Drinking tea provides many health benefits (Part 2/2)

For many people, tea is a cup of life. And some women chose their man with just a cup of tea.

As somebody has said, “Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on.” And a Japanese proverb says, “If a man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.” There you go ladies, no need for a bottle of champagne.

But we have to go beyond truth and beauty and look for other benefits tea provides to the lovers – so to speak- of tea drinkers. Let us look at the content of caffeine first.

People get confused when they find out that coffee contains less caffeine than tea when measured in its dry form. But the caffeine content of a prepared cup of coffee is significantly higher than the caffeine content of a prepared cup of tea. An average serving of coffee contains the most caffeine, yet the same serving size of tea provides only half to one-third as much.

A cup of black coffee has 99 mg. of caffeine. A cup of green or black tea has 34 mg. of caffeine. Decaffeinated black tea has only 4 mg of caffeine. Adding milk to tea does not compromise its healthy benefits. Most of us can drink 10 to 12 cups of regular tea a day and stay within the 400 to 450 mg daily caffeine limit recommended by Health Canada.

Herbal tea is not considered a real tea as it is not made from Camellia sinensis which contains caffeine. So it is called herbal infusion. Herbal infusions are naturally caffeine free. If you want to avoid caffeine completely in your tea then drink herbal infusions like Chamomile, Peppermint and others.

There are some herbs which do have generally recognized benefits. For instance, rose hips contain vitamin C, chamomile helps many people relax and peppermint has a noticeable soothing effect on the stomach. Herbs can also cause problems. Chamomile, for example, can cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed.

Black and green teas have comparable health benefits. In my last column, we briefly mentioned about vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in tea. An article titled, “A thought on the biological activities of black tea” (Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 May), says black tea acts as an effective antioxidant because of its free radical-scavenging and metal-chelating ability. Some epidemiological studies support the protective role of black tea against cardiovascular diseases but some do not. The article says that although its role in cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, liver and prostate is confirmed, its effect against urinary tract cancer is uncertain.

What about health benefits of green tea? I looked at a couple of review articles. The articles highlight the chemistry of green tea, its antioxidant potential, its immune-potentiating properties and mode of action against various cancer cell lines that showed its potential as a chemo-preventive agent against colon, skin, lung, prostate and breast cancer.

Green tea contains more catechins than black tea or oolong tea. Catechins are strong antioxidants. In addition, its content of certain minerals and vitamins increases the antioxidant potential of this type of tea.

Chinese have used green tea for medicinal properties for centuries. Recent human studies suggest that green tea may contribute to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, as well as to the promotion of general health and combating some bacterial and viral illnesses.

Now we need something to improve our memory to remember everything we need to do to stay active and healthy. Brew a good cup of tea, sit near a fire place, start reading this article all over again and see what happens. Enjoy!

How can you brew a perfect cup of tea?

-Use a good quality loose leaf or bagged tea

-Tea must be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature

-Always use fresh boiling water

-In order to draw the best flavour out of the tea the water must contain oxygen, this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once

-Measure the tea carefully

-Use one tea bag or one rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup to be served

-Allow the tea to brew for the recommended time (generally three to five minutes) before pouring

(For more information visit Tea Council of Canada (www.tea.ca) and the British Tea Council)

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