It’s a better alternative to calorie-rich drinks and snacks.
In our shop, we get a lot of questions about healthy tea is. At Good Life Tea, we try to downplay the health angle, and focus more on taste. This is partially because we don’t want to come across that that weird hippie shop that will recommend you herbs for all of your various ills, and partially because we can’t really confirm too much about how healthy tea is, and don’t want to be sued for making claims that later turn out to be untrue. This post covers what we can absolutely guarantee about the health effects of tea, and a little bit of speculation into whether or not it prevents cancer. Not much. But a little.
A cup of tea has about 2 calories, which is comparable to a stick of gum. A 12-ounce can of coke has about 150 calories, which is comparable to half a cup of cheese tortellinis. An 8-ounce glass of orange juice has about 100 calories, which is comparable to ⅓ of a cup of cheese tortellinis.
In addition to being an alternative to other beverages, tea also makes an excellent alternative to less healthy snacks. I frequently drink Florence or Paris, which are both somewhat similar flavored teas, when what I actually want is dessert. The chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut flavors of these teas usually do the trick.
It’s less acidic than coffee
The acidity of coffee is what tends to cause that black-coffee-for-breakfast feeling. The one where you’re a little ill and your stomach is definitely unhappy with you. A high-caffeine lifestyle and a stomach full of coffee tend to only amplify one another’s effects. If you’re someone who drinks coffee because they’re under the kind of stress that gives them stomach aches, tea may be a better option. The lower acidity is kinder to your stomach, and you can mix in peppermint or ginger, which both tend to sooth a sour stomach.
Tea contains caffeine, but significantly less than coffee. Instead of relying purely of caffeine, tea contains other chemicals which are similar, but work slightly differently. Caffeine is a xanthine. Tea also contains other xanthines, such as theine and theobromine. How to pronounce these substances isn’t the important part. The important part is that these other xanthines which are like caffeine tend to have less of a crash than caffeine does, and instead leave your system slowly.
Let’s talk about L-theanine
L-theanine is an amino acid. It is only found in the camellia sinensis plant, which is a fancy way of saying tea. If you’re drinking an herbal tisane or r
ooibos, you are unfortunately not getting this amino acid. However, white tea
, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea are all made from this plant. L-theanine is the reason why tea does not cause the same distracted ji
tters that coffee does. It boosts alpha-wave activity, and in combination with the caffeine and other xanthines, creates a state of alert-calmness.
Polyphenols and antioxidants
If I haven’t lost you with all of this science yet, here’s a great deal more of it. If you’ve heard reports that coffee, wine, chocolate, blueberries, and a great deal of other delicious and indulgent foods are actually very good for you, it is likely because of the antioxidants they contain. Tea is also very high in antioxidants. Green tea has the most, and white tea has somewhat less, but even if you’re drinking a highly oxidized oolong or black tea, you’re still benefiting from these antioxidants. If you’ve heard specifically of tannins in wine, you may be pleased to know that tea has exactly the same tannins. It’s what gives both tea and wine that astringent flavor.
Antioxidants work by fighting free radicals. The science regarding this is still a little new, and chemically rather complicated, but free radicals are pretty much how aging works. They are chemical instabilities which damage cells. This can be somewhat problematic when the damage occurs to cell walls or especially to DNA. There haven’t been any conclusive, definitive connections between these free radicals and cancer yet, but science in general tends to be cautious about coming to definitive conclusions.
Beyond the chemistry of what exactly tea is, and how it interacts with your body, perhaps the most important this about tea is that it forces you so slow down. Take a moment, in the middle of your busy day at work, and brew yourself a cup of tea. Look up from your desk, and find a co-worker who may want the second steep of the leaves. Really appreciate the taste. It isn’t the chemical composition of the flowers that makes stopping to smell the roses good for you.