Tea: The Ultimate Alternative to Coffee

[Zhi Tea: 25th March, 2009]

Coffee is one of America’s favorite energy boosters. With 70-100mg of caffeine per cup, it can give you the liquid lift you¹re looking for when you’re trying to pull an all-night study session or you just need to wake up and start your day. Though coffee can be very tasty – and comes in several hundred flavors and styles including various mochas, cappuccinos and espressos – it¹s not as healthy for you as tea. Tea, in general, is a good thing, but right now we’ll talk about green tea in particular, and why it is a healthy alternative to coffee. We can start with that one word: caffeine.

Pharmacologically, caffeine is a stimulant, and its properties are what makes coffee both a blessing and, for some, a bit of a curse. For the uninitiated, taking that first sip of espresso can feel almost like a rush of adrenaline, and can elevate both energy levels and mood. However, caffeine has a dark side, too. It¹s called “crashing.” As the effects of the stimulant wear off, it can cause a person to feel tired, anxious, dizzy and/or nervous. Caffeine can even cause the heart to behave erratically in some individuals. Some people may still be in denial concerning this matter, but the plain, unambiguous fact is that caffeine is a strong, mildly addictive drug.

Green tea, on the other hand, is much healthier. Because it contains a little less than half the caffeine of coffee, it can still give you a mild jolt if you’re looking for one. However, the caffeine is just one of four key constituents in green tea (the others: tannin, essential oils and vitamins) and therefore works differently in your system than does the caffeine in coffee. The good news is that the caffeine in tea works “synergistically” with the other components to stimulate the circulation and metabolism. As more oxygen is circulated through the brain, muscle functions improve, mental activity increases and reaction time decreases.

An effective elixir, naturally

The tannin in green tea works with the caffeine to bring about a relaxing and stabilizing effect. This is because the caffeine is absorbed more slowly, thus doing away with the dread "caffeine shock" coffee drinkers know so well. In addition, the L-theanine in green tea – an amino acid, found only in tea plants and some mushrooms – has been shown to stimulate production of alpha brain waves. The alpha state that the L-theanine promotes is likened to one of “relaxed awareness,” in that it has a decided calming effect on the body without causing drowsiness or diminished mental functions.

Of course, among the most beneficial parts of drinking tea, as apposed to coffee, is the level of antioxidants that it contains, higher even than some fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants act as “cell bodyguards,” protecting you against harmful sun, pollution and even stress, by reducing the production of the oxidating criminals known as “free radicals.” Tea also contains polyphenols, which numerous studies have shown to be of value in treating cancer, countering blood disease and lowering high cholesterol levels.

As we have seen, however, avoiding or limiting the intake of caffeine, although a positive step for many, is not the only reason for choosing green tea (or any other kind) as a replacement for coffee. Particularly for those of you who are attempting to balance all the areas of your life – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual – and be consistent in your new healthy habits, integrating green tea into your diet can have a number of positive effects, remedial and ongong.

News from the laboratory

Green tea just happens to be the tea that, arguably, is most laden with health-promoting attributes. Among the antioxidants it contains is a powerful polyphenol called catechin. Catechin has been shown to possess antibiotic properties due to its role in disrupting a specific step in bacterial DNA replication. The National Cancer Institute reports that, “In the laboratory, studies have shown tea catechins act as powerful inhibitors of cancer.” So, although coffee can be quite tasty and gives you a rush of energy, it¹s not as healthy as the alternative, tea. Tea can be tasty, still give you a pleasant lift if you want one and benefit your body, too.

The most important thing, if you are doing research in a quest for a treatment or cure for yourself or a loved one, is to “stick with the science.” Anecdotal evidence, stories from patients and even physicians, has a definite role, particularly in pointing out new directions for research, as well as for the refinement of current applications. The results of clinical trials, of course, are essential to the standing of any claims made for any pharmaceutical, nutraceutical or cosmeceutical. The standard the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses is “safe and effective.”

Be careful that you do not start diagnosing and prescribing for yourself, without any objective input from one or more real, professional health practitioners – doctors, medical chemists, pharmacists or specialists in other, recognized emerging fields. It is important to have a complete health and wellness plan, and not simply react to changing physical symptoms and conditions.

Take a proactive approach, whether it is green tea or some other supplement or combination of them, by doing your homework and getting good advice. Be careful to balance taking charge of your “physical destiny” with the humility inherent in negotiating with both fate and nature. The fact is, you can change your destiny, with nature’s help. Green tea, among many other good things, can help you in a lot of ways.

About The Author:

Zhi Tea is a leading retailer of top-grade green teas online.  They provide a full line of organic and Fair Trade teas teas and tea gift baskets from around the world for you to enjoy.

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