Tea is among the most popular social drinks in the world. There is some type of this drink for every occasion – be it organic, green, black, oolong, cold brew, or milk teas. In other words, it is popular and widely consumed. But have we considered its effects on our health? Here’s a look at its benefits and possible risks.
WHAT IS TEA?
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared with cured leaves of an evergreen shrub called Camellia sinesis. It is, by far, the most widely consumed beverage in the world – second only to water, maybe. They are divided into these different varieties based on certain unique characteristics and also on how it is processed.
There are six main types of teas – white, yellow, green, oolong, black, and fermented. White is wilted and unoxidized, yellow is unwilted and unoxidized, and green is the same as yellow but is green in color. Oolong is wilted, bruised, partially oxidized, black is wilted, crushed, and fully oxidized, and fermented teas are dark. Each of these different teas are prepared and brewed in different ways in region-specific ways. The flavor of the tea also varies according to how the tea leaves are harvested, grown, and processed. It is similar to coffee and has caffeine content which makes it a stimulant. This is also rich in substances like caffeine, and polyphenols like flavonols, catechins, and theaflavins. Polyphenols give the leaves a distinct flavor and aroma. They usually don’t have any significant amount of nutrients, except for these polyphenols.
Tea has an illustrious history attached to it because there are so many different varieties of the drink. The earliest recorded evidence of tea drinking was in China in the 3rd century AD. It came into Europe in the 16th century through Dutch traders. And in the 17th century, it became popular in Britain where the concept of afternoon tea came into being.
ADVANTAGES OF TEA
Tea is often seen as a social drink. It is commonly consumed as the beverage of choice during social gatherings and meetings between family and friends. It is seen as a sign of hospitality in countries like the United Kingdom, India, China, Russia, and Japan. Several regions like India and the United Kingdom observe the custom of serving it to their guests on arrival. This is also evidenced by its popularity over the years.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Group on Tea, world tea production (black, green, instant, as well as others) increased by 4.4 percent annually over the last decade to 5.73 million tonnes in 2016.
Boosts Immune System
Consumption of tea helps boost our immune system. Different types of teas and different characteristics that support the immune system. For instance, green tea helps with inflammation. It has also been suggested that green and black may help against cancer. So drinking tea goes a long way in the healthy balance of gut bacteria which protects our bodies from harmful diseases. As a result, it keeps our immune system intact.
Another important advantage of tea that makes it very popular is that it has a calming effect on the drinker. It helps in reducing stress and anxiety that one may experience. Similarly, it also helps in concentration and focus which further helps an individual with good mental health.
Lowers Risk of Certain Diseases
There are several health benefits of consumption of tea. It is among the few natural beverages in the world that does not contain any salt, fats, or any other high calorific substance. There have been several studies to see the correlation between drinking tea and health. And some of these studies have stated that this beverage is known to reduce the risk of certain diseases. These include diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, life-threatening cancers, etc. Tea drinking is, therefore, encouraged to boost health and to lower the risk of harmful diseases.
DISADVANTAGES OF TEA
Certain Health Concerns
A big drawback of drinking tea is that it certainly raises some health concerns. Excessive consumption of tea can have negative effects on one’s body. These effects include heartburn, irritation, confusion, nervousness, and certain other sleep issues. Specifically, black tea has been known to cause diarrhea, high blood pressure, heartburn, and even tumors. Drinking it creates excess gastric juices apart from the ones already produced naturally by the body. This creates a burning sensation or heartburn. It further exaggerates and stimulates the pain and burning sensation. Therefore, tea drinkers with pre-existing gastric problems should avoid it.
Additionally, studies have also shown a correlation between tea and kidney damage. As evinced above, any substance in excess can have a harmful effect on one’s body. So, it must be consumed in moderation to avoid health problems.
There are certain other side effects of drinking tea as well. People with existing conditions like iron deficiency, anemia, high blood pressure, and bowel syndrome may experience aggravations of their conditions. Pregnant women are always advised to avoid caffeinated beverages like black tea. This is because it can be detrimental to the health of the unborn child. That is to say that it may lead to miscarriages and even caffeine withdrawal issues in the newborn.
Tannin is a naturally occurring substance and organic matter found in most teas. Though tannins are good for our bodies to a certain extent, they can be harmful as well. They also create an adverse effect on our digestion and metabolism. It is also known to obstruct iron absorption through the bloodstream which can create additional health problems.
In conclusion, one must be mindful of their health. Though natural beverages like tea and coffee are healthier than most artificial beverages, they still have their disadvantages also. Therefore, moderation is key. Above all, a few cups of tea in a week can be a good stimulant to keep one active. This will also ensure no adverse health issues because of it.
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