Keeping up on news in the world of tea can be rather challenging. Sorting out the real news items from the not-so-real is part of that challenge and so is refraining from passing along through this blog or social media items that are in that latter category. A few things have been of special concern lately, so we thought a comment or two on them was appropriate.
Tea Sites Advocating Health Benefits
Some might classify this info as “fake news” but maybe “fake” is not the right word. You could probably more appropriately use words like illegitimate or unsubstantiated. The sites are real in that they exist, but the fact is that much if not all of the information is presented without anything substantiated data behind it to verify it. When it comes to your health, that’s an extremely important point to keep in mind.
One site is run by a single person and is said to generate over $180K per year in revenue, probably through ads. The information comes from a variety of sources, often having been “scraped” (copied in their entirety without the permission of the owners), and rarely has any links to clinical studies to back up the claims. Another site has articles written by various contributors, none of which have any kind of medical education, and one who is a 22-year-old self-proclaimed tech nerd.
Old Adages About Health Claims Being Refuted Daily
It seems that every day brings a news story where some long-standing adage about health is shown as wrong. Many of these adages were just made up, such as the one about fatty foods making you fat and about coconut oil being bad for your heart. All the more reason for us to be very cautious when reading and sharing such info about tea.
Future Harm to the Tea Industry
The biggest concern to us as tea vendors is sorta like what happened to those travelling sellers of patent nostrums (as some called them, but they are better known as “snake oil” or “mystery cures in a bottle”). When the truth eventually came out, some salesmen were stripped, painted with hot tar, and liberally coated with chicken feathers. Then they were chased out of town (“rode out of town on a rail” – not too nice sounding). The clinical evidence for many of the health claims being made about tea is so slim or even downright fraudulent that we hesitate to ever mention them. Even the old claim about the benefits of anti-oxidants has come into question, especially for anyone with cancer (diagnosed or not). Similarly, the backlash against tea vendors who have overemphasized supposed weight loss benefits from drinking oolongs is a good example of what might be ahead.
The Real Reason for Drinking Tea
I love tea, especially pu-erh, and don’t miss the sugary drinks that used to be part of my daily intake. The boost from tea is gentler than coffee and the L-theanine in tea also soothes me (one of the things that is definitely proven). The flavors of teas are so enjoyable as is without anything added that it took me a while to even consider carrying such flavored or enhanced teas in my product lineup. However, we made sure those teas still focused on the tea flavor, with the additions being complementary to the flavors in the tea, not covering them up.
Knowing how to prepare teas to get the best flavors from them is also important, and we see lots of bad advice online along with a lot of good advice. We like to tell our readers the good ways and let you decide if you want to do a Western or Asian preparation style. Tea is about enjoying the product and the experience. Any possible health benefit is a bonus.
Enjoy your tea!