It All Starts With Camellia Sinensis
An ancient health brew, tea is a decoction of the Camellia sinensis leaves. If you’re wondering what decoctions or hot water infusions of herbs or any plant material such as ﬂowers, fruits, roots or twigs are, then the term is “herbal tea”. This article will focus on the true Camellia sinensis teas.
Here’s a quick look at the types of tea and their caffeine content.
The Wonders of Tea
Lay your hands on health magazine today, you’d most probably end up reading an article about the health beneﬁts of tea. People around the globe have embraced this beverage since paramount research backs up its impressive health benefits.
Polyphenols are the powerhouse in tea that contribute to taste and health. Taste of the drink through tannins and health through a class of flavonoid called catechins (EGCG, Epigallocatechin gallate-3) that counteracts reactions which cause cell damage and subsequent disease.
Tea improves blood pressure and blood vessels functioning thereby reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. Green tea is beneficial for weight loss through increased energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and reduced calorie intake (substituting tea with soft drinks). Research highlights bone building beneﬁts as well, by improving the formation of new bone as well as by decreasing the degradation of existing bone. Catechins and theanine in tea boost immune function.
For ages, tea has earned a spot for cognitive beneﬁts like mental clarity and concentration. Tea was used by early monks to aid in their meditation practice as it prevented them from falling asleep. These benefits are attributed to tea components – caffeine and theanine.
Are You Reading The Tea Leaves Right?
Although tea may offer a wide array of benefits none of us has thought whether it’s the same for children. Recent Indian-based studies highlighted that caffeine consumption has been constantly growing in India especially among children and adolescents. In fact, the researchers pointed out a probability of higher caffeine intake in urban Indian adolescents compared to the worldwide data!
Interestingly, tea/coffee contributed to more than 50% of the caffeine intake while cola beverages, chocolates, and energy drinks contributed to the remaining. The most common reasons for consumption were to keep more alert and to combat drowsiness. If you have been allowing your kids to drink tea or coffee to kick-start their day, then you might want to stop this right away.
Proper sleep is quintessential during childhood and adolescence since it is a period of rapid growth and brain development. But get this – the vicious cycle of caffeine – used to disrupt sleep – leads to fatigue – caffeine is used again to counteract the fatigue. This perpetuates poor sleep patterns and heightened caffeine consumption.
Some animal research suggests that caffeine can potentiate drug addiction. Studies show moderate to high doses of caffeine (approx. 100 – 400 mg) results in increased incidence of nervousness, jitteriness, fidgetiness, and less incidence of sluggishness in children and adolescents.
In a nutshell, effects of caffeine on children and adolescents are different from those seen in adults. Excessive caffeine intake has an adverse impact on health in terms of optimal sleep, overall growth and development, and the risk for engaging in risky behaviours.