By Lindsey Augusta, blogger of Augusta Speaks I discovered my love and passion for tea a few years ago in NW Portland, Oregon, when my Mom and I discovered a very hip and healthy tea café called Tea Chai Té. Mesmerized by not only the amount of blends on the menu, I was also totally impressed by the variety of teas, in all forms of hot, iced, latte, herbal, bubble, and even Kombucha tea. On the menu, a list of health benefits accompanied each blend, and this really signified the owners’ authentic concern for my well-being. I remember feeling at home in this little café, and the feeling has since not left me.
Something inside of me shifted into place that day, and there was a discovery of three personal reflections; first, that I should drink more tea, second, that I have an intrinsic need to creaté, and third, that the thought of running my own tea café seemed absolutely awe-inspiring. Creating allows me to feel focused and alive. And so, recently I have decided to begin the process of my own tea blending, with the hopes of inspiring people (including myself) with the flavorful, healthy, and creative qualities of tea. I find tea to be historically, spiritually, and emotionally significant (Did you know this ancient drink has been around for hundreds of years?), inspiring tradition, meditation, mindfulness, slowing down for the present moment, daily reflections, gratitude, and the search for a deeper meaning in life.
But what about the significance for the health, well-being, and longevity of the body? My following post presents information I have found through my research about tea and tisane.
Teaology: The Science of Tea & Tisane
Did you know that all tea comes from the very same plant? The Camellia sinensis originates from the Theaceae family of plants, and depending on the post-harvest processing of the leaf, the tea will either transform into a pu’erh, black, oolong, green, or white tea variety.
Why is this significant?
Aside from the impressive fact that this plant is so multi-dimensional, the processing style of fermentation (i.e., oxidizing) or steaming of the leaf transforms the caffeine levels, the antioxidant/polyphenol contents, and the flavor of the tea! This is why black tea has its rich roasted flavor and contains more caffeine (60 milligrams per cup), while green tea has a milder and distinct earthy quality and only contains about 30mg per cup.
EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate): The Most Powerful Antioxidant in Tea
EGCG is a type of catechin, which is a kind of flavonoid, which is a form of polyphenol that works as an extremely powerful antioxidant in the body. Green and white teas contain the richest sources of this catechin because they are steamed prior to oxidation, a method of tea processing that preserves the polyphenol content of the tea leaf. Green tea is clearly the star of all tea in current research.
But don’t fret! If you’re a major fan of black tea because although the fermentation process exposes the leaf to more oxygen and decreases its levels of EGCG, this chemical process also creates new polyphenol (i.e., antioxidant) compounds, predominately in the forms of thearubigens and theaflavins.
What are the health benefits in support of antioxidants and EGCG?
Antioxidants function to stabilize the free radicals in your body, which decrease oxidative stress, and therefore prevent health deterioration and disease through a mechanism of chemical balancing and healing.
Improved : digestion (antioxidants function as a prebiotic, which provides nutrition for the beneficial microorganisms in the intestinal tract), cardiovascular health and reduction of cholesterol, weight control through increased body fat oxidation, bone density, oral health (helps to improve bad breath), and insulin sensitivity for people with diabetes
Decreased likelihood of : inflammatory conditions, age-related and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and cancer cell proliferation
How much tea should you drink?
According to The University of Maryland, at least five cups a day results in optimal health benefits, but even just committing yourself to one cup a day is a significant advantage for your long-term health!
Think of this way: One venti iced tea from Starbucks is 24 ounces, which is equivalent to three cups of tea
Tisane blends (the fancy term for herbal tea) contain herbs and spices (all naturally caffeine-free) in the form of rooibos, flowers, roots, seeds, and leaves. Each contain a wide array of organic compounds that not only work as antioxidants, but also provide healing and positive physiological effects for various body systems, including the lungs, the intestinal tract, the heart, and the brain and central nervous system.
Lavender ~ aromatic, soothing to a sore throat, anti-depressive, anti-microbial, analgesic (relieves pain), nervine (relieves stress), carminative (relieves gas and symptoms of indigestion)
Chamomile ~ relaxant/sedative, sleep and digestive aid, nervine, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-microbial, anti-allergic
Cinnamon ~ aromatic, mild-stimulant, anti-diabetic, carminative, improves circulation, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anti-microbial
*If you’re interested in reading more about the science of tea, Victor R. Preedy’s Tea in Health and Disease Prevention and Lester A. Mitscher’s The Green Tea Book are both spectacular books! The Rodale Herb Book is essential for any lover of herbal plants.
**Purchase organic and fair trade tea and tisane whenever possible.
I hope I have inspired you to drink more tea! A big thank you to Brighid for giving me the opportunity to guest post on her wonderful blog, and a sincere thanks to all who have taken the time to read my post.
Best of wishes, Lindsey Augusta