There is just something so enticing about a challenge. From wrestling and sword-fighting to duels and diets, the human spirit is always willing to showcase its extraordinary ability to overcome whatever is thrown its way or to rise above the competition.
In this spirit, we present the Eight Cups of Tea Challenge, a challenge for self-improvement and healthy living.
Most of us have heard the advice for as long as we can remember: be sure to have eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day. It actually turns out that this advice is misguided. In the American Journal of Physiology, researchers instead found that foods with water content—such as vegetables—and even caffeinated drinks contribute to the body’s daily total water intake. Furthermore, studies have shown that the body is very efficient at regulating its water balance.
So much for the 8x8 water recommendation. Why then would we issue an Eight Cups of Tea Challenge?
In light of the published studies, you should be aware that it is perfectly suitable to drink anything with water content in place of water itself, and this includes tea. But why tea?
(1) A cup of tea is not the same size as a glass of water
The research is clear. Everybody’s bodies have different demands and needs. Those who are active or live in warmer climates will need more hydration than those who are sedentary or live in colder climates. Thus, the recommendation is not 8x8 but simply to hydrate as needed.
Because a cup of tea can be anywhere from 1 to 8 oz. and because it rehydrates you as much as water does, you have the freedom to cater it towards your particular body’s needs, finding the amount of tea that is best for you.
(2) Drinking tea can induce healthy changes in your genes
There was a study in Human Molecular Genetics that showed that women who drank tea regularly had experienced positive alterations in 28 different gene regions associated with cancer and estrogen metabolism. Of the 3,000 people surveyed whose DNA samples were analyzed, the same changes were not found in coffee drinkers.
(3) Tea creates a unique state of mind
Those of us who are avid tea drinkers know that there is just something different about tea than any other drink out there. It can be difficult to explain to those who haven’t had any experience with it. With every sip comes clarity, peacefulness, and energy. It sometimes can even feel as if one’s senses, including mental faculties, are heightened. It’s no wonder that it has been frequently used during meditation sessions.
It turns out that there may be a scientific reason for this as well. One of the key ingredients in tea is an amino acid known as L-theanine, and L-theanine has been positively correlated with lowering physiological states linked with stress and anxiety as well as boosting states linked with concentration, cognition, and mood.
The benefits of L-theanine are even increased when it is ingested along with caffeine—which naturally occurs in tea. If you’re worried about a sensitivity to caffeine, then it also helps to know that L-theanine counteracts the anxiety, nervousness, and jitteriness that caffeine can cause. You can always start by experimenting with tea that has less caffeine as well, such as a green tea or white tea.
(4) Loose leaf tea goes a long way
Did you know that many high-quality teas retain their flavor across multiple steepings? Some are even able to be reinfused upwards of 8 or more times, such as our 2006 dark tea Lao Liu Bao. Each infusion not only contains wonderful flavor but showcases slightly different flavor notes each time.
This alone is perhaps the best reason to start drinking more tea, and it is one of the loose leaf tea “secrets” that helps even the playing field with cheaper tea bags. By steeping your tea leaves multiple times, you in fact lower the cost per cup of your tea, and there’s no denying that loose leaf tea tends to have better flavor than bagged tea.
Considering the above, let us say goodbye to the 8x8 water recommendation and welcome the Eight Cups of Tea Challenge.
Make no mistake. This is a daily challenge. Not only is it healthy for us and promotes a better quality of life, but it also invites us to be more mindful of ourselves and one another. Drinking tea is a lifestyle. It is a vocation to show our compassion and gratitude for the present moment, to slow down, to cherish life.
Do you accept this challenge?
American Journal of Physiology, “‘Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.’ Really? Is there scientific evidence for ‘8 x 8’?,” http://www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/ajpregu.00365.2002
Human Molecular Genetics, “Tea and coffee consumption in relation to DNA methylation in four European cohorts,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28535255
Psychology Today, “What You Need to Know About L-theanine,” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201708/what-you-need-know-about-l-theanine