Whether you call it a cuppie, cuppa or a brew, the health benefits of drinking a cup of tea are clearer than ever, according to Scottish research for International Tea Day on Friday May 21.
A new poll shows 77 per cent of people in Scotland say drinking tea helps to improve their mood, while 52 per cent claim it keeps them calm.
It also revealed almost half (47 per cent) of Scots share the same tea drinking habits as their parents, meaning health benefits – from cognitive and brain health to protection of heart and gut function – can carry down generations.
Dr Carrie Ruxton from Cupar, a dietitian and member of the Tea Advisory Panel who commissioned the study, says: “As well as being popular across the ages, tea provides distinct benefits for each generation.
“Studies show working age adults who drink tea improve their mental focus and memory, while older adults benefit from lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.
“Even children over the age of four years – normally given milk or soft drinks – can get a health advantage by switching to milky unsweetened tea since it contains natural fluoride which protects teeth.”
But which shade of tea is best for your health?
Should we be aiming for a milky cuppa for a calcium boost – or just plain tea?
Dr Ruxton says: “A review comparing the literature study concluded milk does not impact the health benefits of tea. Milk is digested by the body, so any complex/association formed in the cup is broken down minimising any impact.”
She says tea is also proven to have gut health effects: “Drinking green tea boosted gut levels of Bifidobacterium – a healthy strain of bacteria linked with metabolic health – with effects seen after just two weeks.
“This could particularly help women who tend to suffer digestive discomfort more often than men.”
The benefits of tea are so broad, the truth is drinking it as opposed to not, is best for health. Though darker shades, those brewed longer, may increase effects.
How long to leave the teabag in for max health benefits
Tea Advisory Panel research shows a third of younger people leave the teabag in for longer than their elders – far better for extracting the maximum number of polyphenols.
GP, Dr Gill Jenkins, explains: “Research shows tea components, especially polyphenols, influence brain health, mood and cognitive function by relaxing blood vessels and improving their function.
“This lowers blood pressure and brings more nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Tea polyphenols are also anti-inflammatory and deliver antioxidant effects which protect brain cells from damage.”
It’s the cuppa that crosses the generations! The natural fluoride is good for children’s teeth while grandparents benefit from the polyphenols helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. More research needed. #TeaAndHealth #InternationalTeaDay https://t.co/KNnDHZlApt #ITD21May pic.twitter.com/EgEYLXl8DW
— Tea Advisory Panel (@TeaAdvisoryPan) May 13, 2021
Dr Ruxton agrees: “On the perfect brewing time, there will be advice on the packet from the people who blend the tea for optimal taste. It’s the tea solids – bringing colour and taste – which also bring health benefits, so brewing longer will help maximise benefits.”
Up to five minutes is usually the recommended brewing time for hot water tea. The longer you brew the more bioactives you get though this creates a stronger taste.
“The health benefits also come from longer-term consumption with two or three cups a day helping to reduce the risks of developing health conditions such as type 2 diabetes,” says Dr Ruxton.
More than half of Scots polled say they feel cosy, happy and relaxed – as well as energised – when they get the first sniff of a freshly brewed cuppa.
Dr Ruxton concludes: “All the evidence on tea means drinking three to four cups of tea a day could benefit all ages.
“Yet, as our poll revealed, most people are still unaware of these benefits and simply
drink tea because it makes them feel good.
“Whether we’re enjoying a cuppa alone or with friends and family on International Tea Day this Friday, it’s time to celebrate the health benefits our humble cuppa provides to both young and old.”