How To (Yet Again) Get 3 Times More Out Of Your Tea – Hack Your Tea Part 2

By Seppo | Diet

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Tea drinkers are big losers. With that I of course mean that 80% or more of the antioxidants in tea are wasted. That’s nothing short of a disaster, if you drink green tea for acne or other health reasons. Because antioxidants are where all the health action is.

We have two problems at our hands. The major issue is the absolutely abysmal bioavailability of green tea catechins (antioxidants). 80% of total catechins are destroyed during digestion. And the situation is even worse for the most important catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), 90 – 95% of which perish before it can do you any good.

The other problem is the rapid destruction of catechins in brewed tea, which can be an issue if you store tea in fridge or use it topically.

Luckily scientists have figured out ways to fix this. So don’t be a loser. Join in me figuring out quick, simple and ‘less than a penny’ solutions to these problems.

In the previous tea hacking post I showed how to optimizing your brewing techniques gives you 5 times more antioxidants per cup. Add to that what you’ll learn in this post for a really powerful cup of acne-smashing goodness.

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About the Author

Seppo Puusa, a.k.a. AcneEinstein shares rational advice about natural and alternative acne treatments. Read more about me and my acne struggles at the page.

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(37) comments

Rosmarie November 4, 2012

Did the research indicate what it was about sugar that made it beneficial in this aspect? I try to avoid sugar, so do you think honey or stevia would have the same effect?

Reply
    Seppo November 5, 2012

    No, they didn’t mention why sugar helped absorption. I presume it’s because sugar is absorbed rapidly and the catechins just get along for the ride. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear enough in the post, but xylitol in combination with vitamin C also helped absorption. I presume honey would also help, it’s more or less pure sugar anyway.

    Reply
Tim November 7, 2012

Great stuff this. Just as nerdy and thorough as one would expect by now ;)

it would be interesting with a write up that focused on optimizing nutrition/antioxidants from other foods, and dealing with (myths of?) food combining, time between meals, protein/carbs/fat-digestion and things related to this (meats and starches, fruits, is it better to avoid eating late in the evening, early on in the morning..etc). Are these things relevant in the struggle against acne?

Reply
    Seppo November 7, 2012

    Tim, happy to hear I live up to my usual standard of nerdiness!

    Are the things you mentioned relevant to acne? At first blush I would say no. I can take a look at some of the things you mentioned, like food combining. But I doubt I can find much published research on them.

    Reply
Bryan December 30, 2012

Hey Seppo.

Great site, great methodology. Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing all your research!

I see a contradiction here, however, which this article doesn’t seem to address. Adding sugar, honey, etc. to your green tea seems to help the body absorb more EGCG, which is good. But, sugar, as you state elsewhere on this site, leads to spikes in IGF-1, which boosts sebum production, which is bad. If you’re consuming between 3-6 cups of green tea a day, as you recommend, then the sugar intake adds up pretty quickly. So the question is, do you think the potential benefit of delivering the maximum amount of EGCG to the body offsets or outweighs the risk of using sugar to do it?

Also, you mention xylitol as an alternative to sugar. Do you know of any research that suggests that stuff doesn’t lead to spikes in IGF-1 in the same way sugar does? Thanks!

Reply
    Seppo January 3, 2013

    Bryan,

    Good point. Science is messy and we should expect some contradictions. To be honest, there’s no way to say whether the benefits from additional absorption of EGCG outweight the negative effects of added sugar.

    I simply report any interesting results I see in the research and it’s up to you to decide what to do about them. I don’t like to add sugar or sweeteners to my green tea, but that’s just a taste preference.

    I did some quick research on the effect of xylitol on blood sugar and insulin levels. There’s very little human research available, this was the only study I found:

    http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/65/4/947.long

    That study showed that a xylitol did slightly increase both blood sugar and insulin levels. According to this study the effect was only about 7% that of glucose. So in practical terms xylitol has only a minor effect on insulin, IGF-1 and blood sugar. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    I did see some animal studies that all showed xylitol has a positive effect on insulin and blood sugar levels.

