Tea Time for PCOS

My love affair with tea began years ago when I was in my twenties.  On Saturday afternoons, I loved treating myself to high tea at the Elizabeth Anne’s, a local tea shop. The whole ritual of having my own beautiful porcelain pot of tea and scrumptious crumpets and accoutrements to go with it, made me feel like a character from one of Jane Austen’s novels. When the shop suddenly closed its doors, I realized that I could create that special feeling at home.  Over time, the tea biscuits and sandwiches have changed (I now prefer a homemade gluten free cookie occasionally with my tea) but the tea time ritual has become one of my ways of self-care which helps me manage my PCOS.

This past fall, I had the honor to organize and attend a tea for women who live at Margeurittes Place, a transitional housing program for women and children in crisis. It was wonderful to pamper these moms with the nourishing ritual of tea time.   A lovely lady and tea expert, Danielle Beaudette  of The Cozy Tea Cart,catered the event and spoke to us

Danielle Beaudette of The Cozy Tea Cart

about tea.  Danielle is one of only 40 experts to have completed all levels of the US Specialty Tea Institutes (STI) Certification program.  Danielle explained that all tea, whether it is green, black or white  comes from a single type of plant, the “camellia sinensis”,  just as all wine comes from “vitas vinifera”.  Within each of these plant families there are several varieties. In addition to the specific variety, the environment, weather, and of course the tea master all play a role in making each tea different.

Danielle went on to extol the benefits of loose leaf tea. The top two leaves and bud are hand plucked and used to produce loose leaf .These young buds contain the most antioxidants because the longer the leaves spend on the bush, the health benefits decrease.  With commercially produced tea, machines take the old and new leaves as well as the twigs of the plant.  Another problem with commercially produced bagged tea is that the tea bags are bleached with chlorine which can leach into the tea during steeping. The chlorine also contributes to the shorter shelf life of the tea bag tea (approx. 6 months). Loose leaf tea, if stored properly, can have up to a year and a half shelf life.

BENEFITS OF TEA FOR PCOS

1. Tea helps prevent weight gain and insulin resistance

In her talk, Danielle explained that all health studies are done using only loose leaf tea. A Kobe University Study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that mice given a high fat diet along with regular amounts of both green and black tea suppressed body weight gain and the build-up of belly fat. This study also showed that black tea, the most widely consumed in this country, had the most favorable effects on high blood cholesterol and insulin resistance, conditions associated as precursors to type-2 diabetes.

2. Herbal infusions help reduce testosterone

While not technically “tea”, Spearmint herbal tea or rather infusions have  the potential for use as a helpful and natural treatment for hirsutism in PCOS. see study And licorice infusions can also reduce serum testosterone probably due to the block of 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 17-20 lyase. Licorice may also help with hirsutism and polycystic ovary syndrome. see study

3. Tea enhances mood and helps with anxiety

The calming effect of green tea can be explained by the action of L-theanine a non-protein amino acid which is naturally occurring in tea. This amino acid actually acts antagonistically against the stimulatory effects of caffeine on the nervous system. see study Research on human volunteers has demonstrated that L-theanine creates a sense of relaxation in approximately 30-40 minutes after ingestion via at least two different mechanisms. First, this amino acid directly stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation. Second, L-theanine is involved in the formation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA influences the levels of two other neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, producing the key relaxation effect. (1)

4. Tea is a wonderful source of antioxidants

Tea is one of the largest sources of flavonoids in our diet. The flavonoids in tea contain approximately 30 polyphenolic compounds. These compounds are studied extensively for the benefits they contribute to tea. Polyphenols contain catechin molecules which are the antioxidants. Catechins  are present in all teas made from Camellia sisensis. The major catechin in tea is EGCG and is the most potent antioxidant. The antioxidant properties in tea help cells replicate their DNA accurately by combining with free radicals and then neutralizing them. Skip the bottled stuff. “Most commercially bottled teas contain fewer antioxidant polyphenols (less than 45mg) than home-steeped varieties (50-150 mg)” according to preliminary findings presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. (Better Home and Gardens, December 2010, pg. 250)

5. Tea can be a substitute for diet soda and sugary drinks

I find that clients who are addicted to diet drinks, Crystal Light, sugary juices and Vitamin Water, find that tea is a satisfying alternative. Tea is all-natural and free of calories and preservatives. Rather than depleting nutrients from the body like soda does, tea actually  contains B, C, and E vitamins, and the minerals folic acid, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, fluoride, and carotene.  It also has caffeine  which in moderation can have beneficial effects on the body: it increases alertness, stimulates metabolism and contributes to an increase in dopamine levels in the blood, which improves mood. The L-Theanine in the tea also helps to balance the caffeine’s effects and provides a sense of calm. And it is easy to sweeten tea using a little stevia.

