Nothing to Tea Here, Move Oolong: Assessing the Veracity of Tea Myths

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Myth #1: There are no negative effects to drinking tea.

Answer: False, 100%. Just like anything that you have too much of, tea can lead to some negative effects. For one, you can say goodbye to having flawless teeth. Most dentists have come to a consensus that the natural pigmentation of most teas are more likely to cling to your dental enamel, which is just a fancy way of saying that tea will stain your teeth. There’s also the  man made issue of a possible sugar overload. So, next time you’re thinking about adding that extra lump you wanted so badly, you should probably reconsider. Tea is also known to contain metabolites, ommonly known as flavolites, which tend to adhere to the iron in your body and lower your own iron levels, especially if you drink it with meals.

Myth #2: Tea does not have caffeine, so it doesn’t give you the energy of a cup of coffee.

Answer: No to the first part, but yes to the second. Contrary to popular belief, tea does contain caffeine, but in a much smaller dose than coffee naturally does (about 15-40 mg in tea, compared to 80-115 mg in a cup of coffee); so, if you are ever looking for a gentler wake-up call, then tea is certainly the way to go.

Myth #3: Tea is better for you than coffee.

Answer: Honestly, not really. To be frank, neither option is better than the other is. They each have their own pros and their own cons. Coffee contains higher levels of caffeine and can protect you from type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, and certain cancers, among others, while still being a rich source of antioxidants. However, it can also lead to dehydration (due to being a diuretic), increased cholesterol levels, generalized bone issues, and an increased risk for heart disease. (There’s also a bit of an issue for anyone with tummy issues due to coffee’s high acidity.) Tea, on the other hand, can hydrate you, help strengthen your bones, and can aid in weight loss. It can also reduce stress and strengthen your immune system, and protect you from certain types of cancer and lower your risks of heart diseases and stroke. The negatives, as I stated before, include dental staining, iron deficiency, stomach issues, an overload of sugar, and the usual caffeine jitters (though that, of course, can be found with coffee drinkers as well).

Myth #4: Tea is healthiest for you with no add-ins.

Answer: Actually, it’s not. Both citric acids—such as a squeeze of lemon juice—and honey have been shown to have more positive effects than just plain old tea. Citric acids help to preserve the flavonoids in teas, which (aside from the whole iron deficiency issue) provide many of the positive health benefits associated with tea, while honey can increase focus and mood.

Myth #5: Herbal teas are good for pregnancies.

Answer: Surprisingly, no. Well, it’s not so much of a “no” as it is a “not really”. Certain herbal teas have certain chemicals more commonly found and associated with herbal medicines, so if you do choose to drink herbals while pregnant, then you should probably do so in moderation. Drinking it is still certainly an option, seeing as it won’t cause any major harm to have a cup or two a day; however, be sure to avoid sage tea and parsley tea, which are both linked to developmental issues and miscarriages.

Myth #6: Tea does not have any expiration dates.

Answer: No, it certainly does. Generally, the recommended shelf life of tea is 6 months, so if you’re saving that good old tea bag from ’62 for a rainy day, then you probably shouldn’t get your hopes up for using it anytime soon (or ever, really…).

Myth #7: Green tea is the best tea for you.

Answer: No. The two primary arguments are that green tea is more antioxidant-rich than other teas, and that it has a lower caffeine content. The first claim is true, to an extent, but the pros of antioxidants in these teas is vastly over-hyped. The second claim completely depends on what type of tea you’re drinking, because certain types of green teas have just as much caffeine as black ta, or oolong.

 

Blog written by, Mariah Conner, high school student and member of Youth Volunteer Corps of Kansas City.

 

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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