Can black tea help you maintain sharpness at the older age?

Tea is a cosy drink. It reduces stress, calms you down, helps concentrating and sleeping. Tea is especially delicious when it’s cold outside. And, as you may know, people in the UK drink a lot of tea, which is why scientists from the Newcastle University conducted a study to see how tea helps older people with their cognitive condition.

Tea is refreshing and warming, but it is also good for your brain. Image credit: Ranjithsiji via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

For the matter of fact, tea is popular in a huge portion of the world. For our aging societies it is very important to stay sharper for longer. And tea might be just that delightful way of helping your brain, especially if you’re over 85.

More than one thousand participants were involved in this study that started back in 2006. Nurses gathered information by visiting participants in their homes. They answered some questions, had their movements measured, performed some function tests, blood samples were also taken. Scientists were very interested to see if drinking black tea helped with older people’s memory and cognitive performance in general. They found that it does help, but not so much with memory. People who regularly drink black tea could maintain concentration better, which, of course, helps with a variety of daily tasks. They also displayed better psychomotor speed, but only while performing complex tasks.

Scientists determined that older people need to drink at least 5 cups of tea per day to feel those effects. And they are not sure about what is causing them – it could be the beverage, but it could also be the ritual itself. Dr Edward Okello, lead author of the study, said: “The skills we see maintained in this group of very old may not only be due to the compounds present in tea, but it may also be the rituals of making a pot of tea or sharing a chat over a cup of tea are just as important.”

By the way, black tea is easily the most popular tea in the world, constituting 76–78% of the world’s tea consumption. And while stereotypes would dictate that British drink the most tea, the UK is actually in the third place of tea-loving countries. Turkey consumes much more tea per capita than the UK and Ireland is in the second place. But tea is the most popular hot beverage in the world, even if not everyone drinks as much tea as Turks, Irish and British.

Tea is a cosy drink. It is a part of a daily ritual. And scientists think that the ritual itself is probably as helpful as the beverage. Combating dementia is very important and if every little bit helps, drinking black tea 5 times per day is a good idea. Especially since many older people like drinking tea, playing cards and reading.

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