Tea has notable health benefits
We’ve known that for centuries that tea is good for you, and today, food scientists are discovering the exact mechanisms of that goodness. For example:
- Tea contains lots of flavonoids, which are believed to have antioxidant properties and neutralize free radicals.
- Human population studies have found that regular tea drinkers show a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and colon, stomach, and throat cancer.
- Tea drinkers tend to show a lower LDL cholesterol.
- Compared to non-tea drinkers, tea drinkers have been found to have a higher bone mineral density.
A word of caution: there have not been that many double blind studies about the health impact of tea drinking, so please take this information as guidelines, not a prescription or as medical advice. Aaron E. Carroll wrote a good article for the New York Times that summarizes the meta-studies that have been done about this subject, and here is a Healthcare Triage video that discusses the same issues.
Tea and caffeine
Tea is one of the few plants that naturally contains caffeine, but there is significantly less caffeine in tea than in many other popular drinks. Any style of tea (black, green, white, etc.) can be high or low in caffeine depending on how it is processed and how it is steeped. Using lower water temperatures and shorter brewing times will extract less caffeine from the leaf. Here are the bottom-line numbers (this data comes from CaffeineInformer and the Mayo Clinic):
|Beverage||Caffeine content (mg/cup)|
|Brewed decaffeinated coffee||2-12|
|Brewed single-serve coffee||75-150|
|Coca Cola Classic||22.5|
|Diet Coke or Coke Zero||30|
|Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee||98|
Beyond the science
That’s the science of tea and health, but it doesn’t include one of tea’s greatest health benefits. In today’s 24/7, always connected, activity-saturated atmosphere, steeping and gently drinking a cup of tea allows you a few minutes of respite – a time away from the turbulence to rest and recharge. Coffee, soda, and other instant drinks allow you to grab and go, keeping up your quick pace. Tea encourages you to slow down. It takes time to heat the water to the right temperature, wait a few minutes for the steeping, and breathe in the clean, complex aromas. In that brief time, you get to unwind, de-stress, and recharge. We could all use a bit more of that in our lives.