Tea 101: Drink to Your Health!
Yes — sort of. Tea is an excellent source of antioxidants. While it's hard to make a general comparison, a rough estimate suggests that two servings of tea equal one serving of your average antioxidant-packed veggie. But because nearly 95 percent of tea's polyphenol compounds are flavonoids, tea ranks among the plants with the highest total flavonoid content. Green tea contains more simple flavonoids, called catechins, while black tea contains more complex varieties, called thearubigins and theaflavins. And don't be discouraged because the Food and Drug Administration refused to allow green tea labels to claim health benefits; the agency simply felt that more studies were needed to justify the claim that green tea has the ability to lower the risk of cancer.
Does tea have more caffeine than coffee?
No. A 6-ounce cup of tea usually contains 25 to 60 milligrams of caffeine, less than the typical 100 milligrams found in 6 ounces of coffee. However, in its dry form, tea does come out ahead of coffee, pound for pound, with regard to total caffeine, giving rise to the belief that tea is highly caffeinated. At the point of consumption, though, coffee contains more caffeine.
Is green tea the healthiest of all teas?
Green tea is traditionally thought to have the highest amount of antioxidants — so it has the best reputation. However, a preliminary study at Oregon State University indicated that white tea may actually have more antioxidant power than green. A separate study conducted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong suggests that black tea has the same level of antioxidants as green tea. Do you need to drink 10 cups a day to benefit? Some Chinese homeopathic health practitioners advise 10 cups per day, but a lot of research suggests that that much isn't necessary. For example, just two cups of tea provide as much antioxidant power as a serving of vegetables, and research indicates that metabolism speeds up after five cups.
Does tea help you burn calories?
One study showed that participants who drank five 10-ounce servings of tea burned an additional 67 calories a day compared with those who drank an equal amount of water.
Green tea may burn extra calories and oxidize fat, perhaps because of the compound epigallocatechin gallate. One study found that green tea extract increases metabolism and fat burning at a rate of almost 80 calories per day. Another recent study, from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrated that tea containing 690 milligrams of catechins significantly reduced body fat after 12 weeks. However, I wouldn't give up on eating a healthy, low-cal diet just yet. This is a preliminary study and has yet to be corroborated — and tea won't erase extra doughnuts and cookies!