Tea Supplements Vs Beverage
Pros and Cons
6 Pitfalls To Avoid

What are the advantages and disadvantages of tea supplements versus beverage? How to take precautions against common pitfalls.



1. Misleading Potency

Potency is the most commonly cited reason for taking supplements. You may have read advertisements like this:

"Scientific study has found that one needs to drink as many as 10 to 20 cups of tea a day to benefit from it."

"While it is impractical to drink that many cups of tea a day, green tea capsules offer an attractive alternative. They contain concentrated extract found in many cups of tea."

Hmm... sounds convincing, doesn't it? There are a couple of problems with this line of reasoning:

  • There is no evidence that people need to drink that much tea to benefit.

  • Many population studies were conducted in Asia, where people typically drink 3 cups of green tea a day.

  • People suffering from certain disease may need to drink many cups of tea. However, this does not apply to a healthy adult wanting to incorporate a tea diet for lifestyle or weight loss reasons.

Recommendation:

If you can't make yourself drink 3 cups of quality green tea a day, go for a supplement. But don't think you have to take supplements because you need to ingest 20 cups of green tea a day!

2. Nutrition Destruction

Tea supplements are often less potent than the manufacturers claim.

Companies often face a hard choice between cost and quality. Standard extract processes use chemical solvents that usually end up destroying a high proportion of tea's antioxidants.

A 2006 study conducted by the University of California tested 19 commonly available green tea dietary supplement products for their catechin content. This is their conclusion:

However, label claims on GTDS may not correlate with actual phytochemical content or antioxidant capacity nor provide information about the presence and levels of caffeine.

In the current study, 19 commonly available [green tea dietary supplements] were evaluated for catechin and caffeine content and for antioxidative activity.

Product labels varied in the information provided and were inconsistent with actual phytochemical contents.

In a separate study, the same team of researchers found that catechin content ranged from 9% to 48% of label claims and all of the products tested were below 100% of label claims.

Recommendation:

Buy from a reputable manufacturer. Look for a definite measure of catechins or EGCG content. Not some vague Green Tea Leaf Extract.

3. Side Effects

Extract manufacturers have greater incentive to use low quality crops. As consumers, we are more "blind" to low quality pills than tea. When you drink a low quality tea, you know it. You can feel it in your mouth, nose, and how you feel afterwards.

When you consume a low quality tea extract supplement, it is impossible to tell.

Because of this, tea estates often diversify their income by using their best crops to make loose tea and those "undrinkable" crops to make tea extract. Remember, they are not regulated by the FDA. Anyone can team up with a cheap Chinese or Indonesian company to start selling lousy products to you.

Recommendation:

Buy from a reputable manufacturer. Look for "herbicide free" and "pesticide free" guarantees when buying extract supplements.

4. Overdose

A real danger. Consumers are more likely to overdose on supplements than a beverage. When combined with low quality products that may have been contaminated, the results can be harmful.

Tea supplements have been found to kill dogs at high doses. They have also been associated with liver and kidney damage. For further information, read Green Tea Supplement Side Effects.

Recommendation:

Never go beyond the recommended dosage.

5. Lack of Synergy

Tea chemical composition is extremely complex. Tea contains up to 200 bioactive compounds. Studies have increasingly found that these chemicals act in a synergistic manner (i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of the parts).

Brewing tea is likely to be more beneficial than taking tablets that contain only one or two tea constituents.

Few, if any, tea extract products contain theanine, an important feel-good relaxant that melts away your worry and leaves you in near perfect bliss.

Recommendation:

Choose a high quality herbal blend to a high purity product (such as 100% EGCG). The exception is if you have a medical condition and need to avoid caffeine.

If you are trying to lose weight, don't forget caffeine! It may sound like a dirty word to some people, but studies have found that EGCG and caffeine synergizes to increase weight loss.

Learn why caffeine is good for you and you need not suffer from its side effects at

Tea Caffeine - Can It Be Good For You?

6. Long Term Effect

Scientists and doctors prefer us to drink tea in beverage form because its health benefits have been observed in many population studies spanning many years. To the contrary, the long term effect of tea supplement consumption has never been understood.

Recommendation:

If you are planning on a supplement diet program, keep your program short - say within 3 months. If it works, great! If not, end it.

Conclusions

Taking a tea supplement is not a bad idea if you don't like your tea. Quality tea supplements offer many advantages, and is a low cost, high potency and caffeine free alternative.

Are you ready to find out where to find them?

References

Navindra P. Seeram,Susanne M. Henning, Yantao Niu, Rupo Lee, H. Samuel Scheuller, and David Heber (2006). Catechin and Caffeine Content of Green Tea Dietary Supplements and Correlation with Antioxidant Capacity. J. Agric. Food Chem., 54 (5), 1599 -1603, 2006.

Manning J, Roberts JC (2003). Analysis of catechin content of commercial green tea products. J Herb Pharmacother 2003; 3:19-32.

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