Earl Grey

After Easter and before the summer, the topic of weight loss is getting more actual. Read if tea and weight loss go hand in hand, is there such thing as “aromatic fat killer” and how much tea would you need to drink to actually achieve your weight loss goal. 

Driven by numerous descriptions of teas in different tea shops, containing only and exclusively medical factors, as well as articles written by sponsored nutritionists and tea sellers themselves, and by many questions posed by readers of Tea Chronicle, I decided to write an article about tea and weight loss. This article was written based on personal experience, spending ten years on research and learning about tea, fifteen years of experience in  drinking at least one to two liters of authentic pure tea per day, and interviews with other experts, manufacturers and consumers of tea.

I suggest that you keep in mind following fact when deciding to buy tea solely for the purpose of weight loss.

Advertising tea as a medicine is illegal in some countries

Tea is not a medicine. In Croatia, the law prohibits advertising of various products as medicine, but many vendors have turned a deaf ear to the law in order to attract customers. Tea can probably help in some health conditions, but not to the extent where it can replace professional medical treatment. Self-treatment with tea is the worst option you can choose for your health, especially with poor quality teas.

Tea and metabolism

Silver NeedleA few years ago I wrote an article about teas that can help boosting your metabolism. They can help fighting high cholesterol levels, body fat, etc. But, as I said before, tea is not a medicine. Aromatic fat killer does not exist, and no amount of oolong tea will help you shed 10-20-30 pounds in a month. Because it’s impossible. Every professional nutritionist will advise you to change your diet and make it healthy with the right proportions of macro-nutrients and the right calorie intake, along with physical activity. You can add green tea to your diet, and it is likely to be beneficial, but if you drink it only and exclusively for the purpose of weight loss, without the involvement of additional factors, you will be very disappointed. Same goes for yellow tea.

Tea and weight loss

One of the reasons why some people lose weight when they start drinking tea is because they replace high calorie beverages full of sugar with zero calories tea. They significantly lower sugar and calorie intake. The number of those unwanted calories can reach a very high number, sometimes even more than 500 calories per day. Thus, they can lose weight. Another reason is that tea can really have a very good impact on health due to catechins – but not in such a drastic measure. If cateching had a drastic impact, all of us would become extremely healthy very easily, we would cure dangerous cancers in a minute for a very low price and we would all be very skinny. And it would cost us not more than 20 bucks per month. Tea “MAY reduce the risk” of getting dangerous illness in a certain percentage. This is what all researches state. Not “tea WILL remove the risk”.

Tea and advertising

Always keep in mind that a number of articles in which tea is recommended for weight loss is written exclusively as a sponsored article – either by vendors or nutritionists, in order to popularize tea and increase sales. Try to find out more about the author of such article, does he/she has any significant achievements in dealing with tea as a weight loss aid with positive outcomes, is it well recorded and what other factors were included. Tea in tea producing countries is not exclusively advertised as a weight loss aid. Even if we look at Chinese tea market, some sellers do advertise is as medicine (but mostly herbal teas) in some extent, however, this has a strong background in thousands of years old Chinese medicine as well. Quality is much more important and tea is a part of culture. Other beneficial aspects are only a final touch to the product description. Putting health benefits on tea description? Yes, but only as an addition to quality and all other required information.

Tea and catechins

The main ingredient we’re looking for in tea is catechin EGCG. EGCG is found in all real teas, but – in different amounts. Green tea generally has the most EGCG, but not all green teas have the same amount. The amount depends on the type of green tea, leaves, harvest, quality of the tea and the area where it was grown,  conditions in which the tea was growing, but also depend on brewing style. Flavored green tea generally has the smallest amount of EGCG. Some green teas have more EGCG than white teas and vice versa. Also, not all EGCG contained in tea leaves will be released into the water. Matcha for example usually gives the best results in releasing EGCG.  However, do not reach out for the first matcha you see. It is very important from where your matcha is coming, undergone processing methods, and growing conditions. Amount of EGCG can vary significantly – some teas can have only 5mg, while others have 80mg.

