In May we celebrate Mother’s Day and honour special women in our lives. In your family, as in mine, tea may have been traditionally part of many treasured times with mothers and grandmothers. Although thousands of years old, tea is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, as scientists continue to find evidence of tea’s healthfulness. Studies conducted with both black and green tea have yielded exciting results suggesting that natural compounds in tea called flavonoids may help to maintain good health.
There is an important distinction to make however, between herbal tea and tea. Oolong, white, green and black are considered “true teas,” as their leaves come from the actual tea plant camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. Rooibos and herbal teas do not contain leaves from the tea plant but are infusions of other plants, spices or fruit. Since Herbal teas are not derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, tea experts refer to them as a “tisane.”
We already know that tea is good for the heart, and healthy blood flow is also important for the brain. Our expert, University of Toronto’s scientist Dr. Carol Greenwood connects these by saying “What is good for the heart is also good for the brain.” There is a unique aspect of tea and health research that also supports brain health and cognition.
Here are some of the studies from recent scientific findings:
- A recent human study examined the effect of the unique tea amino acid L-theanine (-glutamylethylamide) on attention related task performance. Task performance was measured by electroencephalographic (EEG), or the measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain as recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp. The results suggest L-theanine plays a role in attentional processing in synergy with caffeine. 
- A published randomized human clinical trial found that subjects given a daily supplement with green tea extract and L-theanine extracted from tea experienced improvements in mild cognitive impairments (MCI). In a test of attention and self-reported measure of alertness, subjects consumed two cups of tea (100 mg caffeine and 46 mg L-theanine) versus a placebo beverage. Results indicated that accuracy on the Attention Switching task was improved after tea as compared to the placebo, as well as performance on two of the four subtasks from the Intersensory Attention task. 
- Caffeine and L-theanine in tea may offer cognitive benefits and improve mental clarity and work performance. A cross-sectional study showed that participants who consumed more tea felt less tired and reported higher levels of subjective work performance.
In celebration of mothers and all the special women in your life, host a tea party, maybe even outside! There are so many varieties and flavours to choose from. Did you know there is a difference between brewing black and green teas? For black tea use boiling water and steep 3-5 min, for green tea use hot water and steep only 2-3 min. Different types of teas should be brewed at different temperatures for different lengths of time. Here are some tips to help to get you started:
||80°C / 185°F
||(Steep 2-5 min)
||80°C / 185°F
||(Steep 1-3 min)
||80°C / 185°F
||(Steep 2-3 min)
||100°C / 212°F
||(Steep 4 min)
||100°C / 212°F
||(Steep 3-6 min)
How to Brew the Best Cup of Tea
- Start with fresh-drawn cold water and bring to a rolling boil and let sit to temperature suggested above
- Warm the teapot
- Use one teaspoonful of loose tea or one teabag per cup (6 oz. about 175 mL or ¾ cup) of water
- When the water is at the correct temperature, take the kettle to the warmed teapot and pour over the tea
- Cover and let steep for times suggested above
- Strain tea or remove the teabags. Enjoy!
For more information visit the Tea Types & Steeping Instructions page.
 Kelly SP, Gomez-Ramirez M, Montesi JL, Foxe JJ. L-Theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance. J Nutr 2008;138:1572S–7S.
 De Bruin EA, Rowson MJ, Van Buren L, Rycroft, JA, Owen GN. Black tea improves attention and self-reported alertness. 2011. Appetite, 56: 235-240.
 Bryan J, Tuckey, M, Einöther S.J.L. et al. The relationship between tea and other beverage consumption, work performance and mood. Appetite, 2012. 58 (1), 339–346.