Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert
This week I explore the benefits and concerns of caffeinated teas and the best kinds. Also, are decaffeinated beverages really caffeine free?
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What are caffeinated teas?
Caffeinated teas are those that contain White, Green and Black tea and everything in between such as yellow Oolong tea. All 4 teas are produced from the leaves of the Tea Plant called Camellia sinensis. What differentiates them into their different colours and strengths is the way they are processed.
How is tea processed to produce the different types of caffeinated tea?
The leaves undergo a type of fermentation process. They are oxidized under controlled temperature, humidity and the level of exposure to air. The level of oxidation determines the colour, flavour or type of tea. Black Tea is oxidised for up to four hours and Oolong Teas are oxidized for two to three hours. Green and White Teas are heated immediately after harvest to stop these processes, resulting in a product that is different in taste and colour. Green and White Teas most closely resemble the look and composition of the fresh tea leaf, especially flavonoid composition.
5 Health benefits of drinking Caffeinated Tea
The benefits of drinking tea have been known and enjoyed since millennia.
Symposiums are health world wide to share scientific studies on these benefits. The benefits stem from its rich antioxidant content. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent or delay oxidative damage to the body, cells and tissues caused by toxins, pollutants, poor diet and stress, which further contribute, to diseases like cancer and heart disease.
– Green tea in particular may help reduce the risk for fractures and improve bone mass.
– Black tea may be able to induce a protective effect by not only reducing blood pressure but also reducing the negative action of the fat load on the arteries.
– Green and black teas can help burn up to 100 more calories a day, through increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation.
– General tea drinking improved task performance and alertness.
– A review of published clinical studies suggests that the consumption of 5 cups of green tea per day can help prevent several types of cancer and may provide recurrence protection against colorectal cancer.
5 ways to drink tea for health
1. Always buy organic. Non-organic tea grown in other countries is irradiated. Concerns about irradiation are that natural health constituents and vitamins and enzymes are depleted when tea is irradiated.
2. Make tea from filtered or Spring water. Due to the tea plant’s high sensitivity to and absorption of environmental pollutants such as fluoride and aluminum, choosing organic (less chemical pollutants) and making your tea in filtered water will reduce the amount of these heavy metals. Once study cites that the addition of lemon juice reduced the heavy metals.
3. Oxalates are found in tea as well as other foods such as spinach, chocolate and rhubarb (though cooking inactivates the oxalates in these foods). In the body, oxalates bind to calcium and iron and are then excreted in urine as minute crystals. These oxalates can form larger kidney stones. The amount of tea consumed to form kidney stones is not very clear in research but generally speaking they cite that 3-4 cups usually is fine. Avoid drinking black tea with iron and calcium rich foods as they will deplete these vital nutrients in your body.
4. Choose quality milk when adding it to black teas. Organic, unhomogenised, full fat and less processed types are best as they retain whole milk nutrients.
5. Avoid artificial sweeteners and again choose a small amount of natural sweeteners such as unprocessed sugar such as rapadura, coconut sugar, raw honey or green leaf stevia or try as is. Enjoy teas natural and subtle flavours.
A note on Decaffeinated beverages:
Decaffeination is the act of removing caffeine from coffee beans, cocoa, tea leaves and other caffeine-containing materials. Despite removal of most caffeine, many decaffeinated drinks still have around 1–2% of the original caffeine remaining in them, and research has found that certain decaffeinated coffee drinks can contain around 20% of the original caffeine.
The concerns are not so much that caffeine is left behind but the chemical solvents used to eliminate caffeine are left behind.
I recommend that the less processing of any tea, coffee or food beverage will retain nutrients, enzymes that aid digestion and little or no chemicals.
Enjoy caffeinated Tea for health! Choose organic for the best quality and health benefits.