Put the kettle on: reaping the benefits from a hot cup of tea

The bone chilling January cold has settled in, and there’s no better way to fight this weather than to be drawn in by the warm embrace of a piping hot cup of tea.

January is Hot Tea Month in Canada, and we at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) know all about the benefits that can be found in your favourite cuppa. MUHC Nutritionist and Manager of Clinical Nutrition Services Deborah Fleming, says that your steaming cup of tea packs quite the punch in terms of health benefits.

  • Black tea, like Earl Grey and English Breakfast, contain a high amount of antioxidants. Consumption of these antioxidants helps to prevent the formation of free radicals in our bodies; which is what is said to be linked to the development of various forms of cancer.
  • Black tea is also rich in tannins. Tannins in combination with other ingredients found in black tea, have an anti-flammatory effect which have been shown to have positive and relaxing effects on the digestive system.
  • Even more powerful is the almighty green tea. It’s higher in antioxidants, with three times as much as black tea! This is due to the way in which it is processed. The ingredients in green tea work together harmoniously, in turn making it a mood booster that stimulates brain function.

“The combined effect of the caffeine that’s found in green tea and another chemical in the tea, which is an amino acid called Theanine, is synergistic,” says Deborah. “So that’s why sometimes when you drink green tea it stimulates you, despite it having a much lower caffeine level than coffee.”

Like everything in life, tea should be consumed in moderation to truly reap the full health benefits it offers. As Deborah explains, the addition of too much sugar, milk, or cream in tea negates many of the benefits.

There is another key physical and mental benefit that is directly linked to the act of consuming tea. The joy of taking a break!

“When you’re having a really stressful day, just taking the time to brew and drink that cup of tea helps you relax,” says Deborah.

Yet another blessing brought to us by tea in this day and age of technological hustle and bustle.

Hot Tea Month