Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese beverage made from the same plant as white tea, black tea and green tea. The differences in the four teas come from a difference in fermentation. While black tea is completely fermented and white and green teas are unfermented, oolong is a partially-fermented option.
Although there are many purported benefits that come from drinking this type of hot drink, the scientific research is somewhat lacking when it comes to distinguishing medical facts with what advertisers want customers to believe.
What we do know is that oolong tea is caffeinated, which can be dangerous in high quantities and isn’t suitable for everyone. When looking into adding oolong tea into your daily routine as an alternative medicine approach, do your research to understand the full implications of such a choice.
Possible Benefits of Drinking Oolong Tea
Experiencing Mental Alertness
Oolong tea is often consumed as a way to boost one’s mental stamina, providing a hot dose of caffeine to wake your body and mind up. Additionally, oolong tea actually contains two other components, theophylline and theobromine, which also act like a caffeine boost to your body.
The actual concentration of caffeine in any given cup can differ based on the brewing method and other variables, but in general, a cup can house anywhere from fifty to sixty milligrams of caffeine. Some individuals find one cup in the morning to be enough of a helpmeet for sharpening their minds while others end up drinking multiple cups throughout the day.
Finding Relief from Head Pains
Because some people turn to caffeinated beverages for headache treatments, a segment of those who drink oolong tea do so in attempts to relieve their headaches. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, heart and muscles. Anecdotally, some tea drinkers cite improvement shortly after they have finished their beverage while other individuals find their headaches actually worsen after the increased consumption of caffeine.
Lowering Cancer Risks for Women
Studies have shown that tea drinkers–regardless of whether they favor a white, black, green or oolong pick–have lower risks of developing ovarian cancer. The science of why that correlation exists, however, is not completely understood. Oolong tea may also help prevent other types of cancerous growths including skin and stomach varieties.
Seeing Eczema Improvement
Oolong tea may be able to help in treating skin allergies and improving eczema. In studies, some who suffer from such a condition saw positive results in a week or two after consuming a total of thirty-four ounces a day divided up in three different doses.
Experiencing Possible Cardiovascular Benefits
Oolong tea may be able to help prevent high blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol levels. For those who suffer from type two diabetes, drinking fifty ounces of this tea may also help lower their blood sugar. The antioxidant qualities of the tea may provide further protective benefits against free radical damage that can harm your health overall.
The caffeine and polyphenol combination in oolong tea may help contribute to your weight loss and weight management goals. The tea can help control your body’s metabolism of fat and may be able to help reduce obesity. The research in humans is lacking, but animal studies have shown a positive response to the regular consumption of the polyphenol content.
The Risks of Consuming Oolong Tea
Presenting Unwanted Side Effects
In excess, caffeine can produce serious side effects including irregular heartbeats, tremors and convulsions. Other more common symptoms include headaches, sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn, dizziness and irritability.
Posing Pregnancy and Nursing Concerns
If you are pregnant or nursing, you should avoid the regular consumption of oolong tea because of the caffeine content, which can cause harm to your baby. Caffeine can lead to premature delivery and low birth weight. The substance can also increase irritability and affect the digestive tract of infants who are breastfed.
Delivering Dangers for Those with Preexisting Conditions
Because oolong tea contains a notable concentration of caffeine, individuals who consume the beverage may find their preexisting health challenges worsened. Caffeine can increase the severity of anxiety disorders, heart issues and bowel problems. The stimulating substance can also affect bleeding disorders, complicate blood sugar control and weaken bone health.
Caffeine can dramatically affect all kinds of body parts, increasing the pressure inside of the eye and raising the blood pressure for those who already deal with hypertension. Experimenting with oolong tea or any other caffeinated option can have serious consequences so talk with a trusted medical professional before moving forward.
Negatively Interacting with Certain Medications
If you are taking any medications or recreational drugs that stimulate the nervous system, introducing another stimulant into your system such as caffeine can magnify the results and dangerously raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Alternatively, caffeine can interact with other treatments in a way that weakens your body’s ability to properly digest the caffeine. This, in turn, can actually magnify the side effects you experience from having consumed caffeine.
When taking some other medications, caffeine can block the desired effects from the medication itself. If you take any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, be sure to read the warning labels and understand if consuming caffeine while on your particular medications is a well-known concern. Antibiotics, birth control pills, diabetes medications and all sorts of other treatments can pose a risk.
If you suspect problems, stop drinking the tea and check with your medical professional. Even if caffeine isn’t directly listed as having a potential interaction with your treatment, you might still be experiencing side effects from the combination and should proceed with caution. Listen to your body and don’t ignore the warning signs when something isn’t right.
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?
Everyone’s body is different and everyone has to choose for themselves what to put in their mouth and what to avoid. Personally, the caffeine content is too much of a concern for me to happily consume oolong tea like the proponents encourage.
Looking at the pros and cons, there are other individuals that reach different conclusions for their bodies and that’s completely up to them. When introducing any new element into your diet, start by consuming small quantities rather than immediately adopting a habit of drinking multiple cups a day. See how your body reacts to oolong tea in limited doses before dramatically increasing your intake.