Benefit Of Pouring A Cuppa At Work
Words / Stephanie Osfield
Are you sure you want that latte/ long black/macchiato “to go”?
Every year, Australians are drinking more coffee and less tea and, in the process, we’re missing a golden opportunity to down a beverage with incredible health punch. Tea is more than a tasty, soothing drink that comes in a variety of flavours: it also has plenty of hidden health benefits to treat health niggles and chronic conditions as well as protect against disease.
A brew with big benefits
Whatever your cup of choice — English breakfast, green or dandelion tea — your body enjoys an immediate increase in health-giving antioxidants such as plant compounds called flavonoids and polyphenols. When you weigh up all the evidence, tea is the healthiest hot beverage you can drink.
So it’s a shame that Australian tea consumption has dropped in the past 40 years in favour of cappuccinos and lattes. Tea appears to have more health benefits than coffee and around 50–60 per cent less caffeine per cup. Within 20 minutes of drinking a cup of black tea, there’s a measurable increase in the level of antioxidants in your blood. This brew ranks higher than some fruit and vegetables on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale, which measures antioxidant levels in foods. The polyphenols in tea help protect the body against free radical damage, which harms DNA and leads to disease. Three to four cups of tea a day appear to give optimal benefit.
Tea also has protective effects against the following:
Heart disease. Tea lowers heart attack risk, according to a growing body of evidence, including research by the University of L’Aquila in Italy. The study found that as little as one cup of regular tea per day, which contains around 200mg of flavonoids, helps keep the endothelial lining of the arteries in the heart softer and more flexible. This helps lower blood pressure, prevent hardening of the arteries and thereby reduce heart attack risk.
Osteoporosis. Elderly women who drink tea have higher bone density, shows research by the University of Western Australia. This may be because it promotes a more alkaline balance in the body while a more acid state leads to minerals like calcium being leached from the bones.
Cancer. The polyphenols in tea may help reduce the risk of gastric, oesophageal and skin cancer, according to research. At the School of Public Health at Curtin University, research showed that drinking three cups of green tea a day reduces the likelihood of developing prostate and ovarian cancer. If you develop either of these cancers and you are a tea drinker, your survival rate is also increased.
Weight gain. Many studies have indicated that green tea helps boost metabolic rate, encouraging faster burning of kilojoules. This may be due to an amino acid L-theanine, which improves alertness without causing over stimulation.
What about milk?
Though one much-publicised study showed that adding milk negated the health benefits, many other studies have indicated that most of the antioxidants from tea are still absorbed whether you enjoy your it with milk, sweetener or lemon. Keep in mind, though, that if you are drinking five or six cups a day and adding two sugars and full-cream milk, your healthy tea habit may start to become a liability for your weight and dental health.
To teapot or not?
In recent years, the humble cuppa has shaken off its traditional image. All manner of delectable brews in different flavours are available to be infused via loose leaves or tea bags. The subtle aromatic scent as the loose leaves steep, the ceremonial turning of the pot and associations with emotional comfort add a sense of occasion to a cup of orange pekoe or Russian caravan.
Though the slow, beautiful tea ceremonies of Japan and China are very appealing, we have our own unrecognised tea ceremony in Australia, which often involves putting on the kettle and sitting down and taking time to pause or chat. Making a pot is well worth the effort, not only because the delicate flavour of a darjeeling or ceylon tea becomes richer with loose-leaf tea but because the longer steeping time boosts the flavonoid levels to benefit your health.
The healing powers of herbal:
Herbal teas are those that are made by infusing or decocting leaves, flowers or roots of plants other than camellia sinensis. As these different plants have different chemistries, the herbal that result have a wide range of soothing, healing and medicinal properties, which can be used to relieve and treat many health issues and chronic problems. To maximise their healing power, buy organic and loose leaf so you enjoy the full benefits of the essential oils and antioxidants.
For beneficial herbal brews, here are some to keep in mind:
Chai. Chai spices can help boost metabolism, reduce inflammation, lower blood glucose levels and insulin, support the immune system, enhance digestion and boost energy.
Chamomile. Calmative and antispasmodic properties. This makes it a great tonic to treat digestive issues including ulcerative colitis and gastritis, stomach pain and indigestion.
Dandelion. A strong digestive stimulant so it can help enhance your absorption of nutrients, relieve indigestion and settle nausea. As a herbal lipotropic, this potent herb helps flush fatty deposits from your liver and stimulates bile production, facilitating your liver’s detoxification process.
Fennel. It’s known as a carminative herb so is a go-to natural treatment for blitzing belly bloating, flatulence, dyspepsia and indigestion.
Ginger. Has been used throughout history to boost digestion and circulation.
Green Tea. Benefits the circulatory system, lowers blood pressure, heals skin cells, rich in antioxidants and is said to help the risk of developing oral cancers.
Kombucha. Boosts healthy bacteria, which helps line the digestive system.
Lavender. Relieves all manner of ailments from migraines, depression, anxiety and stomach aches to hair loss and infertility.
Rosehip. A potent source of vitamin C. This important vitamin is beneficial for maintaining connective tissue in skin.
Peppermint. It can relieve sinus problems and cold symptoms and stimulate better gall bladder function. It’s also great for oral health and alleviating bad breath.
Raspberry Leaf. A remedy for digestive problems, toothache, coughs, fluid retention and kidney stones. The juice from the berries has also been used as a laxative and a treatment for fever and cystitis.
Liquorice. Has adaptogenic properties, which means it can help to adapt to your body’s needs and balance stress hormones and sex hormones as well as boosting energy.
Lemon and Lemongrass. They have a myriad of benefits including digestion aid, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and can lessen the risk of diseases like cancer.
Matcha. High in L-theanine, which helps to boost calming alpha waves in the brain and supports the production of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that enhance mood, improve memory and promote better concentration.