For centuries, tea has been used (and abused) in China as an aid to weight loss, and the science backs this up. I reckoned I can’t be alone in my New Year’s resolution to sort my eating habits out, so I thought I’d share what I know about using (and not abusing) Chinese tea to help control my weight.
The trick is to match your symptoms to the right tea. If your symptoms match more than one tea, drink them both or just choose the one you enjoy most. If you don't recognise any of these symptoms, opt for a good quality lose leaf green tea, like Kandula Ceylon Green Tea or Elixir's super healthy organic wild-harvested Jade Stream tea.
But doesn't tea make you hungry?
It is true that drinking some kinds of tea can make you feel hungry. Green tea can make you a little peckish if you drink too much of it on an empty stomach, while you can get away with drinking oolong tea any time in larger quantities. Stick to drinking puerh tea with your meals and limit yourself to half a mug at first. If you stick to these rules, your tea will help you stick to your diet.
Go for oolong tea if:
Your tongue quivers when you stick it out (go take look in the mirror)
You get sugar cravings
You feel faint, shaky, confused or aggressive when hungry
Oolong tea is great for stabilising blood sugar levels, which makes sweet foods less tempting. In fact, it is so effective that a study published by the American Diabetes Association recommends it as an adjunctive treatment for type II diabetes. Our favourites are the wonderfully named Iron Goddess of Mercy (that's Ti Kuan Yin in Chinese) and Elixir's ridiculously healthy Living Tea, Osmanthus Valley.
Go for cooked puerh tea if:
Your tongue quivers when you stick it out
Your limbs tend to feel cold or weak
You don’t fancy breakfast until after 9am
Puerh tea supports weight loss in a variety of ways. An excellent study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Medicine concluded that it improved central obesity, adjusted blood lipids and lowered blood sugar. It went on to recommend puerh tea for early prevention of metabolic syndrome (the medical term for a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity). The benefits of puerh tea go way beyond weight loss!
A popular cooked puerh tea in our shop is Corinium Eastern's Black Puerh caddie filler. We also love the healthiest stuff on the market, a Living Tea called Hidden Amber. These are great teas, but if they make you feel like you could climb Everest, we’d recommend taking things down a notch and opting for a good oolong instead.
Go for raw puerh tea if:
Your tongue does not quiver
Your head feels fuggy, muzzy or heavy
You tend to feel nauseous, especially after eating
You get a stuffy or full feeling under your ribs
Raw puerh is just as good for you as cooked puerh. Our mini tuocha puerh cakes (available in store) are fun to brew and have a lovely flavour. If you prefer to go for a top-of-the-range organic Living Tea, then Yunnan Peak is the one for you.
A note about caffeine
It’s worth saying that all these teas do contain caffeine. Caffeine in moderation has some great health benefits, but too much will wear you out. The caffeine in tea is released more slowly into the system than the caffeine in coffee, meaning that tea is more gentle on the body. As always, moderation is the key. Listen to your body and stop when you have had enough. It is important to keep your caffeine intake down in pregnancy, so if you are pregnant, stick to just one or two cups a day.