When people tell me they drink ten cups of green tea every day because theyre really into fitness, it takes a lot for me to not sigh in defeat. All I need to do is say I work for an e-tea company and the health angle of tea naturally slips in.
The hype around tea shouldn’t bother me, right? After all, we do sell and this is a great thing for us. I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t so vastly misguided. If tea is the magical elixir it is purported to be, I think us folks at Teabox have chugged enough to become super-humans.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Not just about health, there are quite a few urban legends floating around regarding tea. I decided even if I cant dispel each and every one of them, I can start with the following five.
1. Tea doesn’t have an expiry date
Most people tend to forget a small, vital detail about tea – at the end of the day, it is an agricultural product. Which means the longer you keep it around, the staler it gets. Tea usually has a shelf life of six months from the date of picking (not to be confused with the date of packing. These are independent events.) after which it progressively loses its catechins, a class of antioxidants aka the reason why tea is considered healthy.
Freshness is a big factor when it comes to tea and exposure is its biggest threat. Ensure that your tea comes sealed in vacuum or airtight packs and check for the date of picking. Store it in a cool, dark and dry place and consume it within four months.
2. Green tea can make you lose weight
No. Just no.
Liposuction can slim you down quickly. Diseases like typhoid and dysentery will result in rapid weight loss. But the healthy, permanent way to lose weight is only through a good diet and exercise. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’ve personally spent hours trying to find a definitive study or research that proves that green tea does indeed help you to lose weight. The fact is there are chemical compounds in green tea that can affect metabolism. So while I’m not negating that green tea is a healthy beverage, I would recommend that you combine it with a wholesome diet. You may be able to manage your metabolism. But thats about it.
3. Drinking tea combats cancer
Regular intake of tea has proven effective in battling cancer in mice. Granted it’s a start and all great medicines have evolved from there. But there are no conclusive results to prove the same works on human beings.
I for one will hold my judgment until there is proof. Because if what works for mice works for humans, I should use peppermint oil to repel people I don’t want around my house.
4. Chamomile tea, herbal tea, and other lies
Tea comes from the leaves and buds of the plant Camellia sinensis. You may find a lot of products such as chamomile tea, ginger tea, ginseng tea and so on, sold under the label herbal tea. Herbal tea, quite simply, is a concoction obtained from brewing various herbs or roots in a fashion similar to tea. They usually are caffeine-free and do not have the antioxidants that tea does.
But there are blends that incorporate tea leaves with such herbs. Indian masala chai is a delicious example of this.
5. Tea bags are just as good as loose leaves
The quality of tea depends on the type of leaves and the method of processing. The highest quality teas are usually orthodox hand-rolled loose leaves, made from the tenderest shoots and unopened buds. CTC (crush-tear-curl) tea is made from more mature, less flavourful leaves.
Tea dust holds the lowest grade among all tea varieties. It imparts a harsh flavor and the excess crushing and tearing of leaves causes loss of nutrients. This is the stuff that usually goes into tea bags. In terms of nutrition, flavor, and experience, they aren’t even in the same zip code as loose leaf teas.
I should have done a fairly successful job of turning you from tea right about now. I just think it is a shame that the health angle of tea overshadows the one actual reason why you should drink it.
Imagine you had a long, hard day. You just got home and you probably have one precious hour all to yourself. Put a kettle to boil, pull out your favorite mug. Drop long, curly tea leaves into boiling water and watch them bloom. Let the air fill with the pleasant aroma of the steeping tea. Fill your mug and watch that champagne-hued liquor swirl in it. Take a whiff, take a sip. Feel everything getting still, feel yourself unwind.
There are very few things that compare to that feeling.