I love tea this time of year. It’s warming. It’s soothing. It’s nourishing.
And, while I’m no fan of caffeine, I can appreciate fellow tea drinkers of all shades.
Personally, “red bush” rooibos is my favorite, followed closely by honey bush rooibos. Then, peppermint and chamomile, respectively.
As we articulated in this September LT editorial, tea offers many health benefits, including protecting your liver, easing depression, and guarding against cancer.
But tea’s most prominent and well-known role is that of antioxidant.
Yet, drinking tea regularly doesn’t necessarily mean you’re optimizing that antioxidant power.
Tea Steep Times Matter for Antioxidant Value
Intuitively, I’m a steeper; I’ve always liked to fire up my tea water as hot as I can get it…then let my tea steep for minutes on end before taking a single sip—typically no less than 15 minutes, oftentimes more than 20. Perhaps I’m little more than some pretentious Euro-elite-wannabe or something. Who knows?
Nonetheless…my steeping habit is why I found this study , published in the peer-reviewed journal Beverages, so interesting when I ran upon it.
Looking to assess the availability of those polyphenols responsible for that potent antioxidant action, researchers from Brooks University in St. Catherine, Ontario, set out to investigate tea steep times and their effect on the availability of antioxidants.
Researchers studied eight varieties of tea: dragonwell, sencha, English breakfast, golden monkey, green rooibos, red rooibos, chamomile, and peppermint. All were loose leaf.
The team proceeded to steep each tea in varied time intervals, from one to 10 minutes.
What’s so interesting is the team found that steeping less than five minutes, on average, did not optimize the antioxidant value of any tea. However, anything over ten minutes seemed redundant—at least from an antioxidant standpoint.
Furthermore, steeping for less than five minutes did not alter the potential antioxidant value.
What does this mean?
Well, if you only managed to steep your tea for, say, two minutes, and you’re looking for maximum antioxidant value, you could just refrain from drinking it for a few minutes, re-steep the stuff, and then you should be good.
Though, my 15 to 20-minute ritual does now seem like utter nonsense, don’t you think? 🙂
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