When I teach tea classes, they are usually around 90 minutes long and I cover several topics ranging from origin stories to types of tea to brewing methods. I greatly enjoy the parts where I get to cover the health enhancing qualities of tea. I could speak 90 minutes on that subject alone. That being said, I’m going to challenge myself with narrowing it down to my top 5 healthy reasons to drink the delicious beverage we know as tea. Without further adieu, here goes!
1) Without going into all the science, let me just tell you that the beverage made with our friend, Camellia Sinensis, is more hydrating than plain water. Electrolyte balancing characteristics of tea make for better hydration of your beautiful body. Begin the day with tea and you are already taking care of your health is several ways - good hydration is key to so many functions in our body, including healthy, younger looking skin.
If one imbibes in alcohol, tea remedies the dehydration that can occur. Counter it by consuming tea along side your libations and also after drinking. You’ll thank me the next time you don’t wake up with a hangover.
2) Want to maximize your workouts? Drink a few cups of tea prior to your session. Not only does this aid in hydration (see above), but the tea will also gently unlock some energy stores in your body, giving you more umph to push harder and maximize your workout. Other compounds within the leaf will also help you burn more fat throughout your workout and throughout the day with steady, non-jarring energy with no crash.
3) So many of our health issues begin in the process of digestion. In the West, so many people are consuming cold liquids (and too much of it) before and during a meal. This habit cools digestive fire and waters down important enzymes and acids needed to get the nutrients out of our foods. We are also not chewing thouroughly as we hurry through a meal and we need to “wash down” our food, using cold liquid as a plunger to get the food pushed down into our overworked stomachs.
Drink hot tea (4 to 8 ounces) during a meal and the digestive fire stays high without important enzymes getting diluted so that digestion can occur optimally. Slow down and chew, being mindful of the fact that you are eating. By sending well-masticated food to the stomach when we eat, we are saying “I love you digestive system and I don’t want to you to have to work so hard. Thank you!”
4) In Chinese medicine, every food and drink is seen as having a “thermal nature.” In a nutshell, this means that a food can be warming, cooling or neutral in its impact on our organs and bodies. The least processed teas (white, green, yellow, greener oolongs) are known to have a cooling thermal nature. Drink these teas in the warmer months and the body will be cooler. Drinking that tea hot, during the summer months also kicks in the cooling system in the body. When we use iced beverages during the summer, we trick the body into thinking that it doesn’t need to use its internal A/C.
In the cooler months, switching to darker oolongs, black tea and ripe pu’er tea will help us warm up because they have a a warming thermal nature, helping us to maintain strong body warmth when we need it the most. It’s like a liquid blanket.
5) Cleanly grown tea can be a valuable part of your healthy lifestyle by helping you to fight the free radicals, thereby enhancing the odds that cancer is kept at bay. Study after study is showing that free radicals are linked to plenty of serious and chronic illnesses such as arthritis, cancer and diabetes. The antioxidants made available to the body with tea, white and green teas in particular, help the body fend off the free radicals. Some studies are even showing that the ECGC in tea help kill off cancer cells.
Healthy reasons aside, my favorite reason for drinking tea is that I love the taste, the culture, the lore, the process so much. Sharing tea and connecting to the moment decreases stress and helps us be able to handle this wild and crazy life in a more effective and loving manner. And that, my friends, also helps us get and stay healthy.
Wishing each of you boundless energy and vibrant health,