Whenever life throws me a curve ball, the first person I call is my mother. And after listening patiently, her advice is always the same: make a cup of tea and relax.
It took me a few years to fully appreciate her method, perhaps because life was a lot less complicated when I was in my early twenties. At thirty, and in the wake of the emotional and physical toll of living through a global pandemic, my daily ritual of brewing a cup of tea whenever I need it has never been more crucial to helping me maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit.
Settling down on the couch with a hot cup of tea in hand is beneficial in more ways than one. I am compelled to find a seat, slow down and take a breath. And while the act of consuming a warm beverage may be all the comfort I need, both mentally and physically, I have often wondered if tea has medically proven superpowers. Here is what I found out:
Five health benefits of Tea
1. Low in kilojoules
This is great news because it offers an alternative way to keep your body hydrated if you struggle to drink two litres of water daily. However, how you make your tea matters. By adding sugar and milk, the number of kilojoules will shoot up, and the health benefits will be negated, even if you are getting in the recommended eight glasses of liquid a day.
2. Rich in Antioxidants
Every day, the natural process of oxidation of cells in the body leads to the production of free radicals. These free radicals are the main culprits in the formation of inflammation and disease. Antioxidants are little soldiers that are believed to play a role in preventing chronic ailments and even reversing signs of ageing.
3. Heart Health
According to findings, drinking tea regularly is associated with lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and therefore a reduced risk of chronic heart disease.
4. Brain Health
Tea contains unique amino acids that may boost cognitive function, promote memory retention, increase alertness, decrease anxiety, and help you relax. All these benefits combined may well improve the quality of your sleep, too.
5. Diabetes prevention
Studies have suggested that the antioxidants found in tea could help regulate blood sugar and therefore help reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
What about the risks?
Everything in life is most beautiful when moderation is exercised. While drinking tea regularly may provide much needed health benefits and contribute to overall wellness, be careful not to consume too much as the caffeine content may make you jittery and disrupt all that wonderful sleep I mentioned earlier. Therefore, I reach for a herbal blend when I plan on drinking more than one cup.
My favourite when life becomes particularly stressful? Rooibos.
Naturally caffeine – free and sweet, it is ideal for pregnant women and those who simply do not enjoy the taste of water. Drinking rooibos regularly may even assist in weight management by increasing levels of leptin- the hormone that signals to the body it is full after a meal.
At the end of the day…
…I would never presume to argue with the science. There is plenty of research still that needs to be done when it comes to tea. However, what I am sure of is this: when I am overwhelmed, fatigued, riddled with flu, or simply suffering from a headache, I will always find a bit of magic in a teacup!