    Reply
anon April 21, 2013

Great man. Very good info. I found most of those scientific papers but not unified like here and with a methodic explanation.

Reply
    Seppo April 22, 2013

    Glad to hear you liked the post!

    Reply
Patrick April 29, 2013

Very well researched and written article. Two questions:

1. Does decaffeination always decrease EGCG? I know that a chemical process has that effect, but what about a “natural” process, which uses CO2 to remove caffeine? I thought that was supposed to keep more of the good qualities of green tea.

2. Have you seen any research on green tea extracts, like those found in green tea capsules? I’m curious whether those improve bioavailability, or whether fresh green tea is best.

On the sugar issue, I can’t imagine a teaspoon of sugar will really aggravate acne. Two teaspoons of sugar is only 8 grams of carbs.

Reply
    Seppo April 30, 2013

    Thanks for your comment, Patrick.

    1. I don’t know. I haven’t looked into this in detail. The figures for decaffeinated tea come from the USDA report. I haven’t looked beyond that.

    2. Most of the research I cite is done with green tea extracts, not on actual green tea. That’s because it’s very difficult to standardize the EGCG doses using brewed green tea, but with extracts you always know how much EGCG there is to begin with.

    I just extended the findings to brewed green tea. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable assumption to make as both are in liquid form and have very similar nutritional profile.

    I also don’t think a teaspoon or two of sugar is a problem. We are talking about quite small amounts anyway. Of course those teaspoons add up if you drink 5 cups per day and add 2 teaspoons for each cup. It’s still not that much, though.

    Reply
David Bouffard July 13, 2013

I’m new to this blog, and have found I very helpful so far. Question…I picked up a green tea extract supplement pill (dry pill, as opposed to liquid capsul). It says that it contains 630 mg of green tea extract per servings, standardized to contain 15%polyphenols, or 94.5 mg. it also contains 25 mg of hoodia gordonii. My question is…do you think that supplementation like this would be as effective as brewed tea,as and what should my dosage bet for maximum effectiveness? I’m having difficulty converting “polyphenols” into EGCG. Thanks.

Reply
    Seppo July 15, 2013

    EGCG is the predominant polyphenol in green tea, usually accounting for 75% or so of the total polyphenol content (if I remember correctly). I’m not that familiar with green tea supplements, but 15% polyphenols sounds quite low. If my memory serves me correct (you can confirm this from the other green tea posts), studies have seen good results with 500mg of EGCG per day. So I would aim to that ballpark.

    Reply
      Adel-Alexander Aldilemi September 22, 2014

      Now foods supplement with green tea seems to be alright. I can’t drink green tea anymore because I have to bleach my teeth. :P

      Reply
Nate Deutsch October 2, 2013

I experience nasal congestion when drinking green tea. Is this a bad sign or does it matter?

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    Seppo October 3, 2013

    I don’t know anything about this. Better you talk it over with a doctor if you are concerned.

    Reply
andrew wu May 14, 2014

I have to ask you Seppa, what brand of green tea do you use? The stuff I use, is an Asian brand. Sen-cha Green Tea by yamamotoyama and when I brew this stuff, it comes out reddish, brownish, yellowish, Not really green at all! I know before oyu have talked about the color and its oxidation issue. Literally right after I brew it, it will be those colors. Yellow, then quickly turn brown, red. I’m wondering if I’m getting a quality product.

Reply
    Seppo Puusa May 15, 2014

    I use some Japanese tea brand available here in Thailand. The packaging is mostly Japanese so I couldn’t tell you what it is :) I think it’s classified as bancha or sencha. It’s nothing fancy, priced towards the lower end of Japanese loose leaf green teas available here. But I’m happy with the resulting tea. The color is nice light green and tastes mild. It sounds like you got a bad quality tea. It’s possible that the leaves have oxidized during storage. I would try some other brand.

