Nutritionist Weighs In On How And When To Drink Chai

Wake up in the morning, and you can get a whiff of tea brewing either in your house or your neighbour’s. It might be Britishers who started the cultivation of tea in India, but Indians have taken it too far. In the past one and a half centuries, Indians have almost become accustomed to drinking tea, not just one variety but many. 

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Whether it is summer or winter, people who cannot do without tea can easily find an excuse or two to drink it more than twice a day. If you explore tea markets in India, you can find many herbal tea varieties, black tea, ginger tea, green tea, and the list goes on. 

Tea might be the greatest accompaniment with your meals, but have you stopped to search about its benefits and side effects? Do you know how and when to drink what kind of tea? To bring you to answer all the queries, Slurrp spoke to Pune-based functional nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan, CEO and founder at iThrive. She shared the spotlight on why many people experience headaches if they miss a scheduled cup of tea on any day.

What Are The Benefits Of Tea For The Body?

The nutritionist shared that almost every variety of tea is rich in antioxidants. Therefore, drinking tea can benefit your body in several ways. “However, it depends on when you are drinking it and what kind of tea you are consuming,” added Mugdha Pradhan.

She explained that the popular variety of tea, like black tea or the one we use at home every day, contains caffeine, which according to several studies is not good for the body. She added that drinking herbal teas like chamomile tea, rose tea, dandelion root tea, jasmine tea, and hibiscus tea among others do not contain caffeine. 

Hence, if you can switch to herbal tea, it can benefit your body in several ways. For example, the nutritionist said that chamomile tea has a soothing effect on nerves whereas hibiscus tea can benefit your hair. 

Similarly, if rose tea or any other herbal has organic components, it can help with indigestion, gas, and bloating because they contain bioactive compounds. 

What Are The Side Effects Of Drinking Tea?

She added that people must have the right knowledge about quantity and quality of tea. Mugdha Pradhan explained that turmeric has curcumin, which is known to possess many medicinal properties, that should be consumed in small quantities. However, if you overdo it, the compound can lead to toxicity in the liver.

Similarly, if you drink normal tea at home first thing in the morning to jolt yourself out of sleep, you have become dependent on it. The nutritionist explained that caffeine in the tea leads to adrenal dysfunction due to which the glands producing cortisol in the body become impaired. Similarly, she added that drinking tea late in the night can disrupt your sleep cycle.

It is also due to added caffeine that people become used to, more like addicted, to tea or coffee. “They need it first thing in the morning to wake up. Hence, many people complain of headaches if they do not get a cup of tea at their routine time,” the nutritionist said. This is why people feel a rush of energy after drinking tea and experience a sharp dip after caffeine starts to wear off in 3 to 4 hours. 

Tea also contains tannins and oxalates, which are known to prevent the absorption of iron in the body. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), around 57% of non-pregnant women and 52% of pregnant women, between the age of 15-49, are anaemic in India.

Referring to this number, Mugdha Pradhan explained that drinking tea can make it even worse for anaemic women. “Moreover, added sugar and hyper-processed milk cause more harm to the body,” she added.

What Is The Best Way To Drink Tea?

Recently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), published a study around tea and shared a few guidelines as well for drinking it. Functional nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan agreed with what the report suggests and added a few more pieces of advice. 

  1. Try to reduce the amount of tea you consume in the morning and start replacing it with herbal tea like mint tea, rose tea, etc.
  2. Drink tea after 60-90 minutes of consuming a hearty protein-rich breakfast or lunch. It will help to avoid psychological dependence on the beverage.
  3. Try to drink tea without milk because it can boost blood circulation, and reduce risks of heart diseases and stomach problems. 
  4. Avoid drinking tea after 3 pm if you do not want to disrupt your sleep schedule.
  5. Do not have processed sugar or milk in tea. Replace sugar with honey or jaggery.
  6. Instead of drinking tea with biscuits or cookies, loaded with sugar and fat, have it after breakfast or lunch. 
  7. Avoid drinking tea on an empty stomach because it can lead to acidity.