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Tea – the original health drink?

Written by check out here Robert Verkerk

So, is tea drinking good for you? As is so often the case when it comes interpreting the health sciences and the benefits, or risks, of natural products, consensus isn’t easy to come by.

Have you had your cup of matcha or green tea this morning? Or perhaps you’re on your sixth for the day — delighting in the benefits of washing all those catechins, flavonoids and other polyphenols through your body at regular intervals? Or you’ve gone down the black tea or ‘builder’s’ brew route… contributing to the 165 million cups of tea consumed daily in Britain alone?

Is tea drinking good for you?

Matcha

So, is tea drinking good for you? As is so often the case when it comes interpreting the health sciences and the benefits, or risks, of natural products, consensus isn’t easy to come by. Tea drinking is no exception. There are a multitude of reasons for the discrepancies in view, among them: the results from different studies are often inconsistent and don’t always show benefits; the natural products under investigation are often not sufficiently well characterised to allow meaningful comparisons to be made; different population groups experience different benefits and risks; there are discrepancies between the findings from lab studies versus those on human populations, and, last but not least; there are simply not enough high quality human studies covering the gamut of effects that different teas can have on the body.

Despite this seeming quagmire of evidence, conflicting results and divided opinion on tea drinking, there is some key information that can be teased out. This article serves to address some of the key questions relevant to tea drinkers, including: how and why tea drinking can help to keep you healthy, which teas might be better for you than others, and when and how much tea you should consider drinking daily?

To avoid any confusion, all references to tea in this article refer to use of the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Both green tea and black tea come from leaves of the same plant, although different parts of the leaves are used for different teas, and post-harvest treatment can vary hugely. Green tea is not fermented; the leaves are simply withered and steamed before being dried. Black and oolong teas are both crushed and fermented in various ways. Matcha is simply a powdered green tea, so instead of only benefiting from the compounds that are infused into water during the brewing process, the powdered tea is consumed in its entirety, so increasing the amount of beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and amino acids consumed in a given volume of tea.

Robert Verkerk is a leading scientist in the healthcare field and is the founder of the Alliance for Natural Health.

Robert is an internationally acclaimed scientist with over 25 years experience in the field of agricultural and healthcare sustainability, having worked in academia, industry and the not-for-profit sector. He has worked extensively in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas as well as Europe. After leaving Imperial College London in 2002, he founded the Alliance for Natural Health, which he has headed since.

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