The health benefits of tea

Beyond the obvious characteristics of tea, with their spectacular variety of aromas and flavours and antioxidants, you may also be interested in the health benefits of tea for the immune system.

A brief history…

The humble cup of tea has an incredible story that dates back thousands of years.

When people think of tea, they often think of it as a modern beverage that orginated in the times of Imperial trading in India.

The truth is that tea has been around for much longer than that. The earliest recorded mention of tea was over 4,000 years ago!

When we refer to “Tea”, we refer to variety of leaf that is produced from the Camellia Sinensis plant species.

These globally recognised types of tea are White Tea, Green Tea, Yellow tea, Black tea, Oolong tea and Puerh tea.

The Camellia Sinensis is an adaptable plant and tolerant to various climates.

It grows in cool and shady forests, warm and sunnier temperatures as well as more challenging environments which give the resulting loose leaf tea unique character.

While there are a couple of theories around the first discovery of tea, the origin dates back to 2,737 BCE in China.

The word spread beyond the borders of China into neighbouring countries, throughout Asia and eventually into the West and the modern world.

An example of this involves the Buddhist monks who were tea drinkers. In 805CE, they introduced tea into Japan after a pilgrimage to China.

It was believed to help them stay awake during long meditations and considered to promote a sense of wellbeing. In fact, most monks drank tea daily and they still do today.

The ritual and of drinking tea is widely celebrated enjoyed in the form of Tea Ceremony.

Promoting awareness and appreciation for “the moment” and harmony.

When we refer to tea, we refer to loose leaf tea and not commercial tea bags.

Tea leaves produce a much better flavour profile when brewed properly.

You may also be wondering about herbal tea drinks such as chamomile tea.

These are normally made from leaves, roots and flowers and are actually called tisanes and are caffeine free.

Over centuries we have unlocked some of the medicinal properties and health benefits of tea, but our knowledge continues to evolve as science and traditional knowledge uncover more secrets.

So what are the health benefits of tea?

Woman pouring green tea into a glass from a traditional gaiwan outside in a garden

Apart from the general feeling of comfort and wellbeing when you enjoy a cup of tea, you could also be giving your body some great tools to fight a number of diseases, ailments and condition. I’m going to list some of the health benefits of tea.  Next time you go for your morning coffee, you may now think twice and opt for the amazing choices on the tea menu!

Caffeine – As it is a stimulant, it can help enhance concentration and reduce fatigue. Caffeine acts differently to coffee. It is absorbed more gradually and uniformly. The caffeine in tea is slowly absorbed stimulating the central nervous and cardiovascular system. Caffeine binds with tannins in the infused tea, resulting in a stable release over a longer period. Caffeine in coffee binds with different substances which affect the coronary system and circulation, rapidly stimulating the heart rate, for more of an excitant effect (1 – Tea – Gascoyne et al)

Tea is a great source of L-Theanine, an amino acid that can help reduce stress or anxiety. Another reason why tea is health promoting is that it contains many vitamins and minerals



Catechins and Flavonoids – Tea contains high levels of Polyphenols, including flavonoids commonly known as tannins. Flavonoids contain catechins; ECGC being the most powerful.

Flavonoids produce antioxidant properties that help protect the body against cell damage, neutralising free radicals that could cause cancer. Flavonoids can also have an astringent effect on the body’s tissue.

Tea may assist the immune system, reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, balance body temperature and detoxify the body. It may also help with Type 2 diabetes and has anti inflammatory properties. Tea could help heart health by strengthening vascular walls, activating circulation, reducing blood pressure, and reducing the risk of coronary heart disease

Oral health 

  • tea can help reduce and inhibit bacteria in the gums and mouth
  • Could increase bone density
  • Contributes to a healthy metabolism and promote weight loss.

Although the antioxidant levels can vary dependent on the tea variety (Green tea contains a significantly higher concentration of polyphenols and catechins), overall, the health benefits of tea vary according to your choice.

Now you have even more reasons to get on the bandwagon and join the tea party!

(1) Tea-History Terroirs Varieties Third Edition p264 Gascoyne, Marchand, Desharnais, Americi (2018)

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