Hot drinks are a staple of the British diet and as such, we will almost always come into contact with someone selling something magical to us, but as Brits, we’re naturally sceptical toward anyone who screws with our brews.
Tea is fantastic, most of us are used to having a morning brew, an afternoon pick-me-up or a ritual cuppa at some point of the day, however, now, more than ever, people are trying to convince us to try detox, skinny, diet, super brain and cleanse teas.
Most of this is all rubbish.
Whilst tea is tea, I firmly stand by my opinion that MOST claims of these products or “blends” have no quantifiable effect, there are some that show some potential for having active compounds within them and the odd ones that certainly do.
If you decide you wish to address “fatigue” or “sickness” with a herbal remedy, I strongly suggest you seek a GPs advice, ongoing fatigue can be more than just “a poor diet” and certain compounds like those found in Liquorice root or grapefruit have the potential to interact with medicines and drugs you may be taking.
I may be a biologist, but I am not a doctor or pharmacologist. and cannot advise you on those issues.
There is a lot more to the humble cup of tea than most people think, various “teas and brews” have Wildly differing effects depending on the Contained compounds and nutrients that are absorbed and for example, benefits from compounds such as antioxidants or teas rich in the amino acid L-theanine, I’m going to touch on a few different teas that get great fantastical claims about them thrown around and really take these arguments back down to earth again.
There is no fat-loss-skinny-making-super-detox tea, unless you brew up your leaves along with laxatives, Teas are great, but they don’t have super powers.
It is also important that quality is taken into account, better quality yeas often taste better and retain more of their beneficial compounds due to, arguably this is of negligible impact, I do find though, the fairly traded teas tend to taste best, I couldn’t say why,… organic produce, whilst there is a lot of argument over this being of any benefit with most foods, the coffee and tea has some more emotive arguments for it…
A note on caffeine levels:
Herbal teas and low caffeine teas, often contain far less tannins, (which green tea is high in) but does still contain all the flavonoids andtioxidants (aspalathin, catechin, luteolin, quercetin, and so on).
The compounds Quercetin and luteolin are also promoted as well known anti carcinogens, So I guess that’s a decent reason to sip up!
However, take note: Tannins have been linked to limiting absorption of some minerals in the diet, whilst this is generally not an issue – sometimes it can be a good idea to gently move a habitual tea drinker away from stronger teas and onto lighter herbal teas and white tea, some suggest that pregnant women or people in high stress situations avoid heavy, strong tea drinking and perhaps those on severely reduced calorie diets might re-consider slamming too many strong tea-drinks.
Naturally low caffeine teas:
So, sleep, rest, recover and stress are as sexy to talk about now as they always have been – I must apologise for not using the “H” word though, despite it making my writing far less “sexy”
We’re going to avoid that today, it’s a buzz word. (The “H” word, is “Hormones”)
For those who find it hard to shake the hot-drink habit, it might be a good idea to switch your afternoon drinks for something less stimulating.
Lapsang souchongs and all souchongs varieties and “hojicha” a green tea that is available in most speciality tea shops come in as very low on the caffeine level.
Rooibos, red bush, bushmans, red-tea – whatever name you might find it by is also caffeine free (and tastes lovely) I will happily drink it with or without milk myself at any time of the day.
Most Herbal teas are also, low caffeine or caffeine free and suitable any-time of the day (in general) as some herbal teas have relaxing properties or revitalising properties, use judgement when drinking these!
Yerba mate tea, is obviously, quite stimulating!
Buy From: Rooibos tea is available in most supermarkets (Dragonfly tea – is my go-to choice)
Souchongs would be found in the more specialist shops or “posh” collections.
Green Tea: One of the oldest brews going, green tea is made using the unbaked leaves from the tea-plant; it has a stronger flavour and a much higher tannin and antioxidant content, as well as being a great source of caffeine.
An extra cup of fluid from green tea each day never hurts and people often report it as a strong weight-loss booster, which obviously will contribute to great health.
Weather this be from the increased buy-in you get when you actively start drinking “a healthy tea” or the caffeine helps with your appetite, or the habitual drinking leads to a hundred calories a day extra burnt, we can’t say, but, it doesn’t hurt to go all hippie sometimes and embrace a healthy tea.
Frankly, teas are the closest thing to actual superfoods that we have (and super food is a marketing term coined to sell funny coloured, sour tasting berries to middle class people with leftover puppy fat.
Note: Try not to drink green tea on an empty stomach.
Buy From: All supermarkets, look for the brands “Pukka” and “Clipper” for reliable quality aswell as “Teapigs” are pretty nice!
