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The Health Benefits of Tea and Tisanes

The Health Benefits of Tea and Tisanes

January 16, 2019

by Hayden Moore


Introduction


What is tea? Is tea healthy? Is tea nutritious? We will be examining the health benefits of both tea and tisanes. We will take a look at some of the unique health properties found in both and talk about their specific effects on the body.


Before proceeding further, I want to clarify the difference between tea and tisanes, so you have a clear understanding that they are not in fact one and the same; although, they are often blended together to make a delicious beverage.


Tea consists of the a plant known as camellia sinensis or camellia assamica. Although there are some genetic differences between camellia sinensis and camellia assamica, they are negligible. These plants are used to make a variety of teas such as: green tea, black tea, oolong, white tea and yellow tea.


Tisanes create a tea-like beverages that do not contain camellia sinensis or camellia assamica. Tisanes may consist of a variety of herbal ingredients which can be used to brew a tea-like beverage and include ingredients such as: mint, rooibos, chamomile, etc.


Health Benefits of Tea


Polyphenols

Polyphenols are a phytochemical substance known for their antioxidant properties found in all tea. It is important to think of polyphenols as a type of chemical compound of which there are different subcategories. It is believed there are higher concentrated amount of polyphenols in green and white tea because green and white tea undergo less oxidation. When tea is oxidized, such as black tea, simple or smaller polyphenols convert into longer and more complex polyphenol molecules, so while there are less of them, they are longer on a molecular level. These larger molecules are what give black tea its reddish dark color. The polyphenol content found in tea is about 8-10 times more than that of fruits and vegetables.


What function do polyphenols play in health? Polyphenols fight free radicals. Free radicals are oxidized cells that change DNA and can cause cancer. Oxidants or free radicals steal electrons from other molecules in the body and can damage the cells so much that they actually change the DNA aberration. Antioxidants bond to free radicals and inhibit the reaction that causes cellular damage and can even repair DNA damage. Brewed green tea consists of about 30-40% polyphenols by weight and is one of the best sources of polyphenols you will find.  


EGCG

EGCG, short for epigallocatechin is one of the polyphenols found in tea. EGCG is antimicrobial and is the most effective polyphenols found in tea at attacking bacteria cell walls. Studies have found that drinking 5-6 cups of green tea per day or taking 200 mg of EGCG has significant anti-cancer effects. Drinking 5-6 cups a day of green tea has been shown in studies to significantly maintain cardiovascular and and metabolic health. It has also been shown to be particularly useful for those at risk of heart disease and those with type 2 diabetes. Recent studies show that EGCG is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times more effective than vitamin E in protecting damage to DNA linked to cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses. EGCG has also been shown to reduce the buildup of plaques in the brain which cause cell death and is responsible for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  


L-Theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid that naturally occurs only in tea. L-theanine is known to boost brain wave activity, which in turn produces a relaxed state of concentration and reduced stress. L-theanine may also offer benefits that extend much further than mood improvement, such as an enhanced immune system and lower blood pressure. L-theanine has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier. Its ability to do this has shown in scientific research to actually increase the production of serotonin, dopamine and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer which helps with sleeping, eating and digestion. Serotonin helps reduce anxiety and depression, heal wounds and create bone health. Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that is released in activities such as sex and eating food and is associated with a sense of well-being. GABA is a neurotransmitter and amino acid that helps induce sleep and relaxation.


In addition to health benefits, L-theanine has great flavor benefits. The taste is often described: umami, savory, fresh and lively. L-theanine gives green tea the characteristic sweet taste which counteracts astringency.    


Tea has caffeine which causes alertness, but can also cause cause anxiety or an inability to sleep or relax. L-theanine counteracts caffeine in the sense that it brings relaxation and a calming effect to the body.  When consumed and paired with caffeine it allows you to stay mentally focused and relaxed while also feeling awake and alert.