Danielle explained that most experts agree that you should drink 4-5 cups of tea a day for maximum health benefits. Most high quality loose leaf teas can be re-infused 5 or 6 times, with some Oolongs giving up to 10-12 infusions from a single serving. This makes the actual cost per serving of premium loose leaf teas very inexpensive.

The best news is that Danielle has been kind enough to offer all Divas a 15% discount on her loose leaf teas. You can order them from her website The Cozy Tea Cart.com .  Just use the code Tea101 in the notes section and Danielle will refund 15% off all TEA that is ordered.  These are some of my favorites from The Cozy Tea Cart :

Matcha A sweet and toasty Genmaicha has been blended with Matcha green tea to provide you with an amazing brew that took 1st place in the flavored green tea category two years in a row at the World Tea Expo.

TCTC Spice A rich, full-bodied Sri-Lankan black tea blended with orange peel, spices, clove oil, and all natural flavoring that is sweetly spicy. This is the perfect tea on a frigid day– the fragrant, delightful spices will warm you quickly.

Almond Cookie This organic China sencha green tea is blended with grated coconuts and almond flakes which naturally sweetens the tea. Pefectly blended for a slight sweetness, but without the calories!

Organic Green with Citrus and Ginko This refreshing blend delivers the benefits associated with green tea and ginkgo, along with the bright taste of natural citrus.

Organic Morracan Mint Green Superior organic gunpowder tea from China is blended with organic peppermint, organic spearmint and organic peppermint flavoring. It produces a deep amber infusion with an invigorating and harmonious flavor that will revitalize your taste buds!

Organic Herbal Sore Throat This warm and spicy concoction is great for sore throats and tastes great! Contains: Marshmallow root, licorice root, echinacea purpurea root, orange peel, cinnamon bark, ginger root, fennel seeds and cloves.

Good quality loose leaf tea can be re-infused several times. The most important thing to remember when brewing tea is to brew only what you can serve into your cup or serving pot at one time. Steep your tea and then pour ALL of the liquor off the leaves into your cup or serving pot. This practice allows you to then re-infuse your leaf with more hot water over and over again.Brewing tea in this way will keep you from burning the leaves of the green teas and keep your black teas from turning bitter, due to the tannins in the tea.

Try to find time during your day to slow down and enjoy a cup or five!

1. Mason R. 200 mg of Zen; L-theanine boosts alpha waves, promotes alert relaxation. Alternative & Complementary Therapies 2001,April; 7:91-95

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  • Sylvia

    I was just going to post to you on Facebook about Spearmint tea! I’ve added 2-3 cups a day and I personally feel it is helping my PCOS symptoms! I drink a spearmint and black tea mix.
    Thank you for this excellent site, I tell everyone I know about it!

    • Elle

      Sylvia, I have been reading about the benefits of Spearmint tea recently as well, and just started drinking it myself. I was wondering what symptoms you feel it’s helping you with? Thanks for sharing!

  • Emily

    I drink green tea and various green tea infusions everyday because it helps keep me away from sugar filled sodas and other drinks. So you can imagine how happy I was to see a post about tea and its benefits for someone with PCOS.

  • Nelda Wheat

    This is great! I am doing well with getting rid of soda..but love the fact that this is a great altrnative. I didn’t know I could infuse so many times!

  • Angela

    I just received my order of tea. I purchased the TC TC tea and the Morrocan Mint. I just had a cup of the TCTC . Wow! Its the best tea I have ever had! I just love it. I think the tea in the leaf form, vs in a tea bag that I have bought in the past is so much better. I didn’t know it can be re infused too.

    • http://pcos.designbyansley.com Amy

      Angela-
      Thanks for sharing! I love TCTC tea too – I’ll have to try the Mint next time.

  • Anne

    I love drinking hibiscus tea. Studies have shown that drinking hibiscus tea can significantly lower blood pressure, and that is always a welcome side effect, given that many cysters also suffer from this as a result of PCOS.

  • Jenne

    What about loose leaf white tea? Does that have the same benefits?

    • http://pcos.designbyansley.com Amy

      Each type of tea has its own unique benefits. I like to drink a variety so I get a little of each – white, green and black.

  • Nikki

    I grew up in Texas were sweet tea was always in the fridge. I love tea, but I was wondering what you would suggest when it comes to a sweetner.

    • http://pcos.designbyansley.com Amy

      Nikki – I would try fruit teas like Passion Fruit – they have a sweeter taste. Also maybe you could use a little stevia.

  • Amaris Moss

    Some of the Yogi Teas have stevia leaf in them already, so you don’t have to add sweetener. I love tea. I’ve recently been drinking Slique Tea from a company called Young Living. It’s a oolong cacao tea with a mild chocolate spice flavor that helps me when I start having crazy carb & sweets cravings.

