I had the privilege of listening to (and even speaking briefly with) Mark Blumenthal, the founder and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council. Mr. Blumenthal reviewed the recent clinical and epidemiological research regarding the health benefits of tea.
It is truly staggering, the increasing amount of research being devoted to the connection between tea drinking and good health. And it is difficult to ignore the daily reports about tea’s potential. Of course, as Mr. Blumenthal emphasized during his lecture, it is very important to draw conclusions conservatively and not to read too much into the results of small studies.
As an example of the incremental nature of research, a WebMD feature authored by Jeanie Lerche Davis cited a study in which tea-drinkers’ and coffee-drinkers’ immune cells were exposed to germs in a Petri dish. In the tea drinkers, the immune cells immediately activated. However, there was no such response in the coffee drinkers’ immune cells.
This study of course suggests that tea drinking may boost the body’s immune function. However, it’s important not to extrapolate too much from individual studies such as this one. Though research like this is very, very promising, it will take years and perhaps decades of research to verify all the potential connections.
Nevertheless, there are certain things that we tea drinkers can take to the bank. Even if you put aside the proliferating studies showing that tea can boost metabolism, block allergic response, slow tumor growth, protect bones, improve skin, etc., etc., it is nonetheless clear that a connection between tea and good health exists. The WebMD feature mentioned above also quoted John Weisberger, Ph.D., the senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y. Dr. Weisberger found that both green and black tea are rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that seek out free radicals that can damage normal cells. Dr. Weisberger further estimated that green and black teas have 10 times the antioxidants that fruits and vegetables have.
Whatever research uncovers and verifies in the future, we know for sure that antioxidants are helpful to the body, and that tea contains antioxidants. You can rest assured that your tea is a wholesome drink!