Is Tea a Magic Elixir?

Sencha - a magic elixir?

The short answer – no.

Allow me to elaborate a bit. There seems to be a popular notion afoot these days that tea is a potent and miraculous substance that can cure virtually every malady and make us all live to be two hundred years old. I’m exaggerating a bit, but if you do even the most basic research you’ll see that I’m not that far off the mark. As I was writing this, I did an online search for the terms “miracle” and “tea,” just for the fun of it, and came up with 34 million results.

Of course, if you regularly read the articles here or at my own tea site you’ll realize that I’m more or less a part of the problem. I’ve written numerous articles about various studies on tea and health, and I’m not about to turn tail and suggest that none of it was true. Part of the problem is that on the one hand there are so many well-researched studies that point to good things tea can do for us while on the other hand there are no shortage of merchants and others exaggerating these potential benefits in the interests of turning a quick profit.

The space available here is not sufficient to hash this matter out in painstaking detail. But to support my call for some perspective in this matter I’ll point to an article and to a recent study. A Web MD article about green tea and health is quite optimistic about tea’s potential benefits, but also notes “real-world evidence is lacking; most of the consistent findings about green tea’s health benefits have come out of the lab.” A recently published study goes so far as to suggest that too much of a good thing – in the form of too high a dose of highly concentrated green tea extracts – might not be such a good thing at all and might even be harmful.

I also ran across a headline recently wondering if longer steep times for green tea would increase the potential health benefits. I’m not going to dignify that with a response, and I’m not sure what the answer actually is. What I do know is that by doing so you’ll end up with a cup of green tea that’s probably not so pleasant to drink, just like the nasty medicines we used to spit out as kids.

What I’d say, in closing, is that if you’re looking for a magic elixir – tea-based or other – there are no shortage of people who’d be more than happy to sell you one. I’m content to settle for buying the best tea I can afford and enjoying the taste of it, knowing that it’s probably benefiting me in ways that are worthwhile but not quite magical.

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2 thoughts on “Is Tea a Magic Elixir?

  1. Pingback: Tea and Healthy Skin « Tea Blog

  2. Pingback: Winter Yard Work and a Cup of Tea « Tea Blog

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