In our office, tea (whose turn it is to make it and the type consumed) is somewhat a bone of contention. Over the last few years, there has been a slow but noticeable migration from standard English breakfast tea, to seemingly healthier, alternative teas i.e. fruity / herbal tea and the latest, most favoured green tea.

Previously, the main tea debate around the office was whose turn it was to make the next round. Period. Now, more than half of those involved in the tea round (me included) are requesting “just a hot water for me, please” and pulling out a fancy looking tea bag to join a cup of hot water, resulting in the tea maker having to make a variety of different drinks.

One particular member of the team started on the fruit / herbal teas after realising that the 4 or so cups of coffee he was consuming per day were doing him no favours. He would find himself with a headache by 1pm had he not already consumed a coffee. This soon started a debate as to what type of tea was considered acceptable in the office. My colleague received copious amounts of criticism, with other team members referring to the teas in a somewhat derogatory way. However, it appears he was ahead of the game, a trend setter of sorts, as now more than half of the office have strayed away from the original tea and coffee in favour of not only the fruit / herbal teas, but more recently the green tea.

With green tea seeming to be the latest social hot drink of choice and numerous myths surrounding its health benefits, OnePoll polled 1000 UK adults on their perceptions of it.

Green tea came out joint fourth most popular hot drink alongside Earl Grey, with English breakfast tea still coming out top as the number 1 hot beverage.

Top 5 hot drinks:

  1. English breakfast tea – 37%
  2. Coffee – 31.4%
  3. Hot chocolate – 11.10%
  4. Green tea / Earl Grey – 5.70%
  5. Fruit tea – 1.9%

Who drinks it and why?

Despite almost 4 in 10 (39.2%) Brits confessing to drinking green tea, a staggering 64% incorrectly identified or didn’t know exactly what it is. Green tea has been described as the production of fresh leaves from the plant which are steamed and unfermented, unlike black and oolong tea which are fermented. 19% thought green tea was simply a different flavour of normal tea.

10% more women than men confessed to drinking green tea. The North East of England drink green tea more than any other region (54%), whilst Wales are the least likely to drink it. The most popular age range of those who drink green tea is 25-34 year olds, with more than half admitting to doing so (51%) closely followed by the 18-24 year olds (45%). The least likely to drink green tea are the 55 and overs with 67% saying they never drink it.

Of the 39% who admitted to drinking green tea, they averaged out at drinking 1 cup per day. Although it is heavily debated how many cups you should drink a day, it is suggested that to maximise the reported health benefits, you should drink between 2-3 cups per day. This is based on number of polyphenols, which is thought should lie between 240-320 milligrams.

Green tea is an acquired taste and does take some getting used to. Clearly, not everyone who drinks the stuff actually enjoys it as 19% confessed to disliking the taste, suggesting they are only consuming it for the proposed health benefits, rather than enjoyment.

Like my colleague, 3 in 10 green tea drinkers said that they had had comments made or been judged on the fact that they are drinking green tea. However, 21% of the overall respondents said that they had been told to stop drinking normal tea or coffee in favour of green tea from those who do drink it.

Health benefits or no health benefits?

There is much debate surrounding the health benefits of green tea. When asked, more than a quarter of all respondents thought that drinking green tea aids weight loss. Further, 18% think green tea can help prevent Cancer and 8% believe it can help combat Alzheimer’s disease. With the NHS reporting little evidence to suggest green tea can help with any of the above and that the drink is simply a safe, social drink to consume, it begs the question are we misguided in our reasoning for consumption?

The research by OnePoll showed that 22% of Brits think that green tea does not have caffeine in. This could be a defining factor in why people choose to drink it, when actually green tea can have as much caffeine in it as black tea:

*Sizes are listed in fluid ounces (oz.) and milliliters (mL).

✝Caffeine is listed in milligrams (mg).

Opinions seems to be divided in the green tea debate. There were a mixture of both positive and negative comments made. Here are some encouraging comments from respondents:

“I love green tea, it’s a great substitute for drinking ordinary tea or coffee. I also like white tea, and nettle tea. When I drink it, it feels like it’s doing me good.”

“It refreshes me”

“It tastes nice and I believe it has many health benefits”

“the best of teas”

Whilst others described it as “disgusting”, “horrible”, “awful” and “nasty”.

Some chose to give some advice on how best to drink it:

“It’s often made badly…You shouldn’t use boiling water as it makes it bitter”

“…if it is with lemon or lime it tastes a lot better”

“Best cold brewed in place of squash”

For me, drinking green tea is more of a psychological thing. Having heard great things about the supposed health benefits, I gave it a go. I didn’t particularly enjoy it to start with, but stuck with it and am now oddly addicted to the bitter taste you get when you leave the teabag in for a long time. Despite understanding that there may actually be no real health benefits, I like to think that it is doing some good, even if it does have a questionable hue.

What do you think about green tea? Do you like / loathe it? Do you have any examples where green tea has benefitted you and your health?

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