Nutrition a modern tea set

Published on July 14th, 2013 | by Joe Starks

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Fitness Jargonbuster: Tea

Tea first originated in China, where it was called Cha after the sixth century AD. It was named Te afterwards as it reached Europe in the ships of the Portuguese and the Dutch. The English especially liked the exotic good, auctioning it at high prices. At first only the rich of the aristocracy and wealthy merchant class could enjoy a cup of tea. This means that at that time drinking tea was merely a rich man’s fad and not a popular thing. Later on tea became more common, with brands being created in England and other countries, making it cheaper and more accessible to the poor. Since then, tea has become one of the most popular drinks in the world, rivaled only by coffee and cocoa (if we do not take alcoholic drinks into account). But why is tea so popular? Has it any medicinal properties? What are the side effects and the benefits of drinking tea? These questions we’ll answer with simple facts in this article.

What is tea?

Tea is a beverage you get from placing leaves of certain plants into boiling water. The leaves then release certain ingredients into the water giving it a slightly bitter taste and a very pleasant herbal aroma. The plant used is called Camelia sinensis and is more like a tall bush than a tree.

Tea has a very distinct relaxing effect that does not make you feel sleepy though. On the contrary it gives you a relaxed clarity of mind, improving many people’s lives psychologically that way. The fact that tea relaxes our bodies in that way is the reason why so often it is offered to people who are tired or stressed, to invigorate and calm them.

What are the benefits of drinking tea?

The numerous beneficial effects of tea have solid scientific reasons behind them. Tea leaves actually contain more caffeine in them than coffee per weight. We all know that caffeine has that amazing ability to stimulate us. Tea also contains substances that dilate blood vessels, namely theophyllin and theobromine. Dilated blood vessels lower blood pressure, making tea a good way to relax someone who is under stress or suffers from high blood pressure.

Tea also contains substances called catechins. These are strong antioxidants, which help the body balance the free radicals in our blood and body. This helps our tissues stay healthier for longer and can prevent many degenerative diseases. Antioxidants aren’t anything rare really, since many vitamins a substances are actually antioxidants. Tea is simply a very good source, not the only one.

One of the more important stress relieving substances that can be found in tea is theanine. This substances has very strong stress relieving effects, giving tea most of its relaxing properties.

Aside from these, tea can also:

  • Improve your quality of life. Especially if your switch from coffee to tea. Tea itself contains less caffeine than coffee because the brew is highly diluted, even though the leaves themselves are richer than coffee.
  • Help you lose weight. Switching from any calorific beverage to tea can help you lose weight, since tea has almost no calories at all.
  • Keeps you hydrated. Tea is a very good drink to keep you hydrated, because it has a very high water content and it is easy to drink.
  • Protects you from several diseases. Antioxidants in tea can keep you healthier if you are lacking in antioxidants, even though that is quite rare in the developed world.
  • Protects your teeth. Tea contains fluoride and other substances that can help keep your teeth healthy, especially if you don’t add sugar.
  • Blood dilating substances found in tea can help prevent blood clots from forming and indirectly reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

What are the side effects of drinking tea?

There are quite a few side effects to drinking lots of tea, even though none of them is deadly. Some of the side effects of drinking tea are:

  • Teeth discoloration. Your teeth might be healthier from drinking tea, but they might not look the part. The colorants in tea and especially dark tea can stain your teeth. Tooth whitening substances can help with this side effect.
  • Sleep disturbances. If you start drinking tea without having been drinking any other type of caffeinated beverage beforehand you might actually have sleeping problems. Tea might have less caffeine than coffee, but for the body that hasn’t consumed any caffeine at all it can still disturb normal sleeping patterns.
  • Constipation. Tanine contained in tea can cause constipation in some people. If you feel constipated after drinking tea you should cut down.
  • You might get all the bad side effects of high caffeine consumptions if you are an avid tea drinker. Drinking too much tea can cause headaches heart palpitations and an overall jittery feeling.

Side effects of tea drinking occur only in those who drink far too much or are totally unused to drinking caffeinated drinks. If by any chance tea makes you feel bad you should simply cut down or stop drinking all in all.

Conclusion

Tea is a very fun and tasty beverage to drink. It is extremely popular all over the world and can offer many benefits if it is consumed in moderation. A cup of tea per day can stimulate you and relax you at the same time, offering you a boost of antioxidants and some vitamins.

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