Do you know a beverage that is considered an elixir of life, offering health and vitality? If you answered tea, then you are absolutely right. Mythical drink and a legendary health potion, tea is a nature’s blessing that has become one of the most consumed beverages of today. The reason for this popularity lies within splendid nutritional content of tea. Although there are many varieties of tea available to us, this article focuses on the health benefits of one particular type, i.e., Assam tea.
What is Assam tea?
It is black tea often sold as “breakfast tea”. Instead of traditional Camellia sinensis plant var. sinensis, this specific tea is made from the leaves of a different species, i.e., Camellia sinensis var. assamica.
Black tea, also known as fermented tea, is more heavily oxidized than the other types of tea. Due to this longer chemical process of oxidation, its tea leaves are darker and have a stronger flavor.
You may wonder where this tea comes from?
The hint lies within its name. This tea variety is cultivated in a luscious green state of India known as “Assam”, situated at the south of the eastern Himalayas. Here the tea leaves are generally harvested by hand and placed in bamboo baskets. Later, tea experts carefully monitor and inspects the entire tea making process to manufacture high-quality tea.
Related Article: Tea History in India. When did Tea Start in India?
Why is Assam tea popular?
This tea is popular because of its deep aroma, rich color, and distinctive taste. The tropical climate of Assam contributes to unique malty taste that differentiates it from other teas.
Moreover, this tea is a rich source of polyphenols, i.e., plant-based antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), theaflavins (TFs), thearubigins (TRs), and several other flavonoids. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine and many other essential minerals (1)(2)(3).
Generally, tea is a non-sweetened natural energy stimulant that is a more healthy option than other caffeine-based energy drinks or coffee. Compared with other teas, Assam tea has the highest caffeine content, containing on average about 80 mg of caffeine per 235 ml (4). Hence, one should drink tea in moderation to avail its the positive effects and to minimize the risk of excess caffeine consumption (5).
Related Article: How to Sweeten Your Tea Without Adding Sugar?
How Assam tea helps us?
Nutritional contents mentioned above make tea, a miraculous drink that has several health benefits. For the time being, let’s focus on five benefits of Assam tea that are also scientifically proven through research.
1) Promotes overall health
There is unanimous agreement among researchers that taking a diet rich in antioxidants can help us live longer and healthier lives (6). Thus, drinking tea that is a natural source of antioxidants is your route to happiness.
Regular intake of tea polyphenols may protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation. Tea consumption may also boost the immune system and play an important role in disease prevention. Hence, tea can protect your cell tissues from damage and premature aging (2)(7).
Polyphenols also help to detox and improve the antioxidant status of the body. Therefore, drinking tea can reduce the risk of diseases related to oxidative stress such as mental imbalance, disturbances, anxiety disorder, depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc (2)(8).
In simple words, incorporating tea in one’s diet is an efficient way to prevent several chronic disorders and to maintain overall health.
2) Regulates high blood pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure (BP) can also result in other cardiovascular health complications such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke (9). Hence, many scientists have studied the link between tea and high BP.
One study on the rats shows that regular tea consumption has the ability to regulate high BP (10)(11). Consequently, long-term intake of black tea have a significant difference in BP that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 7-10% (12)(13).
For this reason, Assam black tea consumption can help mitigate high BP and eventually reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality.
3) Enhances mental alertness
Tea is food for the brain as it contains a special amino acid, i.e., L-theanine that has anti-anxiolytic properties. L-theanine can boost alpha waves in our brain when taken along with caffeine and EGCG.
Enhanced alpha waves can improve cognitive ability, increase mental clarity, induce alertness, and enhance mood. Moreover, it can encourage relaxation without inducing drowsiness (14)(15).
Since Assam tea is a stronger tea, one can stay alert for relatively an extended period of time even without sleep. However, limit your tea intake to fewer than 5 cups of tea per day to prevent caffeine overdose.
But the question is, can tea also enhance our creative abilities?
To test this hypothesis, Peking University conducted an experiment with 50 participants. Before performing a creativity task, these people were given either water or a cup of tea. The results show that participants who drank tea were relatively more creative than others (17). Next time if you experience a creativity block, try brewing a nice cup of tea for inspiration.
4) Helpful for diabetes
Black tea is a non-sweetened beverage containing natural antioxidants that can prevent type II diabetes by reducing the level of blood glucose in normal and pre-diabetic adults (18).
Further research shows that drinking 6 cups of black tea per day for 8 weeks can result in a 15-20% reduction in blood sugar levels in adults with type II diabetes (19).
Furthermore, EGCG, tannins, and theaflavins mainly present in more oxidized tea may enhance the level of insulin secretion. Green teas lack this anti-diabetic property. Therefore, regular consumption of black tea can improve insulin level in adults (20).
To use tea for diabetes, avoid adding dairy milk, soy milk, or nondairy creamers as they reduce the insulin-secretion activity of tea. For example, adding 5g of 2% milk per cup can reduce this insulin- secretion activity by 33% while adding 50 g of milk per cup can reduce this activity by almost 90% (21).
Hence, consumption of tea without adding milk or milk substitute can be extremely beneficial for type II diabetes.
5) Helps in weight loss
Regular tea consumption can improve food efficiency, i.e., how much weight you gain as compared to your food intake.
Essentially, the flavonoids present in tea have shown to exhibit extraordinary anti-obesity properties that can result in weight loss without any apparent side effects. According to one research, tea polyphenols can prevent an increase in body weight even in mammals fed with a high-fat diet (22).
Hence, tea can prevent obesity and related diseases by improving the metabolism of glucose, lipid, and uric acid.
Interestingly, polyphenols present in black tea are more effective in reducing weight as compared with polyphenols in green tea (23).
Therefore, when deciding to reduce body weight, drinking an adequate amount of black tea along with a proper diet and exercise may prove more fruitful.
Assam tea is one of the most nutritious beverages that may help maintain a healthy lifestyle. As mentioned above, this aromatic drink is proven to enhance mental alertness and regulate high BP. It can also act as an excellent anti-diabetic agent. Furthermore, this splendid drink is a natural aid for a healthy weight loss. To sum it up, this is an awesome tea that is great for your heart, mind, and body.
Bonus: How to Brew Assam Black Tea?