When there’s a nip in the air, a warm cup of tea is an easy go-to. And it’s good for your health too. But there’s more to these delicious herbal infusions that make them a good choice if you’re looking to self-soothe or even extend your life?
In the Book of Tea, 19th century scholar Okakura Kakuzo wrote that in the beginning, tea was actually used for medicinal purposes and he was right. The tea plant Camellia sinensis was used for its health benefits.
It was also a way of injecting the practice of mindfulness to the routine. This wasn’t about pleasure on a rainy day. Tea was meant to be consumed in small and slow sips as a way of living in the moment.
Today, there are many different brews that offer all that and more. Let’s see how they connect to longevity.
Tea And The Science Of Longevity
One of the benefits of tea as confirmed by science is its ability to extend life. But don’t confuse that to be a key to immortality. The way it works is that ingredients in tea help fight certain diseases and avoid some others which adds to your lifespan. So, while the connection is indirect, it exists nonetheless.
Tea has an ingredient called epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG which has a lot of health benefits because it contains polyphenol. A 2021 study showed that EGCG, among other things, could help with longevity in roundworms.
This grabbed researchers' interest along with two more controlled studies in animals along with epidemiological ones in humans. The idea was to establish specific health benefits of tea. As a result, we now know that drinking tea can reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s that are associated with cognitive development.
Green tea is one of the most popular iterations of this beverage. It is known for its medicinal qualities and ability to improve cognitive functions like better memory in the human body.
One study shows that consuming 27.5 grams of green tea on a daily basis can help increase brain activity in the parietal and frontal lobes. These parts of the brain are related to memory, learning and the ability to make decisions.
Green tea is said to get its health benefits because of polyphenols because they contain micronutrients that have antioxidant properties. These substances have the ability to defend the body against free radicals in the body which are responsible for aging in humans.
The EGCG in green tea is also responsible for fighting plaques in the brain that affect cell signaling in the brain. Studies suggest that EGCG can stop the formation of those plaques which is how they are helpful in fighting against Alzheimer’s.
Polyphenols in green tea are also known to reduce the growth of cancerous tumors which makes them an effective aid in the fight against specific types of cancer like pancreatic cancer.
Green tea is not the only herbal infusion that is good for your long-term health. Black tea, though not as popularly talked about, also has scientific backing when it comes to helping avoid health conditions like heart disease, inflammation, diabetes and cognitive impairment.
A 2016 study showed that black tea helps fight dementia, which is a neurocognitive problem in elderly Chinese people. It is also a good option for those who want to avoid type 2 diabetes. That’s because black tea has compounds called flavonoids which can reduce the risk of cancer.
Other Tea Options
Considering almost all teas come from the same plant, there are many other tea options if you are looking for antioxidants that can help thwart debilitating health conditions. Here’s a look.
Then there is jasmine tea which has the essence of green tea along with the aroma of jasmine flowers. Unsurprisingly, jasmine has antioxidant properties that are known to be a staple of populations across the planet that typically live longer than the rest of us.
These flowers also have other medicinal properties that help maintain physical and mental health, according to the authors of the bestseller Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life. The book points out that the residents of a community in Okinawa prefecture, that are known to live longer lives, love drinking Sanpin-cha which is a mix of jasmine and green teas.
The simple explanation given by the authors is that jasmine flowers and the tea plant together provide antioxidants that protect the cells from damage that is caused by aging.
The physical well-being aspect comes from the knowledge that jasmine flowers have ingredients that are known to reduce stress. That’s also why some of those compounds are used in experimental therapies. And if you just like the smell, that’s good too because it is known to calm your nerves and regulate your mood.
If you’re looking for the combination of tea and antioxidants, the search won’t last too long. And if you want the combination of tea that aids longevity, you can also try rooibos tea. Also known as redbush tea, this one is from South Africa and comes from a plant called Aspalathus linearis plant native to South Africa.
Rooibos tam is known to be good for the liver even if its antioxidant properties are not as strong as the ones you find in green tea. It is also known to be a good way to relax tension in the muscles and lower blood pressure. This might be because of flavonoids that have a compound called chrysoeriol that can fight free radicals.
Rooibos also has no caffeine unlike green and black tea which means it won’t be stimulating and can be consumed late in the evening or at night.
Those of you who enjoy a fresh cup of tea and don’t mind if it’s a little sour should also check out hibiscus tea. As the name suggests, this one is a mix of tea and the hibiscus flower. The flower itself is known for its ability to add a little kick to salads and is also used as a garnish.
But it also makes quite a contribution to these brews because hibiscus tea also has antioxidants which are good for heart health and cancer treatment. The most common variety of hibiscus tea comes from roselle or red sorrel scientifically known as Hibiscus sabdariffa, a medicinal plant.
The calyces of the plant are used for the tea variant and studies suggest that the plant’s leaves and calyces have antitumor properties which help in the treatment of cancer and antioxidant properties. Apart from heart health, hibiscus tea can also help regulate diastolic and systolic blood pressure which is the measure of blood pressure between and during heart beats.
Best Tea For Longevity: The Bottom Line
Clearly there are a lot of health benefits that come from drinking a cup of tea every day. It is important to remember that this is not a substitute for treatment but more of a home remedy for those who want to keep themselves a little healthier and out of trouble.
Some types of tea are a particularly good idea for those who have health problems like diabetes, blood pressure and are at risk of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s that are the result of cognitive impairment. And if you just like a healthy beverage, that’s a good reason to drink it too.