Tea is one of the commonest and oldest beverages in the world. It is prepared by pouring boiling water over cured leaves of Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to East Asia. Mainly there are four varieties; green, black, white and oolong. Any other type of tea such as herbal tea is of a different plant and technically not “tea”.
There’s a long history of tea. However from research, it is said to originate from Yunnan region during the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink which dates back to the 3rd century AD. From there, tea became popular in India, Lebanon and finally in London where tea was first sold by Thomas Garway in 1657. The East India Company began bringing tea as one of the many products to the United Kingdom. The British started adding milk and sugar to sweeten the beverage which wasn’t practiced in China. Today, China and India are the largest producers of tea.
Apart from the enjoyment of drinking tea, it has many health benefits. However, this also depends on the type of tea you drink. The length of time the leaves are processed gives you either green, black or oolong tea. Green tea is said to be the healthiest since it is the least processed.
Some benefits of drinking green tea are
- Tea has polyphenol antioxidants which reduce inflammation and help in fighting cancer. It can also slow the aging process and many other diseases.
- Although tea contains caffeine like in coffee but it also has the amino acid L-theanine, the combination of which improve brain functions. It can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- The antioxidants can also increase the body’s ability to burn fat. However in some studies it doesn’t show any effect. This means that it depends on the individual.
- It can help in reducing the risk of heart attack.
- Green tea contains catechins which can kill different bacteria and viruses.
- It can reduce the risk of high blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes.
- Due to the positive aspects of drinking green tea, it can prolong our life span.
However, recent research has shown the downside effect of drinking piping hot tea risk oesophageal cancer especially if the individuals also smoke and consume alcohol. Canquing Yu of Peking University Health Science Center in Beijing conducted a research of more than 450,000 people in China for 9 years.
“Our findings show a noticeable increase in oesophageal cancer risk associated with a combination of high-temperature tea drinking, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco smoking. They suggest that abstaining from hot tea might be beneficial for preventing oesophageal cancer in persons who drink alcohol excessively or smoke” he said.
The high temperature of the tea can affect the protective lining of the oesophagus and can cause carcinogenesis. This is not to discourage drinking tea but it is advised to allow it a few minutes to cool before drinking.
Garima Nabh is the founder of New Age Magazine.