Legend is that tea began in ancient China 5,000 years ago. Shen Nung, a Chinese emperor issued an edict requiring that drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day some dried leaves from a bush fell into a pot of boiling water at the palace, and tea was created. Certainly sounds plausible…but 5,000 years later can you believe the urban legends about tea going around?
We’ve all heard some urban legends (no, not Keith Urban!), those sometimes plausible-sounding but false stories on your e-mail and all across the web. Well, there are several tea urban legends too, like on hot summer days you can cool off with hot tea — it makes sweat, cooling your skin. But it’s not so. For one reason the heat lost by sweating and evaporation on the skin is exceeded by the heat gained by the hot drink.
Another urban tea legend is that tea is a diuretic, which does not have to be true. Tea does not have a diuretic effect due to caffeine unless the amount of tea consumed at one sitting is more than 250–300 mg caffeine, or between five and six cups. In fact, the British Dietetic Association advises that “Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink.” And the popular belief is that water is the best for hydration, but tea has additional positive benefits over water.
And the myth that tea contains as much or more caffeine than coffee? It’s the contrary; according to the American Dietetic Association, a cup of tea averages 40 mg of caffeine, compared to 85 plus mg found in a cup of brewed coffee. So enjoy that cup of tea, it’s refreshing and healthful, and that’s no legend.