Tea & Health

Tea and its health benefits are today a hot topic amongst those seeking a healthy, more natural lifestyle. As a non-alcoholic beverage, tea is today regaining its place as the foremost health beverage that it was first considered to be almost 5000 years ago.

What are the nutrients in tea?

The major nutrients are carbohydrates, protein and lipids (or fat). Tea contains very small quantities of these. The calorific value of a plain cup of tea is almost zero. Minerals and vitamins are the other important nutrient components. Tea does not provide significant amounts of both.

Bioactive non-nutrients

  • Caffeine
  • Theanine
  • Flavonoids (polyphenols)

(Catechins, Theaflavins, Thearubigins)

What are antioxidants?

An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells. These chain reactions could lead to diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as flavonoids in tea could neutralize free radicals and terminate these chain reactions, thus reducing the risk of above diseases.

Tea & Theanine

  • Theanine promotes mental and physical relaxation, decreasing stress and anxiety, without inducing drowsiness.

What are the health benefits of tea?

Research has shown that flavonoids in tea, in addition to being antioxidants have many other beneficial activities. Therefore, regular tea consumption could contribute to reduction of the risk of many diseases such as Cancer, Heart disease, Diabetes and also improve oral health.

Are the health benefits different from green tea to black tea?

Research has shown that both have similar effects.

What are the caffeine levels in Coffee vs Tea?

The amount of caffeine in a cup (or the amount we ingest) is more important than the amounts in the finished product. In general, a cup of coffee will have more caffeine. The amount in both coffee and tea could vary due to many reasons such as the variety of the tea or coffee plant, method of processing, method of brewing etc. An average cup of tea would contain 15 – 60 mg of caffeine while in coffee it would be 60 – 150 mg.

Tea & Caffeine

Type of Product           Caffeine (mg/ serving)

Tea (All types)               40-60mg/ 190ml serving

Coffee Brewed              70-130mg/ 190ml serving  

Instant                           75mg/ 190ml serving

Cola drinks                   11-70mg/ 330 ml can

'Energy' drinks              28-87mg/ 250ml serving

Chocolate Bar               5.5-35.5mg/ 50g bar

  • 6 cups of tea provide 300mg of caffeine – a moderate intake

Does drinking tea help you lose weight?

Research has shown that tea contributes to reduce weight. However, this is a small effect. Do not expect to reduce your weight by consuming tea while you are on a high calorie diet. However, if you could replace any other item in your diet which contains high calories with a plain cup of tea (which contain no calories) it would have a significant effect on your weight. 

What are Tannins?

Tannin is an old term used for the flavonoids in tea. The term originated to identify plant extracts that could be used for the tanning process (to turn hide into leather). However, now those individual components in tea and other plant extracts have been identified and the specific terms (such as Catechins, Theaflavins and Thearubigins in tea) are used. 

What is the difference between Green Tea & Black tea?

Both use the same starting material - the tender shoots of Camellia sinensis. The difference is in the processing method. In black tea processing, when the shoots are rolled the Catechins (major water soluble components in the fresh tea shoot) are converted by the enzymes in the leaf to the Theaflavins (golden yellow in colour) and Thearubigins (reddish brown in colour). Theaflavins and Thearubigins contribute mostly to the typical colour of the black tea brew and taste. In green tea processing, initially the leaf is subjected to heat (steam or pan firing) thus destroying the enzymes. Hence the Catechins will remain unchanged giving the typical colour and taste of the Catechins to the green tea. 

How many cups of tea can I drink per day?

We have to consider whether there is a possibility to ingest excessive amounts of any components in tea. There are two such components, fluoride and caffeine. Excessive caffeine could affect our health and scientists consider around 300mg of caffeine per day as a moderate intake. Most good quality tea contains 40 – 50mg of caffeine. Therefore, around 6 cups would provide moderate amounts of caffeine. Research has shown that 6 cups of tea provides around 2mg of fluoride which is about 50% of the recommended daily intake.  

Is it safe to have tea soon after a meal?

If consumed soon after a meal, tea could reduce the iron intake from the meal. However, there are two types of iron in food. ‘Heam iron’ which is the type of iron found in food from animal sources (meat and fish). This type of iron is easily absorbed into the body and tea does not interfere with the absorption of ‘heam iron’. The other type ‘non heam iron’ is found in food from plant sources. Tea reduces the absorption of ‘non heam iron’. Further, compared to the amounts in food from animal sources the iron in food from plant sources is less. Therefore, if your regular diet is mostly vegetarian, meal time tea drinking could further reduce your iron intake. If your regular diet contain meat or fish (western type diet) meal time tea drinking will not have an effect on the iron intake. 

Does drinking tea during pregnancy affect the foetus?

Research in animal models has shown that very high intake of caffeine could affect the foetus. (Quantities used in the experiments are very high which cannot be ingested by tea drinking). However, medical scientists always take precautions in pregnancy, hence four cups per day is recommended during pregnancy.