Drinking Black Tea May Soothe Stress
Old-Fashioned Black Tea May Help People Recover From Everyday Stress
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 5, 2006 -- Forget the fancy tea fads; new research suggests drinking
plain old-fashioned black tea may fight stress and promote relaxation.
Researchers in tea-loving London found people who drank black tea were able
to de-stress more quickly than those who drank a fake tea substitute. In
addition, tea drinkers had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after
exposure to stress.
"Our study suggests that drinking black tea may speed up our recovery
from the daily stresses in life. Although it does not appear to reduce the
actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect
in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal," says researcher Andrew
Steptoe, of the University College London, in a news release. "This has
important health implications, because slow recovery following acute stress has
been associated with a greater risk of chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease."
Black Tea Fights Stress
In the study, 75 young healthy male tea drinkers (average age 33) gave up
their normal tea, coffee, and caffeinated beverages and were divided into two
groups. For six weeks, one group drank a fruit-flavored caffeinated black tea
mixture containing the active ingredients of a cup of tea, and the other drank
an identical-tasting mixture containing the same amount of caffeine but without
any other active tea ingredients.
Both groups were then subjected to challenging tasks designed to mimic
everyday stresses, like the threat of unemployment or an accusation, while
their stress hormone, blood pressure, heart rate, and self-reported levels of
stress were monitored.
The tasks provoked sharp increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and
subjective stress ratings in both groups. But 50 minutes after the stressful
situation, levels of the stress hormone cortisol had dropped lower among black
tea drinkers compared with the fake tea group. There was also an increase in
subjective relaxation during the time after the stressful situation in the tea
mixture drinkers compared with the fake tea group.
In addition, researchers also found that blood platelet activation was lower
among black tea drinkers. Men who drank black tea also reported feeling more
relaxed after the task than the other group. Platelet activation is involved in
the formation of a blood clot, which increases risk of heart
New Evidence for Old Remedy
"Drinking tea has traditionally been associated with stress relief, and
many people believe that drinking tea helps them relax after facing the
stresses of everyday life," says Steptoe. "However, scientific evidence
for the relaxing properties of tea is quite limited."
In this study, the participants did not know who was drinking real or fake
tea. Researchers say that means any differences were due to the active
ingredients in the tea and not to the relaxing ritual of drinking it or its
Steptoe says they don't know exactly which ingredients in black tea were
responsible for these effects on stress recovery and relaxation. But tea is
rich in many candidates, such as catechins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and amino
acids, which are under investigation for a variety of healthy benefits.
Their results appear in the journal Psychopharmacology.