Tea & Arthritis

Arthritis is a common terms that describes joint pain. While it’s often understood as a disease it can be rather seen as a symptom resulting from different causes.

For some people, arthritis could be caused by inflammation. In such a case, tea can be a easy and effective natural remedy.

What is Inflammation?

When visiting the Wikipedia page you’ll read that inflammation is described as:

A part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators.

Scientific research on mice until now concludes with pretty strong evidence that feeding mice with polyphenol rich tea reduces inflammation and thus joint pain. Does this work on humans? Well let’s believe it for now, until more conclusive research follows.

Before we head on to what tea is the most suitable, let’s have a look at the definition of tea as well.

What is Tea?

When we talk about tea, we’re referring to leaf tea made from the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. Given this, herbal teas made from other plants, such as Rooibos, doesn’t fall in this category. They’re officially referred to as tisanes. This of course doesn’t mean they don’t help against inflammation. In fact, some tisanes are very effective!

What’s the Best Leaf Tea against Inflammation and Arthritis?

Now you understand that inflammation is a cause of arthritis, we can now discuss some teas that can be effective against that.

When it comes to leaf tea, there’s green, white, black, oolong, and pu erh tea. They’re all from the same tea plant as I said before. What makes them different is the processing method applied. White and green tea are the least processed of all, while oolong, black and pu erh are more processed teas.

Types & potential side effects

Generally research shows that white and green tea contain the most polyphenols, so it would make sense to suggest those teas to prevent arthritis. However, white and green teas can have their side effects, and some people are very sensitive to that. Because they’re less processed teas, they tend to be ‘raw’. And this rawness can sometimes hurt the stomach. When you suffer from Arthritis, go for a cup of white and green tea first, but check if your stomach can handle the regular consumption of 4-5 cups a day. The best is to drink it after meals and snacks when you’re stomach isn’t empty.

If you do suffer from side effects on the stomach, then switch to oolong, black or pu erh tea. For the latter, there are two types: Sheng (raw) and Shou (ripe) pu erh. We won’t go into the details of explaining the difference here, but go for ripe pu erh.

Some oolong teas can still be harsh on the stomach, such as a lightly oxidized Tie Guan Yin, while a darker Dahongpao oolong is fine. Black teas are usually ok as well, and with ripe pu erh it can hardly go wrong. Ripe pu erhs are post-fermented and actually very soft on the stomach. It even supports digestion.

At the end of the day, there’s not that much difference between the polyphenol levels among the types. Don’t worry to much about the type of tea that you should consume as long as it’s tasty, so you’ll be able to make it part of your daily diet.

Herbal Teas against inflammation

Besides leaf teas there are also great herbal teas against inflammation. You’ve to be careful with those as they can be very powerful. So try them in small amounts first. In China, Kuding tea and Honeysuckle tea are the most famous examples and often prescribed by Chinese Medicine doctors.

Read this article in which we’ve published a honeysuckle tea with rose buds recipe: https://helloteacup.com/2016/05/13/rose-tea-recipes/

Other Notes on Arthritis

  • Avoid drinking tea in the evening as it contains caffeine.
  • Try to listen to your body, tea often helps, but not for everyone. Consult a doctor when in doubt.
  • Try to adjust your tea choice across seasons. Often times, people tend to go for a more refreshing green tea during summers and a more soothing black tea during Winters. There’s nothing wrong with that intuition.
  • Don’t just drink tea for health, try to enjoy it. Isn’t that also a health benefit in itself?!


Why Coffee Is A Silent Career Killer And Why You Should Switch To Tea

If you believe that coffee can improve your performance at work, it’s not. In fact, it’s actually a silent career killer. Learn why you should sip tea instead.

The Benefits Of Coffee Reviewed

Many coffee drinkers drink coffee in office because it improves performance, but is this true? According to a 2010 publication that summarizes a wide body of research articles on this topic and concludes that even though caffeine increases alertness, it usually does not improve performance of learning and memory related tasks.

coffee versus tea

The study also finds that low caffeine consumption reduces anxiety while a high dose actually increases anxiety. At last, there is mix scientific evidence on age related effects. Some studies find no age related effects while other studies actually find a decline in mental performance when older people consume coffee.

Even more recent, a new research by the Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that caffeine-related performance improvement is nonexistent without caffeine withdrawal. In other words, stop drinking caffeine actually reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. So the only way to get back to normal performance is to drink coffee, and when you do consume it, you feel like it’s improving your performance significantly. In fact, caffeine is only taking your performance back to normal level  for a short period!

At last a known side effect is that caffeine makes it harder for you to fall asleep. However, what less people know is that the worst comes when you finally fall asleep: caffeine disrupts the quality of your sleep by reducing the rapid eye movement (REM) when your brain is recuperating and processing emotions. As caffeine disrupts this, you will wake up the next day with an emotional handicap. So what happens after is that you will naturally long for another cup of coffee and the vicious cycle continues…

See also the image below for some other side effects of coffee.

coffee side effects

Why You Should Switch To Tea

But don’t worry, tea is luckily offered at many workplaces around the world besides coffee. Here’s you should make the switch:

  1. Tea contains caffeine, but at a much lower dose, so you will not easily get an overdose. Here’s a tea caffeine guide if you want to know more.
  2. There are decaffeinated teas for those who are very sensitive to caffeine (even though it will still contain some caffeine). Besides, there are many herbal teas that are free of caffeine such as this calming Chrysanthemum tea and Rooibos tea.
  3. Tea does not only contain less caffeine but it is also distributed over a longer period of time, so result in mood swings. See the image below for further clarification.

coffee tea caffeine table distribution over time

Green Tea and Black Tea Caffeine

When it comes to comparing tea with coffee or comparing different tea categories, the most discussed topic is caffeine content. While it’s safe to assume that any tea should have significantly less caffeine than coffee, this is more difficult for caffeine levels between tea types.

