Coffee vs Tea? We'll take both
Posted by PR Neom
You're stressed...cuppa. You're tired...cuppa. You're home from holiday...cuppa. You've finished your dinner...cuppa. You're seeing friends...cuppa (okay, sometimes wine) but the point is we never need an excuse to put the kettle on!
Recent stats back us up and it’s been revealed that 165 million cups of tea are drunk every day in the UK* alone, that’s pretty mega. But as well as passing the taste test, more and more research is unfolding about how a simple brew can boost your health with the latest highlighting how drinking 4-5 cups of tea per day can increase your bifidobacteria – the ‘friendly’ gut bacteria that helps improve your immune system and helps gets rid of potentially harmful pathogens that attack the body.
How the devil does it work? Science lesson incoming… In short, tea contains plant polyphenols and these interact with the gut bacteria living in your large intestine. The bacteria feed off these polyphenols and change them into compounds that the body can absorb and use. Called ‘metabolites’ it’s these that deliver these newfound benefits. And it doesn’t matter if it’s green or black tea as despite most of the studies using green tea, black tea also contains theaflavins and thearubigins (specific polyphenols that benefit the gut).
That’s not all tea is taking credit for. These precious polyphenols have also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, dementia and anxiety. In a study at City University London volunteers were placed in stressful situations – those who didn’t drink a cup of tea immediately afterwards had a 25% increase in anxiety levels while those who did have a mug of Yorkshire ended up being 4% less stressed than they were to begin with! (See – there is truth in a brew makes everything better!).
As well as the polyphenols, caffeine plays a big part in the process and as well as calming the nerves, it can help ease aches and pains. In fact, a study quoted in Psychopharmacology showed that out of a group of adults who were subject to pain, those who consumed more caffeine on a daily basis (alongside medication) had a higher pain threshold and were less sensitive to sudden twinges and niggles. “We’ve known for years that caffeine affects the nervous system in a way that reduces the perception of anguish but now caffeine could be one helpful way to keep the edge of any soreness or discomfort,” explains Dr Carrie Ruxton of the Tea Advisory Panel.
Good to know if you’re a regular exerciser. Although you might already be au fait with downing an espresso before you hit the gym. “Caffeine stimulates the release of a hormone called adrenaline which increases the levels of fatty acids within the blood stream,” says nutritionist, Lily Soutter. “During a workout the body can utilise these fatty acids as fuel and a caffeinated beverage pre-workout may improve endurance by as much as 12%.” Although don’t go overboard – you need around 3-6mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight so do your maths first. As an FYI your daily limit is 400mg per day.
But as you well know, caffeine has other side effects too. “Our genetic profile determines how well we metabolise caffeine from both tea and coffee,” continues Lily. “For some individuals who are ‘slow’ caffeine metabolisers it may lead to jitters, disrupted sleep and negative health outcomes while ‘fast’ metabolisers excrete caffeine at a more efficient rate and may not have any side effects.” So if you find yourself buzzing after every brew, maybe steer clear after lunch time to give it enough time to metabolise before bed.
Other things we bet you want to know – does adding milk make a difference and does it matter if you get your caffeine hit from tea or coffee? “The main difference between the two is the caffeine content as the length of time you steep black tea can determine how much caffeine it contains, although on average tea generally provides slightly less than coffee,” says Lily. As for that frothy cappuccino, yes it might add a few more calories but it can add extra nutrients such as calcium so no need to force yourself to have an Americano after all!
Watch this space for other teas hitting the headlines too. With an annual increase of 80% in ‘healthy’ tea sales and demand being driven by 25-34 year old females, the market is evolving along with the research. “Most of the studies so far have been undertaken on green tea although black tea has been included and laboratory studies show promising results on a range of other tea types such as Pu-erh and Oolong so all varieties look like they could be beneficial,” concludes Dr Tim Bond from the Tea Advisory Panel.
Maybe we should think about expanding into NEOM Wellbeing teas in the future!