British Tea Favourites (ETS image)

British Tea Favourites (ETS image)

So, how much tea should you be drinking? The question is subjective, and each person will have their own answer. But are there any guidelines? It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t be drinking 150 tea bags worth of tea in a day, like the Michigan woman who did so for 17 years and ended with up with a serious bone disease.

It’s obvious that this much tea is excessive. But what if you fall far short of this amount but are still drinking a lot of tea? Well, one must start by defining what “a lot” is, and this, too, tends to be subjective. But according to a recent article in London’s Daily Mail, drinking four cups of tea a day, which some might say is a lot (not me), is better than drinking none at all.

The study cited was conducted by the Preventive and Clinical Investigations Centre in Paris. Researchers found that drinking a lot of tea – which they apparently determined was more than four cups a day – tended to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who abstained from tea. It’s thought that it’s the flavonoids in tea are what causes these beneficial effects. As the article also notes, this runs counter to other advice often given, which suggests that one should moderate one’s consumption of caffeine containing beverages.

At WebMD, the entry for black tea suggests that too much of it can lead to a variety of maladies, including “headache, nervousness, sleep problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremor, heartburn, dizziness, ringing in the ears, convulsions, and confusion.” However, it’s not so much the tea that’s at fault in such cases but its caffeine content. WebMD offers pretty much the same cautions for green tea.

In a 2007 study titled Black Tea–Helpful or Harmful? A Review of the Evidence, British researchers used studies published between 1990 and 2004 to try to determine “whether consumption of black tea has a positive or negative impact on health.” They found that drinking three or more cups a day could contribute to reduced risk of coronary heart disease. As for quantities, they noted that “a maximum intake of eight cups per day would minimise any risk relating to excess caffeine consumption.”

When writing about Twinings tea guy Stephen Twining here, I found an article in which he claimed to drink as much as 15 cups a day and remarked that less than nine cups “is a completely unsatisfactory tea-drinking day.” Nine cups of tea a day is probably about the limit for yours truly, but the bottom line is that each of us will have a different answer as to how much tea is too much. No one will argue that 150 tea bags a day – or even a third as much as that – is a good idea, but after that it’s pretty much up to our individual needs. And it wouldn’t hurt to have a little bit of common sense thrown in for good measure.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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