Caffeine in tea more gentle than in coffee, says doctor 

The health benefits of green tea have been widely reported, but there are many other teas that also have health benefits.

Jonathan Kane, owner of the Naked Leaf located on 10th Street in Kensington, explained that green tea is in the news because the original studies on the tea’s health benefits came out of Japan, where the drink of choice is green tea.

It is a common misconception that only green tea is good for the drinker, but Kane said all teas start out the same.

“Teas are made from the same tea leaf. Whether its green, white, oolong or black, they’re just processed differently,” Kane said. “All of them have antioxidants, caffeine and benefits.Any tea can be ground up for the health benefits. If someone doesn’t like green tea but would like to make a powered tea they can purchase a tea grinder and make their own powder.

Photo by Hannah Cawsey 

“I tell people if they’re really looking for nutrition, just find teas they like and drink them throughout the day.”

Tea benefits

According to iVillage.ca, a Canadian women’s online health magazine, some of the top reasons for drinking tea are to reduce risk of heart attack and to bolster immune defense.

And the American Journal of Nutrition, states that possible benefits of consuming tea include decreasing risk of cataracts and arthritis, as well as increasing bone density.

Dr. Janette Hurley, a Calgary-based family doctor and general practitioner recommends tea to her patients all the time as a healthy addition to any diet.

“You drink in all the antioxidants and all the goodness when you drink tea,” Hurley said. “The caffeine found in tea is more gentle than the caffeine found in coffee.”

And the doctor practices what she preaches.

“My favorite tea depends on the mood and the time of day, in the morning I start off with a cup of green tea called Sky Between the Branches, which is my favorite,” Hurley said.

Hurley maintains that tea drinkers in general have reduced cholesterol levels, stronger bones and lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“I prefer using loose leaf tea because you use the whole leaf…from my point of view it is a much better form of tea.”

In addition, Hurley said, teas with artificial flavoring, over-processed teas or tea lattes won’t provide the health benefits the loose-leaf tea will.
“Regular consumption of tea appears to reduce the risk of cancer of the breast, prostate and other organs,” Hurley said.

Maximizing tea potential

Claiming any type of tea is the healthiest is subjective, but if someone is looking for the tea with the best health benefits, Kane suggested matcha.

Matcha green tea powder has many health benefits. Ground tea maximizes  vitamin and antioxidant intake.  

Photo courtsey of Steenbergs/flickr.com “[Matcha] is a very high-end green tea leaf that has been ground into a very fine powder. When you prepare matcha, you actually ingest the leaf so you’re getting maximum vitamins, antioxidants and caffeine. With regular tea, you steep it and throw the leaves out,” Kane explained.

However, any tea can be ground up for the health benefits. If someone doesn’t like green tea but would like to make a powered tea they can purchase a tea grinder and make their own powder.

Not all tea drinkers consume the hot beverage for the health benefits. A recent customer at the Naked Leaf, Brandy James, said she drinks tea because it makes her feel better.

“I do believe green tea is good for you and I drink it every day,” said James, whose favourite is a mint blend.

“I feel better when I drink tea rather than coffee and there’s always a tea for your mood.”

hcawsey@cjournal.ca