By Claire Hou
We often associate tea with calmness and serenity. If somebody is in shock, panicking, or has gone through a traumatic event– a fluffy blanket and a warm cup of warm tea can’t go wrong.
How much of this calming effect is due to placebo and how much of it is scientifically founded? Scientists have only recently begun studying the effects of tea on people’s moods and mental health states.
Researchers have found that drinking tea lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone. Not only that, but drinking around half a cup of green tea daily seems to be correlated with lower risk of developing depression and dementia.
So what gives tea these sorts of benefits? Catechins in tea, which are antioxidants, make up as much as 42% of the dry weight of brewed green tea. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), one prominent catechin, is thought to improve memory and attention, as well as increase feelings of calmness. The amino acid L-theanine makes up around 3% of the dry weight, and has similar effects when consumed with caffeine. And as well all know, caffeine improves mood and alertness, making up to 5% of green tea’s dry weight.
Of course, these percentages vary from tea to tea, but many of the general properties and benefits remain.
Tea is increasingly becoming an area of interest for scientists as they investigate how diet and nutrition can affect mental health issues. However, ““it’s important not to overestimate the effects,” Stefan Borgwardt, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Basel, says.
Just remember– the next time you’re feeling stressed or high-strung, don’t panic and do something you’ll regret. Instead, go to your kitchen and make a nice cup of tea. It won’t solve all your problems, but it will surely help you feel better.
For an even more detailed analysis, check out:
by Daniel Wu
“Read the tea leaves”—not in a fortune-telling sense, but more in a literal sense. With tea being the second-most enjoyed beverage across the globe, the tea industry is booming. Many people drink tea every day, but are we sure that the tea giants we buy from are meeting the standards that they’ve promised?
If you go digging around you may find many things in your drink that weren’t promised, such as lead from car emissions, chemicals from coal and air pollution, and pesticides. There have even been precautionary recalls for salmonella risk. From small no-name brands to tea titans, a large portion of them seem to cut corners and bypass legal controls to certain extents.
Do some research on brands the next time you buy tea, just be aware of what may end up in your cup. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t experiment without looking for information and labels that guarantee your tea is safe to drink.
By Claire Hou
Xiaohusai is located in the deep, mountainous terrains of Yunnan Province, which is known for its rich cultural and ethnic diversity, as well as its famous pu’erh tea.
The nearest city to Xiaohusai is called Lincang, the 10th most populated city in Yunnan. About a tumultuous 2-hour car ride away, Lincang stands at the foot of the mountain Xiaohusai is located on.
Lincang is known for being humid, especially during the summer. 70% of the annual rainfall occurs during the months of June through September, so every visit to Xiaohusai at the end of the school year is a wet one. The streets are always lined with shop after shop selling raincoats and waterproof boots by the time we arrive.
It is a very charming city, from what we have seen of it. We usually spend the car-rides from the airport thoroughly conked out in the backseat, only waking up when it is time to have dinner.
Dinner, every year without fail, is at the same family-owned restaurant, at the same brick crosswalk. I have yet to see any sort of title or identifier for it, but it isn’t difficult to recognize. The kitchen is visible from where we sit down in the dining area, the sound and smell of oil sizzling in the wok strong. On the wall hangs a large styrofoam infographic about how to distinguish poisonous mushrooms from edible ones, as the nearby mountains are filled with mushrooms that can be picked and sold for money.
The wi-fi password isn’t hard to guess either. It is probably identical within a twenty-mile radius: eight eights. The traditional Chinese symbol for good fortune and great wealth.
Nearby, there are bustling markets filled with people selling fruits, vegetables, everyday necessities, and the occasional tourist good. Pointed straw hats stacked high next to a pile of oranges, plastic mats on the ground underneath a mountain of longans. The streets are dirty with rainwater, but the produce is pristine and locals bicker good-naturedly over the stands.
Many of the children we are sponsoring attend school in Lincang. They live at school during the week, and their parents pick them up by motorcycle on Friday night to go back to Xiaohusai for the weekend. It is a bit of a hassle, but the best they can do for now.
Going to Lincang from Xiaohusai is a fairly long and tedious journey, so most villagers don’t venture down that often. Still, it is there, and plays a great part in these families’ lives.