  • Bec Rosewall

    Hi divas, I have been told to limit my green tea intake as caffeine can effect hormones for us with PCOS…..has anybody else heard of this? I love my green tea!

    • http://pcos.designbyansley.com Amy

      Green tea has a lot of great properties for PCOS. The caffeine is tempered by the amino acid l-theanine. But with anything in life moderation is key. I won’t be giving up my green tea.

  • http://nikkivalentinefashion.com Nikki Valentine

    Green tea has amazing effects! Weight loss, improves skin issues and hirsutism drink up ladies! Good article!

  • Cassie

    Thank you so much for this post! I had started to read about the benefits of spearmint and green tea, but not yet about the benefits of loose leaf or the proper way to brew loose leaf tea. I am hoping to use tea as a powerful combatant against my PCOS acne and hair growth. One question that I do hope you can answer; This post notes the benefits of black tea, but I have so far read that caffeine inhibits insulin receptors (or something like that) which is not good for PCOS sufferers. Is the solution here to drink decaffinated black tea, or do the health benefits of black tea outweigh the caffeine content? I’d really appreciate someone getting back to me about these questions, I’m only just learning about how to best fight my PCOS and the symptoms. Thank you, Cassie

    • llemmingtron

      Honestly the debate over caffeine and insulin issues is ongoing and there are no clear answers here. Caffeine is processed differently depending on where it’s come from and whether or not it’s natural. I’d say that if you were to ingest caffeine, keep it from organic sources and keep it low. Coffee is neither here nor there in this issue, but if you drink it and your insulin issues get worse, then obviously you should stop. Black and green tea, in moderation, generally don’t cause issues; however, every person is different. In short, listen to your own body. If you begin drinking tea and notice your insulin resistance increasing, then stop. How would you tell if your resistance is getting worse? You’d gain weight, you’d feel sluggish, and you might even notice yourself becoming tired after a meal. Those are all good indicators.

  • Brandi

    What black tea’s are recommended? I like to buy at our local Teavana since it’s so convenient but not sure which one to get? Or would you recommend somewhere else? Maybe local health store etc…? Great post, dealing with PCOS and birth control is not working for me, just finished my round of progesterone hopefully will get to regulating my cycle. Love my tea’s and would like to try a more healthy natural approach to healing now!

    • http://pcosdiva.com Amy

      My favorite is Earl Grey!

  • llemmingtron

    Excellent article, as usual :)

    Licorice is a fickle mistress, though, so if you drink it and don’t feel very good–stop. Most people can do licorice for a little while, then their adrenals begin to fatigue and it’s best to take a rest from them. I know licorice is touted as a great herb for the adrenals, however it is not an adaptogen (like withania), it instead forces the adrenals to “work” (produce cortisol/DHEA) and so it’s best to keep exposure to licorice short, take a break, then go back on it.

    Licorice and chinese white peony together are great for PCOS–reducing testosterone and supporting adrenals. In fact, I did a three month trial on it using a chinese herb compound which practically STOPPED my hirsutism and gave me all kinds of energy. However, after three months I began feeling terrible and had to stop it. I had, in fact, damaged my adrenals with this regimen and made the hirsutism worse because my DHEA went through the roof and my progesterone plummeted after my adrenals could not produce cortisol anymore. If I were to do it again, I’d do it in tea form and cycle it.

    So my advice is to keep the dosage low (do not drink more than a few cups of licorice tea a day), and take breaks from it.

    Spearmint is great for those with hirsutism and hair loss and I’d use it myself if I weren’t taking homeopathic remedies–as it is an antidote to almost every remedy. You can also get spearmint tablets if the tea doesn’t taste very good to you. A lot of women who have shared their ‘testimonies’ about this treatment have said they used it for two weeks and it did nothing, so they stopped. I’d like to say that two weeks is nowhere near enough time for spearmint to work for you–try two months, instead!

    And of course none of this will do you any benefit if you’re putting white sugar in your tea. Instead, brew each cup or batch with a bit of whole stevia leaves, or put a pinch of whole stevia leaf powder in each cup after brewing. Honey is also ok, but I personally avoid it because of candida issues.

  • Jenna Weiner

    FYI – typo near the end: ‘of the liquor off the leaves’. I’m pretty sure that should be ‘liquid.’ :) Great article though!

  • Nathalie Fortier-Beck

    I was able to find organic spearmint leaves at Organic Planet…it makes a delicious herbal spearmint tea. The vast majority of spearmint leaves come from Egypt. I love it. I also found a lovely little Tea Shop at my local mall (Square One) in Mississauga that sells quality loose leaf teas. Bought myself some very good green tea from Dragon Well. The shop girl showed us how to steep it, and gave us loads of info about other teas. As a long time sufferer of PCOS, teas are something that really make a big difference in my health.