Tea is the most popular beverage in the world after tap water with over 6 billion kilograms of tea consumed annually! Because of its global popularity, this delicious drink comes with a history of myths, fables and unanswered questions. With a growing variety of teas on offer, many shoppers are also confused by the array of options, and don’t know which tea is best suited to their needs. Rather than reading the tea leaves for answers, specialist dietitian and Laager Rooibos partner, Mbali Mapholi, sat down to answer South Africans’ tea-related questions.
“Tea is more than just a delicious beverage, it’s a culturally significant addition to many daily customs that bring people closer together,” said Mapholi. “Because of its cultural richness and the fact that there are so many wonderful teas available today, many rumours have emerged around tea and its health effects. I want to ensure everyone has the right information when choosing which tea is best for them, which is why I’ve answered these frequently asked questions.”
Q1: I struggle with insomnia, will drinking tea help?
If you struggle to sleep, a Herbal tea may be the answer for you! Herbal teas like Rooibos, Honeybush and Chamomile are caffeine free. Chamomile in particular is often associated with promoting sleep. Researchers believe that its effect on sleep is due to the fact that it contains Apigenin - a flavonoid that binds to certain receptors in the brain, which can promote sleepiness.
Mbali’s tea tip: Try Laager Mint-flavoured Rooibos & Chamomile before bed, and try to reduce your caffeine intake during the day as well by sticking to herbal teas.
Q2: Can I give tea to my kids?
Rooibos tea is the perfect choice for kids because it is naturally caffeine-free and naturally sweet. Young kids should ideally not consume caffeine on a regular basis. All teas, except herbal teas like Rooibos and Honeybush, contain caffeine. Rooibos also has other benefits for growing bodies – it is hydrating, low in tannins, high in antioxidants, and can help soothe tummy ache and allergies.
Mbali’s tea tip: Laager Tea4Kidz has a range of enticing flavours and animal characters that are perfect for kids. They also have two flavours - Apple & Berry and Peach & Apricot - with added Vitamin C.
Q3: I have an iron deficiency – can I still drink tea?
Tannins are naturally found in tea and while they may have potential health benefits, a well-researched downside is that tannins may inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron which is the iron from plant food sources. To avoid this, you can opt for herbal teas like Rooibos, which are low in tannins, or between meals (avoid drinking tea during meals where you are eating iron-rich foods).
Mbali’s tea tip: Try Laager Rooibos – it’s available in a range of flavours including pure Rooibos, Cranberry & Wild
Cherry flavoured Rooibos, and Citrus & Ginger flavoured Green Rooibos.
Q4: I’m trying to lose weight - can Green tea help me?
Although Green tea is packed with antioxidants which are important for good health, Green tea on its own is not a magic cure for weight loss. Weight loss is achieved through lifestyle changes such as adopting a nourishing and varied diet and keeping active. This being said, Green tea is a healthy drink which can certainly form part of your weight loss programme. In addition, Green tea may improve your workouts as it has the ability to increase your blood flow, which then results in improved oxygenation to your bodily organs.
Mbali’s tea tip: Try Tetley Green teas (available in Pure Green tea and flavours like lemon and mint), as part of a balanced eating plan, particularly for pre-workout as an iced tea or smoothie.
Q5: I have diabetes, which tea is best for me?
A lot of research has been done into the benefits of Rooibos for those struggling with diabetes. Rooibos may help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under control as part of a healthy lifestyle and therefore reduce the risk of complications. Rooibos is also naturally sweet meaning it can be enjoyed without sugar or other sweeteners.
Mbali’s tea tip: Try Rooibos – it’s available in a range of flavours and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Q6: Can I drink tea when I’m pregnant?
Herbal teas like Rooibos and Honeybush are the perfect choice during pregnancy. They’re naturally caffeine-free and can also help soothe an irritated stomach. They can also be enjoyed hot or cold to keep you hydrated and feeling at your best.
Mbali’s tea tip: Make up a batch of Rooibos iced tea or freeze Rooibos into ice cubes to suck on, as a relief for pregnancy-related nausea.
Q7: I’m lactose intolerant, which teas taste best without milk?
Any tea can be enjoyed without milk (or with a milk substitute) but Green tea as well as Herbal teas like Rooibos and Honeybush, are the teas most frequently consumed without milk. These teas are generally enjoyed plain or with added honey and/or lemon.
Mbali’s tea tip: Try a flavoured Rooibos or Green tea, or plain Rooibos or Green tea with a dash of honey and lemon.
Q8: I work long hours, which tea can help keep me awake and alert?
Although caffeine often carries a negative stereotype, it can also be beneficial when consumed in moderation. Caffeine can improve memory, decrease fatigue, and improve mental alertness. Teas containing caffeine are from the camellia sinensis plant which includes black tea, green tea, oolong tea and white tea. The differences in these tea varieties comes down to the way they are processed, and the caffeine quantity differs depending on the type of tea and the time taken to steep the tea.
Mbali’s tea tip: For a boost of energy, have a cup of black tea or green tea. Tetley Premium Blend has a 10% bigger tea bag, so that would be my recommendation if you’re looking for a boost.
Q9: Which is the best tea to drink and when?
If you don’t have any specific health conditions, it’s best to choose your tea according to your mood, the time of the day, and your particular need at that time. Tea is a versatile beverage boasting a range of health benefits offered by the group of natural plant compounds found in tea. Here are some examples of which tea to drink when.
- Feeling bloated or constipated? – Drink Green tea
- Suffering from high cholesterol or high blood pressure? – Drink Rooibos tea daily
- Feeling that afternoon slump? – Drink some Black or Green tea
- In the mood for a delicious, caffeine-free tea for any time of day? – Drink Rooibos tea
- Time for tea and scones? – Drink Earl Grey tea
- Looking for a nightcap or bedtime tea? – Drink Chamomile tea or a Rooibos & Chamomile blend
- Down with colds and flu? – Drink Rooibos tea
“There are so many reasons to drink tea” commented Mapholi in closing “Firstly, we drink tea for pure enjoyment! Secondly, tea is an affordable and a versatile drink that can be consumed either hot or cold. And finally, tea is packed with antioxidants which have numerous health benefits such as boosting your immune system, supporting heart health, and fighting off inflammation.”
Visit www.joekels.co.za and @LaagerRooibosTea or @urbandietitian (@mbalimapholiinc. on Facebook) on social media for more health tips and advice from Mbali Mapholi, as well as healthy recipes and ideas for the whole family.
Joekels pack, blend and distribute some of South Africa’s most popular household tea brands including Tetley, Laager, Tea Time, Tea4Kidz, and Society Coffee. Started in 1994 by businessman, Joe Swart and Master Tea Blender, Jonathan Kelsey, Joekels is an award-winning business with both Halaal and Kosher accreditation, as well as the highest global food safety and quality certification, FSSC 22000. The Laager Rooibos brand is accredited by the Heart & Stroke foundation of South Africa. Visit www.joekels.co.za for more info.