The surprising health benefits of drinking tea

Drinking tea can do wonders for your health. But don’t take my word for it, here are the experts…

Put down that cup of coffee, it’s time to rethink your daily brew. The simple swap of coffee beans for tea leaves could boost your health and wellbeing, with benefits reaching all aspects of the body from hydration, mental and cognitive, cardiovascular, metabolic, bones, gut health and immunity.

‘Black tea is the most popular tea in Britain and has the most all-round health benefits,’ explains Dr Tim Bond, a natural health expert and tea specialist at The Tea Advisory Panel.

‘A cup of any type of tea will help boost your mood, thanks to the L-theanine, which is an amino acid unique to tea in the UK diet that can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and promote relaxation.

‘Specific herbal teas (like chamomile and lemon verbena) can also do anything from calm to aid sleep.

‘All types of tea contain a range of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory flavonoids and consuming these can reduce cell damage, which may explain the reduced risk of chronic disease in tea drinkers in general.

‘Tea flavonoids improve endothelial function (the membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels) thus reducing inflammation inside the blood vessels and dilating them, which helps to control blood pressure and arterial health.

‘Tea flavonoids are also neuroprotective meaning they protect nerve cells in the brain and throughout the nervous system from damage and degeneration.’

Research by The Grocer found that three quarters of Brits drink a cup of tea at least once a day and 13% of us drink at least six cups daily.

However, evidence suggests that you only need two to four cups of a black and/or green tea a day to reap the benefits of a brew and Dr Bond suggests looking for tea from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is used for black green, matcha, oolong and white teas. For those who love a herbal tea, these should be consumed in addition to black or green tea and not instead of.

‘In my opinion, the top three teas are black, green and red bush (oolong),’ says Dr Bond. ‘Black tea thanks to the L-theanine, which contributes to overall brain health, including mood and cognitive, for example, improving focus, alertness, as well as memory. It’s also the top tea for cardiovascular health.

Rooibos (red bush) has a different polyphenol profile, which possesses potent antioxidant actions and has heart health benefits and both black and green tea can reduce age related cognitive decline.’

There’s also emerging evidence that drinking tea can benefit your fitness performance.

A study by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), the trade association for the UK tea industry, found that black or green tea could help you reach your health and fitness goals faster and are also the perfect alternative to water when it comes to hydration after a workout.

‘The Tea for Sport and Fitness study looked at the sports and fitness environment (eg; cycling, running, walking, training, endurance, exercise, athletics) to evaluate the impact of tea drinking on concentration, weight, hydration, sleep, muscle strength and fitness,’ says Dr Bond.

‘Green tea, in particular, was shown to help weight loss, with four cups of matcha green tea over 24 hours leading to increased fat oxidation when test subjects went on a 30 minute brisk walk. Three cups of green tea daily over eight weeks reduced central body fat, effects that increased when participants drank the tea and did some aerobic exercise at the same time.’

This is great news for anyone looking to give their summer training regime a boost as the study also found that when drinking green tea was paired with resistance training, body fat decreased even more along with an increase in muscle strength and lean body mass.

‘The NHS currently recommends we do 150 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ activity or at least 75 minutes of ‘vigorous activity’ each week so dehydration is always a worry, especially as we approach the summer months as even a slight increase in dehydration can impact aerobic exercise performance.

‘This TAP paper also looked at the impact of tea on hydration,’ adds Dr Bond.

‘Just four to six cups of black tea was found to be as hydrating as water and unlike water, tea also contributes antioxidant flavonoids, which can contribute to improved sleep, cardiovascular health and better focus, aspects which are important in fitness activity and training.

‘As little as one cup of green tea reduced stress and improved sleep quality, which is important as it is while we are sleeping that our body recovers and repairs itself.’

With mounting evidence touting tea as the perfect cuppa for overall health and now fitness, it might be time to start stocking up on the Rosie Lee.

The best teas for your health

Pukka Peace Tea

Herbs like chamomile, lavender, ashwagandha and hemp, Pukka Peace Tea will support you during life’s pressures.

Buy it for £3.45 (20 teabags) from Pukka.

Brew Tea Co’s English Breakfast Tea in a Tin

Brew Tea Co’s English Breakfast Tea in a Tin can help reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Buy it for £10 (25 teabags) from Brew Tea Company.

Tea India Masala Chai

Tea India Masala Chai tea contains ginger, cinnamon and cardamom which help boost immunity, wellbeing, digestion and relaxation.

Buy it for £2.20 (40 teabags) from Sainsburys.

Clipper Teas

Clipper Teas use plant-based, biodegradable, non-GM and unbleached tea bags. It’s also the world’s largest buyer of Fairtrade tea. It’s Organic Pure Green Tea is natural and contains nothing artificial.

Buy it for £3.99 (80 teabags) from Clipper Teas.

Tick Tock Rooibos Tea

Hydrating and caffeine- free, Tick Tock Rooibos Tea is sourced from Cape Town, South Africa.

Buy it for £2.15 (40 teabags) from Sainsburys.

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.

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