black&white #47: Why does tea make you feel better?
5 minute steep
Firstly, we wish our much-valued subscribers, customers and trade partners a very happy, healthy 2023. For many, this week is a post-festive return to regular life with January, the go-to month for a reset. Even if not going the full dry, veganuary, small adjustments to eat less meat and drink better tea can be a great step towards improved, long term, lifestyle changes.
We talk a lot about the ethical and environmental benefits of high grade teas and why they just taste better, but from a more objective perspective, can tea actually make you feel better?
Tea is often a comforting routine we use as a pause in our day, but while tea drinkers have testified to its mood-enhancing and brain-boosting qualities for centuries, is there any science behind this?
There is a stack of research on the beneficial effects of tea on physical health, but more recently scientists have focused on the effects of tea on mood and cognition. As early as 2007, research showed that drinking tea could lower the stress hormone cortisol. The fact that tea has a calming effect is a paradox, given that tea contains caffeine which in excessive quantities can cause an increased heart rate and restlessness. But crucially, tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which has a calming effect when consumed alongside caffeine. It also contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has a similar effect, as well as increasing attention and memory.
In 2010, a study of tea drinkers in Singapore signalled that those who drank as little as one cup of tea per week performed better at memory, attention and information-processing tasks than non-tea drinkers and coffee-drinkers, suggesting it’s the specific compounds in tea (rather than just caffeine) that has beneficial effects on cognitive function. This was echoed in 2014, when a review of the evidence concluded that the combination of L-theanine, EGCG and caffeine improved attention, alertness and other cognitive functions.
Studies around the world have found that the regular consumption of tea could improve mood and brain-function
A couple of years later, research suggested that stress was significantly reduced in participants just one hour after ingesting L-theanine – which is primarily found in green tea. More recently, in 2018, researchers found that those who regularly drank green tea in a healthy Korean population were 21% less likely to develop depression over their lifetime than those who were non-drinkers. And in 2019, a study investigating the association between tea consumption and depression among Chinese older adults found that the consistent and frequent drinking of tea could effectively reduce the risk of depressive symptoms for the Chinese elderly.
This weight of evidence concludes that in healthy populations the compounds in tea are likely to have a positive effect on mood, can help reduce stress and improve focus, concentration and memory. So drinking tea is the good news story, the affordable pleasure you can keep doing - particularly now. Take advantage of our sale and stock up on large size trade packs. Cheers!