Safe To Eat Tea Leaves from Tea Bag?

by TRM
(Brentwood, CA, USA)

I don't care for tea (of any kind) but want the benefits of green tea. I have been dumping my organic tea bags into smoothies, salads and cereal. There isn't much flavor to speak of. I'm just wondering if it's effective and/or safe.


Answer:

TRM, if the tea doesn't taste like anything, then chances are there are fewer health benefits.

In tea bag, the leaves have been chopped into small pieces, and with possible long shelf life, it means the antioxidants can easily oxidise away.

Green tea antioxidants such as egcg are extremely active and do not store easily. Good quality loose tea is freeze stored in air-sealed bag and keep fresh for only up to 12 months.

And it is these compounds that give green tea its taste.

As for eating tea leaves, doing it occasionally is fine, but I do not recommend.

Many people say by eating the leaves whole you are getting all the health benefits. This is not true.

This is because important tea compounds such as the catechins (antioxidants), caffeine and theanine (a relaxant that gives tea its characteristic taste) are all water soluble. So are many of the lesser compounds.

What is not water soluble are some of the pesticides and other unknown compounds. Because they are not water soluble, they have greater chance of accumulation in the body.

So it turns out that in green tea the safest way to consume it is the old trial and tested way - by steeping the leaves in hot water.

This is my personal preference, other people will probably have a different take. Please feel free to click on the link below to read the other readers' comments.

Julian

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Eating green tea - Is It Healthy?

by Tony Stark
(Brooklyn)

Can you eat the green tea leaves in the tea bag and get the same benefits of drinking the tea?

Answer:

Tony

The healthiest way to enjoy tea is to brew and drink the liquor. When you drink tea infusion, you are protecting yourself from harmful insoluble solids that may be present in the leaves (such as synthetic pesticide DDT).

Matcha green tea sellers claim that when you consume tea powder, you are maximising its health benefits. I do not agree, and here is why.

Here is their argument: Green tea is so healthy, you should consume it whole. Since only a small proportion of tea leaves ever dissolve in water, the best way to ingest green tea is either to eat it, or to take matcha powder.

This argument is faulty for the following reasons:

- The most important nutritional components in tea leaves are catechins, caffeine and theanine. These nutrients are flavorful as well as soluble, which explains why rich tasting teas often contain a high concentration of these compounds.

- In the Far East, green tea leaves are infused at least 3 times, until the resulting tea tastes bland. So even though you are not eating the entire leaves, you are not missing out much.

- The insoluble part of tea leaves consists mostly of proteins, fibers and carbohydrates. They have limited nutritional value. (Some Chinese tea experts even say they can be harmful.)

- Tea infusion is healthier than eating a whole leaf, because tea plants accumulate contaminants from soil and water. These contaminants are usually much less soluble in water.

Thus drinking tea protects you from environmental impurities. When you are taking a lot of tea daily, this is important.

This is my personal preference, other people will probably have a different take. Please feel free to click on the link below to read the other readers' comments.

Julian

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Is Drinking Tea Residue Bad for You?

by Carolyn Walker
(Dallas, Texas USA)

When I brew green tea to make iced tea (by the pitcher), there always seems to be tea residue at the bottom of the pitcher. Is it ok to drink that residue?

Answer:

Carolyn, unless you are really convinced about the quality of the tea, I would give it a miss.

The reasons for this because most of the nutrition of green tea - antioxidants and theanine - are water soluble.

Whereas the possibly harmful stuff - e.g. pesticide residue (if any) - are fat soluble.

Just my two cents. A lot of people disagree with me as they think it is better to be wholefood.

Hope this helps.

Julian

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