What science says about getting the most out of your tea
Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Tea is personal; everyone has opinions about making the perfect cup. But what does science say about getting the most, nutrition-wise, out of your brew?
It’s not the only reason to drink it, but tea consumption is linked to a number of. It’s thought to improve mood and cognition, and reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Tea is a, including fluoride, magnesium, and zinc. However, the health benefits are mostly linked to ; Catechins, caffeine and L-theanine. are non-essential nutrients that may impact health.
have suggested these compounds may have multiple health effects. But, the results in are much less clear.
are a type of polyphenol, a group of chemicals with antioxidant properties. are molecules that prevent cell damage. makes you feel alert and the is believed to be responsible for tea’s relaxing properties. These compounds also contribute to your brew’s taste and .
Which tea is healthiest?
Black, oolong, white and green teas all come from the same plant,. The differences come from the harvest timing and processing, particularly the level of , a reaction that occurs when processed leaves are exposed to high oxygen levels.
Black tea is fully, oolong is partially oxidized, while green and white teas are unoxidized. White teas are from early harvests, green from later.
Processing has little impact on L-theanine, withfound in all teas. Caffeine levels vary widely, however . Catechins are altered by oxidisation, so levels are and teas.
More antioxidants and less caffeine means green tea is typically considered the healthier option. So green tea has been the focus of most studies of the health benefits. However, all teas are a.
But, be warned. Having “tea” on the label doesn’t guarantee bioactive content or health benefits.
Pre-packaged iced teas and instant teas may haveand can be . don’t contain any actual tea leaf, and so .
Excessive consumption of tea can also be harmful, leading to. , which are another group of polyphenols in tea can also and reduce iron absorption if consumed with or soon after a meal.
Getting the maximum health benefit from your cuppa is more about the brewing than the tea you choose.
Patience is important. If you are jiggling the tea bag around in the cup for 15-30 seconds, you are probably only getting a fraction of the bioactives you would by following the maker’s instructions.
Brewing with freshly boiled water for two to three minutes, as per the instructions, extracts about.
The longer you brew the more bioactives you get, but also the stronger the taste. Research has found that brewing forextracts the maximum level of bioactives, but that’s not really practical for daily life, and probably isn’t very tasty!
Interestingly, theof water also . Low pH (acidic) water extracts bioactives better than high pH (basic) water.
Theis about seven, which is neutral, so there might be a benefit to adding lemon with your tea, rather than after its brewed.
Tea in the microwave?
The idea of making tea in the microwave is horrifying for purists.
It’s argued microwaves are inferior to kettles for heating water, as there is less control over the temperature. But the microwave could actually be a useful tool for extracting more bioactives.
Microwaves can actually increase the levels of bioactives in your cup. Adding freshly boiled water to the teabag, steeping for 30 seconds, followed by a minute in the microwave (medium power)than a standard three minute steep.
Does milk change the health benefits of tea?
Some studies have suggested milk alters theand of tea. But others have shown the same level of antioxidants after consuming tea with and without milk.
There’s no real science behind the age old question of when the milk should be added. The Royal Society of Chemistry suggests adding it first, which might give the milk a stale taste.
Loose leaf vs teabags
Loose leaf may contain more bioactives because they use. But leaves in teabags are cut smaller, and this is thought to .
Lower quality teas may also include morethan the leaves. So while fancy loose leaf might taste better, you probably get more bang for buck from a humble tea bag.
Health benefits might not be the only reason we choose to drink tea, but if you want to get the most out of your cup, patience is the key. Whichever type of tea you choose, the longer you brew, the more goodness in each cup.
, authored by Postdoctoral Fellow (Human Molecular Nutrition), School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, and Senior Lecturer in Food Science & Human Nutrition, University of Newcastle, Australia.