Not a tea you’d generally drink for pleasure, rosehip naturally contain a huge dose of vitamin C and smaller doses of vitamin A, people generally reach for rosehip for it’s “immune system boosting properties” and helping those with high stress and demanding lifestyle.
Let’s not confuse anything here, there is SOME evidence that mega dosed vitamin C before the onset of a cold can help stave it off and vitamin C can aid with other minerals being absorbed in the diet, which could in-turn help for example, low iron levels that could have been making someone feel a little “under the weather” – so, there’s always a way to “explain away” a magic claim, so don’t think that “this tea will stop me being sick” it wont, but it has these “properties” if you like.
However these properties are only really true of fresh rose-hip, so unless you are quite “James Wong” about your food (I absolutely love James Wong, his twitter feed is amazing) – it is unlikely store bought varieties will do much good for you, more than maybe help with water retention and mild alleviation of IBS symptoms, as they also have anti spasmodic properties and laxative effects.
So when do people reach for rosehips? Generally during times “under the weather” and as a pick-me-up during periods of high stress or stomach distress.
Buy From: Health food stores or home-made. Source the book “Grow your own drugs” by James Wong, for instructions on how to make your own concoctions like this one or ask in your local health store, but do take a lot of claims with a pinch of skepticism
Dandelion tea and other preparations: Dandelion root is well known for its potent diuretic effects and as such, capsules of the preparation have been used for a long time in water loading protocols.
This mild diuretic flushing can have a beneficial effect on renal health, but bear in-mind that you will create mineral imbalances if you take excessive amounts in a short period of time, without properly hydrating, basically, of all the teas and capsules and “herbal drugs” you’ll come across in the high street, this one might actually do as claimed, so, take precautions here.
Used: In high concentrations in certain pre-stage protocols, or as a soothing cleansing drink any time of the day.
Tulsi Tea – Holy Basil tea – an Indian herbal tea touted as an adaptogen that can aid in reducing and recovering from stress and trauma, the holy basil plant has had much attention in the last few years, none of which have transferred to human trials. But hey, a cup of tea will always help you recover from anything, if you’re British.
People tend to advocate the use of Tulsi Tea at any time of the day, during periods of intense training or stress , such as when changing job, lifestyle routine or suffering from an illness… just like regular tea to be honest.
Buy From: Online, Amazon.co.uk stocks Tulsi Tea
Mint teas: Mint oils and thus good mint tea (best made from fresh picked leaves in hot water, can have therapeutic effects for clients dealing with the ditching of habbits, an amusing fact is that the oils, can act on certain opioid receptors in the body and be used in conjunction with craving beating plans, again mint oils are also antispasmodic and can help relax people suffering from GI issues as certain mint-oils are also, natural thinners of the blood.
Used: As a refreshing pick-me up any time of the day, or during stomach upset
Buy From: Any major supermarket will stock a variety of mints, peppermints and spearmint teas, chose one that matches your tastes.
Liquorice and adrenal fatigue; this is one we’ve heard about for years.
So… adrenal fatigue isn’t a recognised “thing” people just get tired and run down, their adrenals still work, trust me.
But, it is reported that those who experience an evening dip of energy, despite following a good, controlled diet, that should be yielding sufficient energy levels, who also find they get poor sleep quality (it’s that tired/wired feeling of not being able to get into a deep sleep) see improvements, when drinking liquorice tea preparations.
The way it supposedly works, is that liquorice compounds have the ability to inhibit the degradation of circulating cortisol in the liver, meaning this
catabolic, wakefulness promoting hormone (sorry “h” word) is prolonged, in the belief that some people “don’t produce enough” which is why they slump.
Now, my concern here is that people who slump regularly in the evenings could be….
Not getting enough Sleep
Diabetic (and not knowing)
Have a Medical issue (thyroid)
Have Iron level issues
Basically, it could be indicative of something serious, don’t let an online nutritionist prescribe you tea, to treat your tiredness without seeking a doctors advice.
Sourcing of teas:
For almost all varieties of basic teas, companies like “Teapigs” whilst costly, really do have the highest quality teas. Clipper provides good quality teas, however these are often lower-quality baked blends.
Your best bet, when selecting teas, is the health food store, these are a lot more mainstream than “good coffee” and thus health stores have a number of brands that have high quality measures and use specialist ingredients.
So there we go, next time you pop into the shops, take a little look at the huge variety of teas and herbal blend stocked, I’ve touched on but a few of the many out there, the act of brewing up a cuppa and enjoying it is in itself, a healthy little ritual.