Tea-ming with stress? Put the kettle on

“There is no trouble so great that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea” – Bernard-Paul Heroux

October 13, 2011

Deadlines are looming, productivity is reaching an all time low and the general hullabaloo of city life is beginning to grind. All you want is a nice cup of tea. Sound familiar? Well, it seems you do right to reach for the kettle in pursuit of a stress relief.

According to Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, two physicians who are also regulars on U.S. daytime television, the secret lies in compounds called polyphenols.

A type of antioxidant, polyphenols are found in tea by the oodles. In their book You Stress Less , released earlier this month, Roizen and Oz explain that there is much to be gained from the humble cuppa.

Polyphenols are thought to be responsible for tea’s ‘perk up’ quality. It is true that tea contains some caffeine. However, comparison tests between black and green teas have ruled out caffeine as the candidate for the ‘perk-me-up molecule’. Green tea has only a third of the caffeine in black tea. Despite this, drinkers of green tea appreciate a similar energy boost — leaving polyphenols as the leading contender.

Energy boosting and stress relief are not all that polyphenols are good for. Researchers have associated polyphenols with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Lowered blood pressure, better functioning of blood vessel cells and a lower chance of blood clots could all be benefits of drinking tea.

By the way, if tea is not your cup of tea, there are other ways to enhance your polyphenol intake. Red wine, for instance, has many of the same beneficial compounds — and is another stress relief mechanism employed by many of us.

In order to squeeze the most out of your cuppa, you should switch to green tea, which contains as much as 40 percent polyphenol per cup. A cup of black tea on the other hand is only 10 percent. However, if you do insist on black tea, try and keep it black. Milk has been shown to hold back the full benefits of tea.

There are other advantages of drinking tea. The ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of tea are much less extreme than coffee and if you believe the hype about antioxidants, they could help you to fight off the beginnings of cancer.

On that note, I urge you to pop the kettle on and kick back for five minutes as I leave you with a few words of Gladstone. “If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.”

About the Author

Benjamin Plackett

Benjamin Plackett is proud native of North Yorkshire, England and a graduate of Imperial College London with a B.Sc. honors degree in biology with a year in Europe. He loves writing about all things science, but has a particular penchant for health and also political stories. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter: @BenjPlackett



Tom Hills says:

I definitely employ the red wine effect far too often! But, when the wine is free, surely it has an even better outcome?

Simone Plackett says:

More reasons for me to get on the tea drinking wagon then! Although red wine is more my cup of tea!

NC Law says:

Hot tea for breakfast, iced tea for lunch, wine for dinner. I’ll be stress free in no time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The Scienceline Newsletter

Sign up for regular updates.