Not only is tea soothing and delicious, but, throughout its history, it has been associated with important health benefits. New studies point to evidence that these healing properties have a scientific basis. While all tea is healthy to drink, Green tea contains the highest level of polyphenols (flavonoids), which are known for their antioxidant activity.
Consumption of tea is being studied for its reported benefits on:
Enhancing immune function
Lowering LDL cholesterol levels
Increasing HDL cholesterol levels
Reducing blood pressure
Thinning the blood
Reducing the risk of a heart attack
Lowering the risk of stroke
Reducing the risk of cancer
Preventing dental cavities and gingivitis
Much of the focus of modern research is on the effects of three ingredients found in tea: Antioxidants (polyphenols), nutrients, and caffeine.
Many of the health benefits of drinking tea come from the fact that tea contains high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols or flavonoids. These compounds are most prevalent in green and white teas, but are also present in varying degrees in Oolongs and black teas. In the processing of black teas another antioxidant is formed – theaflavin. This is weaker than the polyphenols in Green teas, but still performs antioxidant activities in laboratory experiments. Polyphenols scavenge cell-damaging free radicals, which are linked with cancer-causing genes and cause LDL cholesterol to form artery-clogging plaque. The polyphenols in tea possess 20 to 30 times the antioxidant potency of vitamins C and E. Antioxidants impair the ability of free radical cells to harm the molecules that make up our bodies.
Tea is a dietary source of important vitamins and minerals. Tea contains Carotene, a precursor to vitamin A; Thiamin (vitamin B1); Riboflavin (vitamin B2); Nicotinic acid, Pantothenic acid, Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin B6; Folic acid; Manganese, Potassium, and Fluoride.
In moderation caffeine can be a benefit – stimulating the metabolism, increasing brain function and alertness. However, the stress of modern life, and the prevalence of coffee and caffeinated colas, has lead people to caffeine overload. The typical cup of coffee has approximately 125-185 milligrams of caffeine. With In Pursuit of Tea full leaf products you can expect a range of about 45-60 milligrams of caffeine for black teas, 35-45 milligrams for Oolong teas, and 15-20 milligrams for green teas. Please remember that these are typical levels. Depending upon the type of tea and how it is prepared, caffeine levels can be significantly greater or lower than outlined here. For those of you needing a powerful lift in the morning, some of our black teas, brewed appropriately, can have as much caffeine as a cup of the strongest coffee! Because caffeine from tea does not take effect for 10-15 minutes, it provides more of a subtle lift – not the rapid jolt in a cup of coffee. As we like to say “Tea makes you happy; coffee makes you nervous”.
The effect of caffeine is also complemented by another compound found only in tea, theophylline. While caffeine primarily is active in the brain and muscles, theophylline is active in stimulating the respiratory system, heart and kidneys. This corresponds to research that tea is helpful in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.