Preventive Health

Why You Should Drink Tea

August 10, 2011

I’m Kim.
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So I talk a lot about coffee. I love my Starbucks.

But what about tea?

Yes, I love tea too. At my house, 3 pm is definitely tea time. This is more a cultural thing than anything else, for me, having British parents and having spent two sabbaticals in the UK.

Most people have a vague sense that tea is good for you. But let’s dig into that a little.

Mountains of research link tea consumption to reduced cancer risk. Pretty much, name a kind of cancer, and tea has been shown to help prevent it.

Tea has also been demonstrated to reduce heart disease risk.

Diabetes? Yes, there are studies connecting tea intake with lower rates of diabetes.

Inflammation? Tea can help you beat it down. (read more about the anti-inflammatory diet here)

Green tea catechins have even been linked to weight loss, recently. Green tea just might increase metabolism–which is fabulous news, but the research is very young, indeed, and we’ll need to see how this one plays out.

Green tea, in particular, seems to get all the press. And I want to like it, I really do. But…I find so many green teas just taste, well, yuck. Too bitter, and overall kinda strange, like I’m drinking grass or something. I am on a hunt to find a green tea I like (and I’m narrowing in…the green tea I had when I went out for sushi last weekend was great. I had several cups and could have had more. I asked the waitress what kind of tea it was, exactly, and she said it was green tea with brown rice. So I’m looking for that. Anyone know any good sources?)

Meantime, though, how about my ordinary ol’ tea? Am I getting health benefits just from drinking my plain old orange pekoe? I know it’s not sexy and isn’t anything new. But…is it as good as green tea?

Well, looks like one confounding problem is that there are more studies on green tea than black. But, of the studies that have been done, the evidence seems to show that black tea is just as beneficial as green. We know that both green and black teas are rich sources of flavonoids. Black tea, however, has more caffeine than green does (although green tea certainly does have caffeine–something not a lot of people realize). Basically, until I find a green tea I like, I’m going to stick with my regular, boring old cup of tea.

And then there’s this: beyond the antioxidants, the catechins, the flavonoids…I think the de-stressing aspect of a nice cup of tea is significant. Is there anything more soothing? Ritual is a wonderful thing.

Want to know more? WebMD has a thorough primer on tea.

More of a coffee drinker? Check out what I’ve got to say about coffee here.

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