“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Imagine sipping a cup of tea on a cold winter day. Feel how it warms up your cold hands, how it breathes relaxation into your tense body. These are the feel-good reasons to enjoy a cup of tea, but there are lots of science-backed reasons to drink tea too. It can fight against free radicals that contribute to cancer and heart disease, and it can help improve vision. But the biggest secret hidden in your cup of tea is that it will make you more productive.
The positive effects of tea are mainly due to two ingredients, theanine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG is the most powerful antioxidant found in tea, and it lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer because it protects against cell damage caused by oxidation. Theanine is an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea. It’s what gives you the feeling of relaxation, because it stimulates the production of alpha brain waves. As if this wasn't enough, studies have shown that tea has many more benefits. Here's how tea can help you work smarter.
The theanine in green tea is not only calming, but helps with focus and concentration. Theanine is an amino acid that increases alpha brain wave activity, which in turn promotes relaxation. In combination with caffeine, theanine induces a feeling of concentration that lasts longer than the one produced by caffeine alone. That is because theanine decreases the seratonin levels that are artificially increased by caffeine, resulting in better speed perception, concentration and decreased anxiety.
Keeps you hydrated
Hydration is essential to health, and health is essential to being productive. Every cell in your body needs to be hydrated to function properly. Even though it’s a caffeinated drink, tea still contributes to our daily fluid needs. In fact, it has the same hydrating effects of water, with the added benefits of antioxidants, according to a study sponsored by the Tea Council.
In high doses, caffeine does dehydrate, but it is very unlikely to brew a cup of tea so strong that it dehydrates you - that cup of tea just wouldn’t be palatable. However, if the caffeine still has you concerned, you can steer clear of any possible risk by keeping your tea intake under 8 cups per day.
Regulates your body temperature
Your body temperature fluctuates during the day as you go through your natural circadian cycle. It drops significantly at night, but you also experience a slight drop in temperature in the early to mid-afternoon, which seems to explain why we see a natural dip in our energy level between 1 and 3 pm. To increase alertness and reduce sleepiness, a cup of tea may just be what you need, as it will slightly increase your body temperature.
Has just enough caffeine
Before the end of my first year in university, I had realized that coffee gave me the jitters. But I still needed a caffeine kick to get me through the day. That’s when I realized that tea would be my salvation, especially in the afternoon when our bodies naturally experience a drop in energy levels.
Some say that caffeine from tea is better than caffeine from coffee because it is released more slowly in the body, but in fact tea just has less caffeine than coffee. Coffee has two to three times more caffeine than tea. For many people, the 135 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz. cup of coffee can result in headaches, indigestion or the jitters, and it can interfere with sleep. That’s when you turn to tea, which only contains 30-40 mg of caffeine in the same 8 oz. cup.
Reduces stress levels
Sip on this: drinking black tea four times a day for 6 weeks can result in lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a stressful event. What’s more, people who drink tea are able to de-stress more quickly, according to a University College London study.
Makes you look younger
White tea has a high count of the antioxidant polyphenol, which seems to be where the fountain of youth is hidden. One study showed that the antioxidants in white tea strengthen collagen and elastin - two factors in the development of lines and wrinkles. And according to a 2011 study, tea can keep your joints younger too. Isn’t looking and feeling young a productivity boost in itself?
Gives you the time to reflect
If all of the above reasons seem don’t seem important enough to you, then let this point be your only takeaway. I can’t overemphasize the importance of taking time aside to reflect on your day, your week, your month, your year, your life.
Pausing is not a waste of time. It’s like sharpening your tools before you start cutting down trees. It allows you to take in your successes, to learn from your mistakes and to consider your future direction. It’s easy to overwork ourselves when we still look at the word “workaholic” as a compliment. But you can’t be always charging forward, almost blindly, without taking the time to reflect. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “drink your tea slowly and reverently.”
Whether you like loose tea or tea bags; green, white or black tea; whether you drink it hot or drink it cold, tea is simply great. Not only does it have proven health benefits - it can also make you more productive in a smart way. I think that’s something we can all get behind.
How do you take your tea? We’d love to hear from you. Give us a shout in the comment section below.