The science behind the nation’s favourite drink: Tea

10/04/2019 - 06:00
When we talk about enjoying a cuppa, we usually talk about its flavour. However, there’s a multitude of sensory conditions that contribute to that moment of euphoria, as you take that first sip.

King’s College London’s biomedical science graduate, tea scientist and director of National Tea Day (21 April) Bernadine Tay shares her secrets around the scientific factors that contribute towards that moment savored by the nation morning, noon and night.

Tea is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and stress

Studies have shown that a single cup of tea can significantly reduce anxiety levels after suffering a stressful experience, providing a calming effect for the individual concerned. A study, conducted at City University London, confirms what millions of tea-lovers have long believed – that if you are upset or anxious, it pays to make a brew.

The experiment at the centre of the study, which placed volunteers in stressful scenarios, showed a 25% increase in anxiety levels in volunteers who did not consume tea immediately after the stress-inducing event. Conversely, those who were given tea actually demonstrated a four per cent decrease in stress levels.

And so is boiling the kettle!

As well as the soothing qualities of the tea itself, the act of putting the kettle on also helps by tapping into a collective conscious and symbolism.

There is biochemistry in the ‘Britishness’ too…

Further psychological tests and focus groups conducted indicate that tea’s calming benefits aren’t just a question of biochemistry – but also a matter of its ‘Britishness’.

Tay said: “The ritual of making and drinking tea - particularly during times of stress - is at the very core of British culture. This study shows that the social psychological aspects of tea enhance the effects of its chemical make-up on our bodies and brains. It’s possible that this culturally rooted, symbiotic function between mind and body explains why Britons instinctively turn to tea in times of need.”

And lets not forget the polyphenols

Tea contains high levels of polyphenols, which are the natural compounds extracted from tea leaves. These powerful antioxidants have shown a number of beneficial properties - such as reducing the risks of cancer and heart disease, alleviating cognitive impairment and showing antidepressant-like activity.

With National Tea Day 2019 fast approaching, it’s time for our nations favourite drink to shine!

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