Based on general consensus we can assume the amount of caffeine to in tea to be the highest for pu erh tea and black tea and lower for green tea and white tea. However, according to one of our visitors, there has been some recent research that provides proof that green tea contains actually more caffeine than black tea. Here’s his question:

Apparently there is some minor controversy about the difference between the caffeine levels in green and red teas (referred to as ‘black’ here in the U.S.), and that some think that green tea has more caffeine than red tea, which is contrary to common assumptions. Recent technological developments helped discover this, some claim. Do you have any thoughts on this? Are you aware?

First of all, I would like to point out that it’s really hard to determine which tea has more caffeine than others. First of all, are we talking about the real content of caffeine per gram of leaf? Or per cup of x mg of tea? Determining the caffeine content per gram of leaf should be really easy as this is a chemical analysis. However, the result might not be relevant as what matters is how much we finally consume by drinking tea.

The are simply to many factors that can affect the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea, which makes it really hard to draw any general conclusions:

  1. Steeping temperature: the higher the steeping temperature the more caffeine the leaves will release. What also matters for researchers is that whether they should steep green tea and black tea both at the same temperature or at the usual recommended temperatures (e.g. black tea at 100 degrees Celsius and green tea at 80 degrees Celsius). Scientifically steeping both teas at the same temperature would make sense, but this would not represent how real tea lovers steep their tea and therefore it would also not reflect true caffeine content.
  2. Steeping time: the longer you steep, the more caffeine will be released in a cup. The same comment regarding steeping temperature is valid here: would you steep both green tea and black tea for the same amount of time, or follow how tea drinkers behave in practice?
  3. Crushed versus loose leaves: Crushed leaves will release more caffeine than full loose leaves.
  4. Tea tips versus larger leaves: Tea tips usually contains slightly more caffeine than larger leaves. However, it still hard to say what amount ends up in your cup since tea tips are usually less oxidized, which brings us to the next topic.
  5. Oxidation level: less oxidized teas usually release less caffeine. Though it’s true that tea tips contain more caffeine, they usually in the end release less caffeine because they are usually less oxidized (e.g. silver needle tea and dragon well tea)
  6. Processing: the more dense the tea becomes after processing the slower it will release caffeine. Take for instance jasmine dragon pearls. Because they are curled into pearls, it will release it’s caffeine more slowly.
  7. Steeping step: the first steep will release more caffeine than the steeps after. In China, most people will rinse the leaves for a few seconds before steeping. The question is whether researchers should take practice this into account when setting up their research.

Given all the factors above, we could say that ‘tea type’ is just one of the factors that could be added to the list above. Still, I do believe that we can still generally assume that green tea does contain less caffeine than black tea.

L-Theanine and Caffeine: The Reason For Your Clari-Tea

Have you ever wondered why you get that perfect feeling when you’re drinking tea?

That feeling that drives us to write and draw and talk and just dream? There is alertness and calmness and the feeling that in that moment , in the words of Stephen Chbosky in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “we were infinite”.  This sensation can be blamed on the combination of L-Theanine and Caffiene in tea. This winning combo

  • Promotes a mindful state of relaxation
  • Increases our ability to multi-task, and multi-task well
  • Increases speed of perception
  • Increases performance under stress
  • Improves learning ability and concentration
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Reduces task-induced fatigue

Tea does this because L-theanine is responsible for increasing alpha brain wave activity, which promotes relaxation. Working together with the stimulant caffeine, this allows tea to induce a feeling of increased concentration over a longer period of time, compared to caffeine alone.  Recent studies have shown that tea

“. . . taken throughout the day can significantly benefit speed of perception and more consistent levels of simple task performance. L-theanine appears to antagonize the stimulatory effects of caffeine by decreasing seratonin levels that have been artifically elevated by caffeine”

Studies have also shown that there are added benefits to tea, besides alertness. In a paper by Eschenauer and Sweet, it was concluded that

“increased alpha activity in the brain induced by L-theanine has been associated with increased creativity, increased performance under stress, and improved learning and concentration as well as decreased anxiety.”

A 2001 study suggests that the combination of L-theanine and caffeine

“improves the ability to multi-task and reduces task-induced fatigue,”

Ultimately what all of these studies mean is that Tea gives energy in a way that beverages, like coffee or soda, cannot replicate. It also helps inspire creativity and helps you keep being creative and alert and calm – it really is no wonder so many artists and writers have drunk it while creating all these years. Whether you’re writing the great work of our time or just chilling out in your living room – grab a cup of the good stuff, you never know what you might create.