea: black, green, oolong and white tea, which come from the same plant, but are processed differently.

The history of tea is long and complex reaching across multiple cultures and spanning thousands of years. Tea is thought to have originated in southwest China during the Shang dynasty (1766 to 1122 BC) as a therapeutic beverage.1

Drinking green tea  originated as medicine and has grown to become the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. These days, tea drinking can be quite the adventure with an amazing range of choices.

Tea appears to have antimicrobial qualities2 and studies have found some teas help lower cholesterol,3 fight cancer,4 diabetes5 and heart disease6, promote weight loss7 and encourage mental alertness.

It has been demonstrated that drinking tea can help prevent the blindness caused by cataracts characterized by the clouding of the lens inside the eye.8

According to John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y., tea has about eight to ten times the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables.

Relaxing with a cup of tea is universally considered a calming antidote to stress and there  is science to back that up.

A 2006 study found that drinking four cups of tea daily caused cortisol levels to drop.9 Black tea has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation most effectively.10

Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone.  Tea consumption was found in both studies to reduce the impact of cortisol, slowing the aging process and assisting in weight control.

Herbal teas, called tisanes are infusions from plants, fruits and spices and not from the traditional tea plant. Naturally caffeine-free herbal teas are made from leaves, but also can include seeds, flowers or roots and even fungi.

Drinking water is essential for replacing fluids in the body and drinking tea replaces those fluids and imparts numerous health benefits.

Marie Oser is a best-selling author, writer/producer and host of VegTV. Her latest book is The Skinny on Soy.  Follow Marie on Facebook and Twitter

1. The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide. Random House. M.L. Heiss; R.J. Heiss ©2011. .p. 31. ISBN 978-1-60774-172-5.

2. Mikio Nakayama et al. Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus, Antiviral Research, Vol. 68, No. 2, Nov. 2005, pp. 66-74.

3. Anqi Zhang, Ping Tim Chan, Yan Shun Luk, Walter Kwok^Keung Ho, Zhen-Yu Chen Inhibitory effect of jasmine green tea epicatechin isomers on LDL-oxidation. Volume 8, Issue 6, June 1997, Pages 334–340

4. Sun CL, Yuan JM, Koh WP, Yu MC. Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Carcinogenesis. 2006 Jul;27(7):1310-5.

5. Liu K, Zhou R, Wang B, Chen K, Shi LY, Zhu JD, Mi MT. Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials. m J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;98(2):340-8.

6. Fujita H, Yamagami T. Antihypercholesterolemic effect of Chinese black tea extract in human subjects with borderline hypercholesterolemia. Nutr Res. 2008 Jul;28(7):450-6.

7. Tomonori Nagao, Tadashi Hase, Ichiro Tokimitsu. A Green Tea Extract High in Catechins Reduces Body Fat and Cardiovascular Risks in Humans. Obesity, Volume 15, Issue 6, pages 1473–1483, June 2007

8. Thiagarajan G, Chandani S, Sundari CS, Rao SH, Kulkarni AV, Balasubramanian D. Antioxidant properties of green and black tea, and their potential ability to retard the progression of eye lens cataract. Exp Eye Res. 2001 Sep;73(3):393-401.

9. Steptoe A, Gibson EL, Vuononvirta R, Williams ED, Hamer M, Rycroft JA, Erusalimsky JD, Wardle J. The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007 Jan;190(1):81-9. Epub 2006 Sep 30.

10. The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial , Psychopharmacology, Vol. 190, No. 1, Jan. 2007.

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