Bottled tea: health or hype?

August 23, 2010 — Bottled tea may be all the rage among the health-conscious crowd, but it may not have as many health benefits as you might think.

Bottled tea is known as healthy because it contains polyphenols, antioxidants that may help ward off a range of diseases, including cancer.

But scientists say they’ve found that many popular bottled tea beverages contain less polyphenols than a cup of home-brewed green or black

Some teas are so low that levels are so low that A person would have to drink 20 bottles to get the same polyphenol benefits in a cup of tea.

“Consumers are well aware of the notion that drinking tea or consuming other tea products has health benefits,” says Dr. WellGen Inc., a life sciences company. — actual content. Our analysis of tea beverages found that tea beverages are extremely low in polyphenols.”

WellGen’s analytical and natural products chemist Li, in a press release That said, bottled commercial tea also contains other substances, including large amounts of sugar and accompanying calories, that people who are trying to lose weight may try to avoid.

WellGen, which develops medical foods for patients with disease, includes a proprietary black tea product that he said will be marketed for its anti-inflammatory properties, in part due to its high polyphenol content.

Polyphenol levels in bottled tea

In the study, Li and colleagues measured polyphenol levels in six brands of tea purchased in supermarkets.

The six teas he analyzed were found to contain 3-81 mg of polyphenols per 16-ounce bottle. On average, a cup of self-brewing green or black tea contains 50-150 mg of polyphenols.

“Someone has to drink bottle after bottle of these teas in some cases to gain health benefits,” Li said. “I was surprised by the low polyphenol levels. I didn’t expect it to be at such low levels.”

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Since 1990, tea sales in the United States have quadrupled and constitute a $7 billion industry.

Polyphenols are good for health

Polyphenols and other antioxidants in tea have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other diseases.

Lee said some commercial teas list polyphenol content on the label, but he said those claims may not be true because there are no industry or government standards to measure and list healthy compounds

He said that a common tea bag may contain as much as 175 mg of polyphenols.

But when the tea bag is hot soaked, these compounds degrade and disappear into the water. “Polyphenols have bitterness and astringency, but in order to target as many consumers as possible, manufacturers want to keep bitterness and astringency to a minimum,” Li said. “The easiest way to do this is to add less tea, which is low in polyphenols but has a smoother, sweeter taste,” he said.

The research is being presented in Boston at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The study was presented at a medical meeting. The findings should be considered preliminary because they have not yet gone through a “peer review” process, in which outside experts review data before publishing it in a medical journal.