Tea has been one of the favorite beverages of people for thousands of years, all over the globe. After water, tea is the world’s most widely consumed beverage. Tea is available in various varieties like Black Tea, White tea, Green Tea, herbal Tea, Chai, etc. Among all the teas, green and black teas are preferred mostly due to their antioxidant properties. Tea sales in the United States have increased four times since 1990 and now total is about $7 billion US per year.
Tea lovers if you are buying your favorite bottled brand from the market and thinking you are supplied with antioxidants and getting benefits out of it, you might be wrong. A recent report presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Boston revealed that many of the popular brands contain fewer antioxidants than a single cup of home-brewed green or black tea.
About the study
Shiming Li, an analytical and natural product chemist at WellGen, Inc., a biotechnology company in North Brunswick, N.J., and colleagues measured the level of polyphenols of six brands of tea purchased from supermarkets. Polyphenols is a group of natural antioxidants, which is linked to anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties. Researchers used a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), a standard laboratory technique, to measure the polyphenols content in bottled tea beverages.
Revelation of the study
Li said that the popular teas tested in the study were found to contain 81, 43, 40, 13, 4 and 3 milligrams of polyphenols per 16-ounce (473 ml) bottle. In comparison, an average cup of home-brewed green or black tea contains 50 to 150 milligrams of polyphenols. The findings were:
- Half of the tested brands contained “virtually no” antioxidants.
- Some products contain such small amounts that consumers would have to drink 20 bottles to get the polyphenols present in one cup of home brewed tea.
Reason of low polyphenolic content
Li pointed out that many manufacturers mention polyphenol content on the bottle label which may be incorrect. The reason is there are no industry or government standards or guidelines for measuring and listing the polyphenolic compounds in a product. A regular tea bag, for example, weighs about 2.2 grams and could contain as much as 175 mg. of polyphenols. But polyphenols degrade and disappear as the tea bag is steeped in hot water.
Being a consumer we trust on the brands and the information printed on the label. How can we predict the reliability of label information and its benefit to health? Government should review such cases with great attention and make guidelines, which are to be followed by all manufacturers in order to ensure the quality of the product. Also government laboratories should test the products which are not under the scrutiny of health organizations and release reports every year which may inhibit manufacturers to provide the wrong information to the consumers. The moral of the study is homemade tea is much more healthy than the products available in the market in respect to antioxidant content and more than likely cheaper too.