It’s well known that tea is demonstrably healthy for you. Both iced tea and hot tea have been shown to have extremely positive effects on the human body, thanks mostly to tea’s high antioxidant content. Even better news—antioxidants are only the beginning of tea’s health benefits.
The Chemistry of Tea
Tea contains cancer-fighting antioxidants known as polyphenols. Green tea, in particular, contains a specific kind of antioxidant called catechins. One catechin, EGCG, was found by one study to suppress lung cancer cell growth and by another to inhibit breast cancer tumors. The most important health contribution of catechins is their destruction of free radicals—unstable molecules that attack our DNA. In addition, they improve bone strength, lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, boost endurance and mood, and may even combat Parkinson’s disease and act as a kind of reinforcement sunscreen to protect us from ultraviolet rays.
Caffeine And Health
Tea also contains a small amount of caffeine, typically less than 75mg per serving for black tea and even less for green tea. (All teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis; but the leaves are processed differently.) And moderate caffeine consumption is scientifically linked to many different health benefits: including increased alertness, stamina and memory; decreased muscle soreness; and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, kidney stones and liver fibrosis.
One often-overlooked benefit of tea is its hydrating properties. Water is essential for life, of course, but few people are aware of the benefits of a marginal increase in hydration. Among its many advantages are increased weight loss (greater consumption of water aids in feeling fuller), better digestion and less constipation, improved mood, healthier kidney function and even a possible reduction in the risk of certain cancers. Health authorities have historically recommended drinking half a gallon of water each day. Tea can provide antioxidants along with hydration.
The Psychology of Tea
Social science reports that ritual and routine are crucial aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Each affects the brain in important ways: routine helps with execution of tasks and performance by helping to create a “pre-performance” procedure, enabling people to increase their focus, execution, emotional stability and confidence; while rituals increase problem-solving abilities. A warm, soothing cup of tea is an easy addition to the morning routine that provides the tea drinker many things: a moment to relax and mentally re-center to think about the upcoming day, ritualistic behavior that builds confidence, and an enhanced mood that may be a result of simply holding a warm beverage in hand.