EGCG and weight loss

The minimum daily required amount of EGCG, when it comes to tea and weight loss, according to many studies should be around 300mg. This number can move towards much higher amounts. If flavored green tea (one cup) has about 40 mg of catechins, it means that you would need to use 35-40 grams of tea leaves daily. These are huge amounts of tea to drink. Also, more EGCG is released at very high temperatures and with longer steeping times. This brewing style would result with very bitter tea. If you ever tried green tea supplements, you probably understand what I mean. In one of the previous articles I have mentioned a study on matcha green tea and weight loss. Study made the same conclusion – high amounts of tea are necessary to be of any benefit to losing weight. If you are tempted to take that same amount of EGCG in supplements, think twice. Any abuse of a good ingredient may become extremely dangerous.

Furthermore, it is important to note that there are many studies with many different results, which makes it almost impossible to find the one you trust. However, almost all of them came to the same conclusion – a group of overweight people did not achieve any significant reduction in body weight with taking ONLY EGCG. The ones that did lose weight with taking a proper dose of EGCG had a reduced calorie intake and physical activity of certain intensity few times per week.

People in Japan are slim and live longer because they drink a lot of tea

Earl GreyThis is one of the biggest misconception of all misconceptions concerning green tea. People in Japan are slim because of the proper healthy diet, eating small amounts of food several times per day,not eating so much highly processed food. There are, of course, many other factors, but they do eat healthier and have a more positive attitude to physical activity. As fast food restaurants and western cuisine (pizza, pasta, bread) began to sprout in Japan, the number of overweight population began to grow. The main secret is in moderation and choosing healthy foods. What surprised me the most in Japan was the wide range of ready-to-drink teas in supermarkets in comparison to sugary drinks. Sugar intake is much lower than ours. By the way, did you hear about Japan’s metabo law?

Tea and price

Price of the tea must always be determined by its quality. You can easily recognize quality by the smell of leaves and their freshness. Also, always be sure to know the exact harvesting time and location. Preferably, you should also know what processing did tea undergo (e.g., type of steaming, days of covering, etc.), tea varietal, plucking type. All this sets the price of the tea and saves your money. It is not enough to blindly trust the vendor who says his tea is premium – because no one is crazy enough to say differently. When you purchase the low quality tea, no matter how much you paid for it, you will not get much out of it – in any sense.

Which tea to choose

It doesn’t matter which tea you choose (if it0is real and unflavored tea). No matter if it’s black, white, yellow, oolong or green, the most important is you enjoy it, to experiment with it and to drink it regularly. Tea and weight loss go hand in hand, but only after taking into account all the facts, you can benefit from including tea into your diet as a weight loss aid. Regardless if you want to lose weight or not, tea is a very good and a very healthy alternative to all sweetened drinks, and if you drink it reasonably, it can benefit you. Pay special caution when purchasing over the Internet from a variety of non-specialized dealers, especially those selling tea for unreasonably low prices and without any proper packaging or information. Remember, the expertise, the amount of information that the seller is offering and prices are very important factors.

Flavored teas

As a final point I would like to state few facts about flavored tea. Heavily and artificially flavored tea is not the original Japanese or Chinese product, it was invented solely for the purpose of popularizing and selling tea in the West. Flavored tea will mostly be of lower quality than pure tea. China, Japan and Taiwan have several flavored teas, but they are usually very simple teas in which usually only one flower is added – jasmine, osmant, rose, etc. These days western types of flavored teas can also be found, but they are more a matter of hype and profits. Flavoring and roasting teas usually (but not always) has one purpose –  to make lower quality teas drinkable. If you have not found your favorite pure tea, look further, try new types, new tea shops. Buy teas directly from Japan, Taiwan, China, India, Vietnam. Good quality teas do not need additional flavorings or ingredients because they are able to imitate absolutely all imaginable flavors in the world. However, if you happen to find a really good heavily flavored tea, go for it – if it brings you pleasure. This is what drinking tea should be all about. Enjoyment and happiness.


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