Is Drinking Tea Healthy?
Often cited as one of the healthiest drinks around, we wanted to share our thoughts on the health benefits of drinking tea. Although we are experts on tea, we are not doctors. Our motivations for drinking tea are led by the fulfillment, interest and satisfaction that can be found in the rich and wide range of high quality tastes and textures that single garden tea provides, and by the calm focus state of mind that a simple tea ceremony can offer. There is evidence behind the chemical health benefits of tea, however its full effects are not yet confirmed.
W H A T D O W E K N O W ?
A cup of tea comes from the very simple process of drying (or reducing the moisture content) of the fresh leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and then infusing them in water. Therefore, in its purest form, tea is a completely natural drink that is majority water. This means that a cup of tea will always be hydrating.
The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant contain plant-based compounds called catechins. The type of catechin that ends up in your cup of tea depends on the process that has been used to dry the leaves. Fundamentally, whether the leaves have been allowed to oxidise before being fully dried.
D I D Y O U K N O W ?
The processing of green tea does not allow for any oxidation to happen. This means that the main catechin remains as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant that is known to stabilise free radicals in cells and is also anti-inflammatory.
Matcha is a stone-ground green tea. Once it is ground, the powder is whisked and suspended in water. This means the tea leaves are ingested, unlike in a regular infusion, so matcha teas contain significantly higher concentrations of caffeine and antioxidants.
Black tea is characterised by being fully oxidised. During the processing of black tea, the leaves are rolled in a way that the epidermis of the leaf breaks and allows oxygen in. The oxygen then reacts with the catechins facilitated by enzymes in the leaf and we know that during this process, EGCG changes and becomes thearubigin which is believed to also have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Caffeine & L-Theanine
The calm focus effect that tea provides comes from the unique combination of two amino acids that are naturally occurring in tea: caffeine and L-theanine.
Caffeine is a natural plant pesticide – the caffeine compound tastes bitter when eaten and so deters potential predators (insects and birds) from eating the buds and young plant leaves. When consumed, caffeine is a stimulant for our central nervous system as it blocks the activation of the sleep hormone, adenosine.
L-theanine, is understood to firstly have calming benefits, and secondly to slow down the release of caffeine into the blood stream. This means that when they work together, the combination of caffeine and L-theanine are believed to give a cup of tea its unique ability to simultaneously stimulate and relax its drinker.
Around the world, ancient cultures have recognised the mental benefits of drinking tea for millennia. It is the calm focus effect that has enabled tea to be used throughout meditation rituals in Buddhist temples across the mountains of the Himalaya, through China’s Jing Mountains and the Zen gardens of Japan.
In our modern world, we know that taking the time to prepare loose tea can create a simple moment of ceremony. Our tea recipes have a three to five-minute infusion time. Whilst the tea is infusing, we have the opportunity to take a few minutes to focus on watching the leaves unfurl – seemingly dancing around the pot – and the colour of the infusion develop. This is an increasingly rare opportunity to pause, and taking this moment will have a calming effect and create a connection with the natural product that you are about to consume.
In summary, we believe that all tea is healthy, and setting aside time each day to drink a range of teas should have a positive effect on your mind and body.