Celebrating the power of tea

Choose green tea over sweet milky chai for healthy hydration (Courtesy: iStock)
Choose green tea over sweet milky chai for healthy hydration (Courtesy: iStock)


The fourth International Tea Day was celebrated with the launch of the #TeaPower campaign to highlight its health aspects

The fourth edition of International Tea Day was celebrated on 21 May. This year saw the launch of a new campaign #TeaPower by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on tea. A couple of years ago, when the group met to discuss how tea could be promoted better, they zeroed in on health, something that tea already is associated with. But what aspect of health? And where did tea fit in?

“Tea and health is too broad," says Shabnam Weber of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada and vice-chair of IGG. For the campaign, they sought a more defined reach and target. They chose to focus on the next generation of tea drinkers and with something that would appeal to them. “As an industry we have talked about health, but 20 year olds are not concerned with cardiovascular health or diabetes. We narrowed it down to topics that were going to be backed up by credible scientific evidence. That’s how we honed in on hydration, flavonoids, sports and fitness," says Weber. And #TeaPower came into being.

Tea has always been tagged with health; it has underlined the premise on which tea has been marketed and sold. Tea’s claim to health is that it’s a botanical that contains (some) caffeine, flavonoids (said to support heart health) and polyphenols (that have antioxidant properties). There is some science to back these claims and as part of the campaign, the IGG has created a database of available studies related to tea and health at trello.com.

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#TeaPower urges people to look at tea as a beverage that’s light, hydrating, refreshing, and flavourful. Think of tea as an alternative to plain water, a flavoured option that hydrates just as well. Or as fortified water, given it’s a source of polyphenols. To be clear, tea is not medicine but in the post-covid world, as we look at our well-being more carefully, it pairs well with physical activity, eating right, getting enough air and light, and sleep—a part of an active lifestyle.

Weber talks about how innovation in tea so far has been about how we sell it. But #TeaPower is urging us to include tea, as a beverage that you can steep and carry to work, to yoga, on a run, even when you are climbing mountains. “No sugar, no calories. That’s the hook," she says. (Of course, she’s talking about tea made with whole leaf, and not sweet, milky chai.)

And it comes with a welcome caffeine hit. At between 20-75mg of caffeine, it’s less than coffee. Also, three-four cups a day will still keep caffeine levels well below the maximum levels of 300mg per day as per dietary standards. What you should know however, is that among tea styles, some like Assam black tea, gyokuro, matcha, and silver needle have higher concentrations of caffeine than say, a green tea or genmaicha.

Reach for tea as healthy hydration, an energy boost, a cup of calm. Skip the milk and sweetener and try more leafy teas.

Tea Nanny is a fortnightly series on the world of tea. Aravinda Anantharaman is a Bengaluru-based tea blogger and writer who reports on the tea industry. She posts @AravindaAnanth1

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