Functional Tea – “Superfood Next”

Is camellia sinensis tea generation Z superfood?

Before we get into this discussion, let’s understand ‘functional’ tea. A functional tea is one whose beneficial effects help in fighting certain lifestyle related diseases like cancer, oral health, heart ailments, obesity and many others. Loose tea leaves produce certain antioxidants which are superior than those found in fruits and vegetables. They modulate many diversified biological functions by either inhibiting or inducing enzymatic functions. Till date the whole leaf green tea had been popular in this category.  But collectively recent scientific research convincingly have given out supportive data which say all other types of tea – that is white, oolong and definitely black tea are equally effective in preventing diseases.

Like wine come from grapes, all tea come from a plant called “Camellia Sinensis” (or camellia Assamica) and go through multiple processes to obtain different colour, taste and strength. 

If we go by the above definition of functional tea, all teas, thus produced from the plant camellia sinensis, offer wide range of proven health benefits; with such endless health benefits, these are truly the Functional Teas that we should seriously take notice of. Let’s also keep in mind that historically all teas started of as medicinal herbs before becoming the drink that they are today. 

For every health enthusiasts, functional tea, therefore, is rightly “a cup of life”.

Let’s look into details some of the critical health benefits that we get from these functional tea:

  1. Gut is considered as the second brain of the body. The consumption of black tea brings in positive shifts in its microbial diversity and keeps good bacteria intact which in return makes the body absorb nutrients and remain mentally balanced.
  2. In a world of noise and chaos maintaining focus is a challenge. A study done by Einother (2012) shows that black tea can positively affect mood, improve creative problem solving and cognitive functioning particularly attention as compared to water. 
  3. As per WHO, worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975, 1.9 billion adults have fallen into the trap and its increasing at an alarming rate. To manage and to control, a beverage like oolong or black tea becomes a necessity as it increases the metabolic rate which eventually leads to substantial weight loss.
  4. Indian tea or our famous masala chai can be a go to drink loaded with goodness of native spices, when rightly made, which not only provides drinking pleasure but also improves digestion, enhances immune system and fights inflammation.

The side effects of urbanization, increased stress levels and the present ongoing pandemic scenario have directed the consumers positively to look inwards and find ways to reap benefits from their daily lifestyle. This is where tea plays a big role. We need to learn how to drink / consume tea that is not only enjoyable but also keeps us healthy for the long run.

“ Young urban consumers in large producing countries like India and China have emerged as the fastest growing segment, eager not only to pay a premium for speciality but also curious to know more about the product they consume-its quality, origin and contribution to sustainable development”- an interesting observation according to a report by FAO’s intergovernmental group of tea.

The Indian tea industry is set to reach USD 1 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 5.8% over the period. India’s contribution would be valuable when the exploratory approach to lesser known teas like ‘wild forage tea’ from Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, and other lesser known indigenous teas  which are known for health properties will be adopted and served, along with the vast range of whole leaf teas that we produce every year. With the existing resources and consumer base, India could become the hotspot for functional tea. All we need is some great planning, fool-proof marketing and impeccable execution. And the right intention.

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