How a Cup of Tea Benefits Your Health


Like many British-Canadians, the idea that a nice cup of tea solves everything is not a new concept for me. While this isn’t entirely true, a hot cuppa tea can offer a lot for both body and mind.

Where Tea Comes From

Where Tea Comes From

Camellia sinensis, the plant from which we get black, white, and green tea, has been cultivated for thousands of years. The leaves of this plant provide a significant source of polyphenols with antioxidant activity. The main free-radical scavenging polyphenols in tea include catechins and theaflavins, with green tea particularly high in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

The main free-radical scavenging polyphenols in tea include catechins and theaflavins, with green tea particularly high in EGCG.

Health Benefits

Health Benefits

Unlike black and white tea, green tea is not fermented and typically contains higher levels of antioxidants than black tea [1]. Green tea has been found in some studies to decrease the absorption of cholesterol and lipids in the gastrointestinal tract which suggests possible benefits for healthy weight management [2]. Several epidemiological and intervention studies also suggest that regularly drinking 5–6 or more cups of green a day could have cardiovascular and metabolic health benefits [3] [4].

It is recommended to drink tea with a meal if you have an iron deficiency since some studies have shown that excessive caffeine intake can have an effect on iron absorption [5].

The Caffeine Factor

Tea is also a source of caffeine, containing around 50 mg per cup of black tea [6]. This means that excessive consumption can have all the good and bad effects of high caffeine intake, such as a feeling of increased energy and alertness, as well as a racing heart and increased sweating.

The Caffeine Factor

During pregnancy, it is not recommended to consume more than 200 mg of caffeine a day, especially of black tea, as this is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage [7].

A Source of L-theanine

Tea is also a source of L-theanine, an amino acid that can be associated with changes in brain wave patterns. This might explain tea’s historical use as a way to cheer up those who are feeling a little blue or who have suffered a shock.

Black tea has the highest amount of L-theanine (24.2 mg/cup) compared to green tea (7.9 mg/cup), but brewing time can affect these levels [8].

So, while tea certainly isn’t the answer to every problem you might encounter, a good cuppa tea could help you face the world with a greater sense of equanimity.


[1] Cabrera, C., Artacho, R., Giménez, R. (2006). Beneficial effects of green tea–a review. J Am Coll Nutr, 25(2), 79-99.

[2] Koo, M.W., Cho, C.H. (2004). Pharmacological effects of green tea on the gastrointestinal system. Eur J Pharmacol, 500(1-3), 177-85.

[3] Thielecke, F. & Boschmann, M. (2009). The potential role of green tea catechins in the prevention of the metabolic syndrome – a review. Phytochemistry, 70(1), 11-24.

[4] Wolfram, S. (2007). Effects of green tea and EGCG on cardiovascular and metabolic health. J Am Coll Nutr, 26(4), 373S-388S.

[5] Wierzejska R. (2014). Tea and Health – a review of the current state of knowledge. Przegl Epidemiol, 68(3), 501-6,595-9.

[6] US Department of Agriculture. Beverages, tea, black, brewed, prepared with tap water. Accessed September 27, 2016. Available at:

[7] Greenwood, D.C., Alwan, N., Boylan, S., et al. (2010). Caffeine intake during pregnancy, late miscarriage and stillbirth. Eur J Epidemiol, 25(4), 275-280.

[8] Keenan E. et al. (2011). How much theanine in a cup of tea? Effects of tea type and preparation.  Food Chemistry, 125, 588-594.