Loose Leaf Tea vs Tea Bags

Tea bags make up an estimated 95% of tea sales in the United States and this is bad news for consumers. The first problem with drinking your typical bagged tea is that the tea leaf is unable to fully open its leaf which keeps it from allowing the flavors contained within the tea to be released. Many of these flavors contain healthy benefits which would allow the consumer to enjoy a better tasting and more healthy cup.  The second main problem with your average tea bag is that it allows the tea merchant to fill the tea bag with the lowest possible grade tea available known as “fannings” or “dust,” since tea bags allow for smaller pieces and keeps the consumers eye off of the inferior product. This tea which used to be thrown away because of its inferior taste and health benefits is now widely sold in the U.S. market. While it will color the water in your cup and add some flavor it does not produce the complex beverage with enormous health benefits that you will get from buying high quality loose leaf tea. In my experience many people who say they do not like tea have made their judgement of tea produced from inferior quality cup produced with a tea bag of low quality. With that said, some tea producers have turned to a pyramid style tea bag which allows you to see the higher quality loose tea inside and allows for more expansion of the leaves. The company I am part of, Glory Cloud Coffee, prefers to sell loose leaf tea to all consumers. When requested we prepare tea bags for you using larger tea bags (which allows for leaf expansion) and hand seals premium loose leaf teas inside so that the quality is similar to drinking loose leaf from a teapot.   


The Health Benefits of Tisanes


Rooibos

Rooibos is comprised of the wild growing Aspalathus Linearis plant which is native to South Africa. Research shows that the antioxidants found in rooibos have antiinflamitory, antiviral, antiallergic, antispasmodic and antimutagetic properties. The polyphenols found in rooibos reduce the number of chromosome aberrations, inhibit tumor growth, inhibit tumor growth, dissolve cholesterol, and improves general health by increasing energy and boosting the body’s immune system. The antioxidants in rooibos protect the heart from cholesterol buildup.


Rooibos also has a high nutrient content. Check out the chart below for more specifics.


7 oz (200ml) of Brewed Rooibos Contains The Following Nutrients:

Iron (Fe)

0.07 mg

Potassium (K)

7.12 mg

Calcium (Ca)

1.09 mg

Zinc (Zn)

1.04 mg

Magnesium (Mg)

1.57 mg

Fluoride (F)

0.22 mg

Manganese (Mn)

0.04 mg

Sodium (Na)

6.16 mg

Copper (Cu)

0.07 mg


Rooibos is naturally refreshing, hot or cold, and is great at restoring the body’s equilibrium, especially after a vigorous workout.


Peppermint

Peppermint is one of the most consumed ingredients in tisanes and the peppermint oil derived from brewing the leaves has been found to be highly beneficial to health. In laboratory studies peppermint has been found to have significant antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It has been found to contain antioxidants and to have some antiallergic properties as well. Peppermint has also been shown to reduce gastrointestinal issues in animals; although, studies on human patients are limited.


Chamomile

Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. With more than 1 million cups consumed around the world each day chamomile tea is used to treat human ailments such as: hay fever, inflammation, ulcers, insomnia, gastrointestinal pain and rheumatic pain. Chamomile, like tea, is full of antioxidants that help the body protect against free radicals. Chamomile is often used in anti-aging cosmetics and is known to tighten the pores and accelerate tissue regeneration. For those who suffer from dandruff, chamomile is known to reduce itchy and flaky scalps as well. Chamomile has relaxing properties and is great to drink when under stress or when it is time to sleep.

 

Conclusion


The health benefits of tea and tisanes are far reaching. They help fight free radicals, prevent cancer and keep the body in a state of homeostasis, amongst other things. Although the FDA does not currently allow tea and tisanes to be prescribed for medicinal use there is enough scientific and medical research to back up the health claims of tea and its use of preventing and fighting human ailments. In concluding, I want to also point out that the substitution of tea or tisanes in ones daily habits could produce even greater value. Drinks like soda and diet soda are full of unhealthy chemicals. By regularly substituting tea with unhealthy beverages you not only gain the benefits of tea but reduce the amount of unhealthy chemicals you consume. Tea and tisanes are naturally sweet, complex and full of amazing flavor, so it is my hope that through tea education and tea tastings more of my community will find a new passion in both tea and tisanes and reap both the taste and health benefits of these amazing beverages.



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