Updated: Mar 15, 2022
This is a tricky subject. At Callisto we are natural skeptics and so we hesitate to make any of the various claims associated with tea over the years: that it can cure or prevent cancer, that it boosts the immune system, that it’s good for the heart or aids digestion. Does drinking tea play a role in any of these? It might! But the simple fact is that people have been drinking tea for thousands of years, and they have not achieved immortality as a result. That said, life is complex, and it’s difficult to get a complete picture of all the biochemical processes, how they interact, and how the variety of compounds found in tea may affect them.
Studies of the health benefits of tea are ongoing, but there are some things we know for sure. For example, tea contains caffeine, a psychoactive chemical whose affects we are all aware of. But tea contains another psychoactive chemical less commonly studied: theanine, or L-theanine. Tea is one of the only sources of theanine, which has been linked to relieving stress and anxiety. We don’t mind saying this because it’s something tea drinkers have long known: tea relaxes you. But the combination with caffeine, which can boost mood, attention and alertness, is what makes tea so magical. It gives you energy, without the edge. Focus without pressure. Clarity. [one of many sources for this: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18681988/] Tea is also high in antioxidants like catechins (particularly less oxidized teas like green), which may benefit the immune system. The de-stresser, theanine, has also been linked to reducing blood pressure. Fermented teas, like Dark Tea and Pu’er, contain statins that may help lower cholesterol (and fermented foods generally have been found to aid digestion). In the end, it’s a numbers game. Like washing your hands reduces your chances of getting sick, but doesn’t eliminate them. Drinking tea is one of many things that may shift the odds slightly in your favor, which is really the best we can hope for.