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.
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