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From: Dan (
Subject:         Re: Coffee
Date: March 20, 2009 at 6:47 am PST

In Reply to: Re: Coffee posted by Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN on March 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm:

Regarding Tea (mentioned in one of the posts), here's a summary of the health effects of drinking it

Tea certainly isn't necessary for good nutrition, but neither are a lot of plants, like Kale. You can probably live a healthy life just by eating sweet potatoes, just as some people do.

At any rate I enjoy tea as a great addition to my life, regardless of the health effects. If you want to cut down on coffee it's a good choice, but the caffeine picture isn't so clear.

First, the amount of caffeine in tea varies greatly. Green can have way more than black, depending on the tea bush, climate, and growing conditions. For example, in Japanese gyokuro, the plants are shaded the last four weeks to make the tea sweeter. Shade also has the effect of the caffeine content shooting way up. If you really want a jolt try some matcha powder prepared as for the Japanese tea ceremony, yow!

Further, tea leaves are little chemical powerhouses. There are actually 3 or 4 stimulants in tea. The amazing thing about tea actually, is that there are both calming agents (theananie IIRC) and caffeine, that counteract each other. This explains why people report that tea 'calms you down while waking you up'. That's certainly what I notice, I don't get jittery from tea, but do get more calm and confident, while being more awake.

Coffee is roasted until it's burnt, which I would think reduces the mix of available compounds in it. Except for some specialty types, tea is oxidized, white tea the least, and black the most, and the evidence is that the lower oxidized types contain a more complex mix of compounds which can have a beneficial effect.

At any rate, I like tea, I find it helps me eat less (I tend to (healthy) snack too much when I'm not drinking tea), and is a net positive in my life. But I wanted to point out that the stimulant picture is much more complicated than it appears.

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