Brewing Up – The Science of Tea!

It’s one of the world’s most popular drinks, from a mug of tea to Earl Grey in fine china to a batch of Kombucha, everyone has a favourite tea. This fascinating drink has a great history and lots of science to consider. Tea is produced from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis and scientists have been studying the effect tea has on mood and cognition. A paper in Nature [outlook] in 2019 explained how researchers had found that tea drinking lowers the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Research is trying to establish what are the main compounds that give tea its benefits and if these compounds work in isolation or collectively.

Tea catechins — antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate— account for up to 42% of the dry weight of brewed green tea, and the amino acid L-theanine makes up around 3%. Epigallocatechin gallate is thought to make people feel calmer and improve memory and attention when consumed on its own. L-theanine is found to have a similar effect when consumed in combination with caffeine. Up to 5% of the dry weight of green tea is caffeine, which is known to improve mood, alertness and cognition. This means that tea is a bit of a paradox as it makes up feel alert and calm at the same time.

And we have to wonder is there a science to making the perfect cup of tea? We are sure there is and those who turn off the kettle just before it boils need to listen up! Alan Mackie of Leeds University’s School of Food Science and Nutrition has looked at this contentious issue of making the perfect cup of tea. First of all, you pour the milk as he found the proteins in the milk lowers the mineral content of the water and allows the flavour to be locked in. You also need to know how hard your water. How hard your water is determined by the amount of calcium and magnesium in it. The majority of water in Ireland is hard. Alan Mackie’s research found that flavour in tea is produced by the tannins and it’s more difficult with hard water for these compounds to develop fully. Also, if you like steeping the tea bag and removing it and then adding milk, you need to stop. Doing it this way means that the tannins turn into solids before flavours can develop. So if you want the perfect cuppa, it’s milk first, softened water and lots of practice. It turns out there’s a lot to know about tea and a great resource on all things tea is The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard, where you can learn about all types of tea and how to prepare them.

 

I Like to Move It!

‘I Like to Move it’ is a unique online event exploring the science of joint health with Angela Camon, advanced rheumatology nurse practitioner and Dr Craig Slattery of UCD. This event will explore everything from the science of arthritis to the science of pain management and is part of national Science Week, supported by Science Foundation Ireland.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman commented, ‘According to statistics published by Arthritis Ireland, one million people in Ireland, including many children, are living with arthritis. There is therefore a very strong chance that we all personally know other people who are suffering with this condition. Unfortunately, there is so much more to arthritis than just the actual joint pain itself. People of all ages are also struggling with managing the associated fatigue, stiffness, inflammation and the effects that joint pain can have on their mental health.’

Society is also undoubtedly affected by arthritis, which is often classed as an invisible disease and is the cause of many people being unable to attend work due to ongoing pain issues. However, with the right quality of care, advice, understanding and in some cases, lifestyle changes, many people are more in control of the effects of arthritis and can still lead full lives.

Jackie Gorman continued, ‘Everyday tasks can become frustratingly difficult for people with arthritis. We hope that this event, which will explore ways to better manage your joint health will help people who are living with pain and we look forward to hearing from advanced rheumatology nurse practitioner, Angela Camon, on how people can take an active role in their pain management for a better day to day quality of life.’

We Love Chocolate…..

chco event 2….So you can imagine how pleased we were when we recently heard that it can actually be good for you! Check out some of the best reasons we can find not to feel guilty about eating one of our favourite foods!

  • The amount of caffeine in chocolate is quite low compared to coffee and other things we sometimes claim boost one’s energy.
  • Chocolate is a natural painkiller.
  • Dark chocolate aids the “good” bacteria in your body.
  • Eating chocolate can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Chocolate’s scent increases the amount of relaxation-inducing brainwaves.
  • Regularly eating dark chocolate reduces ones risk of heart disease.
  • Eating dark chocolate can help protect your skin from being damaged by the sun.
  • The anti-oxidants in chocolate will keep you looking young

…And one of our favourite Irish scientists/friend to the Midlands Science Festival, Professor Luke O’ Neill, recently informed us that its just a myth that chocolate causes acne, so better again! Everything in moderation of course, but for now after a hard day’s work ….we are happy to tuck in!