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International Tea Day and the health benefits of drinking tea throughout the years

With International Tea Day on the 21st May 2021, I thought it was a good time to talk about our tea drinking habits, its health benefits and introduce you to a few our our firm favourites.

As families enjoy getting together for probably the first shared pot of tea in a year – a new independent research study commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel has found that six in ten of us share the same tea drinking habits as our parents or children. This makes tea a truly inter-generational drink and one that’s packed with top-to-toe health benefits – from cognitive and brain health to protection of heart and gut function.

Dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Tea Advisory Panel – www.teaadvisorypanel.com – says: “As well as being popular across the ages, tea provides distinct benefits for each generation. Studies show that working age adults who drink tea improve their mental focus and memory, while older adults benefit from lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. Even children over the age of four years – normally given milk or soft drinks – can get a health advantage by switching to milky unsweetened tea since it contains natural fluoride which protects teeth.

Gut health effects

“Tea is also proven to have gut health effects, as noted in a research review published in the journal, Nutrients. Drinking green tea boosted gut levels of Bifidobacterium – a healthy strain of bacteria linked with metabolic health – with effects seen after just two weeks. This could particularly help women who tend to suffer digestive discomfort more often than men”.

GP, Dr Gill Jenkins, adds: “Another review just published in the Journal of Human Nutrition confirmed the brain and cognitive benefits of regular tea drinking. The secret is the natural elixir of polyphenols, caffeine and L-theanine which have been shown to influence the brain from adolescence to old age. Indeed, in the new poll commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel, more than eight in ten adults say drinking tea helps to improve their mood, while four in ten claim it keeps them calm”.

To add milk or not?

The Tea Advisory Panel poll also found intergenerational differences in the way we take our tea. While adding milk to tea remains popular, younger people are trying tea without milk or adding plant milks. Also, a third of younger people leave the teabag in for longer than their elders – which is far better for extracting the maximum amount of polyphenols.

GP, Dr Gill Jenkins, comments: “Research shows that tea components, especially polyphenols, influence brain health, mood and cognitive function by relaxing blood vessels and improving their function. This lowers blood pressure and brings more nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Tea polyphenols are also anti-inflammatory and deliver antioxidant effects which protect brain cells from damage. The unique combination of caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid in tea, promotes mental focus and helps to preventing mind-wandering as evidenced by recent clinical trials”.

Tea helps with brain function

The new poll also found that 25 per cent of people use a cuppa to keep their brain functioning well, while more than 70 per cent say their morning tea – especially black tea – wakes them up and gets them going. Younger people tend to favour tea in the evening and say it helps them to relax.

A fascinating aspect of the new poll was that even the aroma of tea has an impact on how people feel and think, a fact supported by the new systematic review lead by Dr Jenkins, which investigated data on the effects of tea when it comes to our cognition, brain and mind health. More than half of people say they feel cosy, happy and relaxed – as well as energised – when they get the first sniff of a freshly brewed cuppa. Tea aroma also makes a third think about their parents while around a fifth remember their grandparents or hark back to childhood camping trips.

Dr Carrie Ruxton concludes: “All the evidence on tea means that drinking 3-4 cups of tea a day – as many of us already do – could benefit children and teenagers needing to complete homework, working adults trying to destress or focus on complex tasks, and retired adults who want to retain optimal brain health as they age.

“Yet, as the Tea Advisory Panel poll revealed, most people are still unaware of these benefits and simply drink tea because it makes them feel good. Whether we’re enjoying a cuppa alone or with friends and family this International Tea Day, it’s time to celebrate the health benefits that our humble cuppa provides to both young and old.”

Teas on the homefront
Nutrilic Slim Tea

I’ve never been one to believe the hype behind any tea that is supposed to help you lose weight, so when Nutrilic’s Slim Tea arrived on my doorstep, I took a cautious approach. Nutrilic claims that drinking the tea offers a host of healthy body cleansing and detoxing benefits for aiding weight loss to colon cleansing and even an improved digestive system. They claim its natural ingredients will help you lose weight and get back on the path to health through boosting your metabolism, so you can burn calories faster.

As I have just returned to the gym after lockdown, I thought I’d give their 30-day programme a go. I’m currently a week into the programme and I admit it is helping with my energy levels. It also tastes really good unlike a lot of other green teas I have tried. I love the fact it came with a handy little tea infuser mesh ball. I can just pop the infuser into my tea receptacle, pour in hot water and go! It makes for a fab tea filter.

I’ll report back once I’ve finished the course, but so far it’s helped decrease my appetite and helped with bloating.

Over The Moon Tea

One of my favourite blends at the moment is Over The Moon Tea by HotTea Mama. It is a delicious rose-scented tea that helps me reflect, slow down and just breathe. In the range of teas there is also a tea named Take a Pause. This contains Valerian, which has an anti-anxiety effect. Another tea called Night Owl is designed to help you sleep and reduce stress.

The last year has been stressful for everyone. While we are faced with some positivity as lockdown eases, the huge change is bound to bring fear and anxiety. A cup of Over The Moon helps me in many ways, relieving some symptoms of anxiety and stress. I take my tea very seriously and this is a really good cuppa.

I love the whole chamomile flowers in each bag. Studies have shown camomile has an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant impact. My tip is to warm the pot first as it gives the tea a smoother, rounder taste. I also leave my tea bag in the cup for around six minutes to release all of the individual flavours.

Each teabag can be used twice to create 30 cups of tea from a box. All teas are wholeleaf, vegan and gluten-free. Teabags are plastic-free and biodegradable so you can add them to a food compost bin once you’re finished with them. RRP £6 a for a box of 15 teabags from www.hotteamama.com

D’Amazonia tea

The name D’Amazonia actually means from the Amazon in Brazilian Portuguese. This tea offers a blend of natural caffeine, anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatories to aid my gym routine. I read about the benefits of this tea in a running magazine. It’s easy to drink, has a light taste and is working wonders on my energy levels post-Covid vaccine! I’ll report back once I’ve finished the pouch.

Saffron tea

It goes without saying that my favourite brew is saffron tea. A cup of this stuff morning, noon or night works wonders in boosting my mood and brings calm. You can read more about the health benefits of drinking saffron tea here.

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Saffron and Cyrus is a Newcastle-based family lifestyle blog, covering diversity, self-care, days out, travel, reviews, recipes and more from our family life.
The blog is written by new mum over 40, Aranda, with input from hubby H and four-year-old Cyrus.

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