    Reply
andrew wu May 23, 2014

How long do you think you should ideally wait, after taking in your green tea in the morning? I get bout 8 hours of sleep a night, and make sure that I don’t eat 4 hours before bed, so that I hit that nice 12 hour mark before drinking my green tea with Vit C. Of course though, I’m pretty hungry right after I drink the tea but am not sure how long would be best to wait before eating the first meal.

Reply
    Seppo Puusa May 25, 2014

    I’m not quite sure what you are asking. Are asking how many hours you should wait, or fast, before drinking green tea in the morning? If so, then I would just eat as you normally eat, there’s no need to do extra fasting to get additional benefits from green tea. Overnight is more than enough for that.

    Or are you asking how long to wait after you drink your tea in the morning? If so, feel free to more or less immediately afterwards. The point is to get the tea into empty stomach so that there’s as little other stuff in the stomach as possible. The tea should pass through the stomach very quickly, so there’s no need to wait.

    Here’s what I do. I make cold brewed green tea overnight. I drink about 1/2 liter of it in the morning as I’m preparing my breakfast and the rest with breakfast.

    Reply
Kelsey June 8, 2014

^^:;;; Hey thanks a lot for this! I’ll try it out. It seems a lot more credible than all those other “Get Rid of Acne Fast” scams. The internet appreciates you :D

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Adel-Alexander Aldilemi July 22, 2014

By vitamin C, do you mean crushed powder from a tablet or liquid?

Reply
    Adel-Alexander Aldilemi July 22, 2014

    Actually nevermind, you said mg so it’s a tablet. :P

    Reply
Andres Echeverria September 5, 2014

I don’t think it would hurt if we heard it from Seppo, though. So… how exactly do you administer the vitamin C along with the tea? If it’s a tablet, should you take the tablet some time before, during, or after you drink the tea?

Reply
    Andres Echeverria September 5, 2014

    Because in the official CFL guide you mention that you use the powder. But measuring 67 mg is so difficult when one half a teaspoon is > 2000 mg.

    Reply
      Seppo Puusa September 9, 2014

      There’s no harm in adding a bit more. I just dip the tip of a teaspoon into vitamin C powder bottle and mix that in.

      Reply
    Seppo Puusa September 9, 2014

    I mix the vitamin C into tea. The easiest way to do this is to get some powdered vitamin C and mix a tiny bit on the tip of a teaspoon into the tea.

    Reply
judith vandenbrande September 14, 2014

Hi Seppo,
Sugar get’s your insuline level up, which isn’t a good thing for acne. So why adding it to your tea?

Reply
    Seppo Puusa September 15, 2014

    It’s the dose that makes the poison. A teaspoon or two of sugar has no real effect on insulin levels and it’s not something you should worry about. Of course if you drink 5 to 6 cups of tea then it starts adding up.

    Just to make it clear, I’m not saying you have to add sugar to green tea. It’s just something that improves catechin absorption and thus could be helpful. If you are concerned about insulin, then you can use xylitol, aspartame or other non-caloric sweeteners. Or, do like I do, and have your tea unsweetened.

    Reply
judith vandenbrande September 15, 2014

Hi Seppo,
Thnx for your answer. What about replacing sugar for honey? It makes the tea less bitter, but does’t it affect it the tea in a bad way?
I’m a skin specialist from Holland and i’ m trying to help a 17 years old boy with server acne. Not only in his face but also on his back and chest. The dermatologist want’s to start with Roacutane but no other treatments have been tryed before. So i hope to be aible to help him in a more healthy way.
Money is little bit an issue, so i’m trying to help him without to much costs. Do you think spirulina of chlorella is a good supplement?Because it contains a lot of vitamines an minerals of whom i think it can have a positive affect on acne. What else can you recommend, because it’s not easy to find a good supplement which contains it all. And as you adviced, i don’t want him to take a whole lots of pills.

Reply
    Seppo Puusa September 18, 2014

    I’m not sure why you think honey would be better than sugar. Honey is more or less just sugar. Honey will probably help antioxidant absorption as well as sugar does, and probably doesn’t affect the tea in a bad way.

    I can’t really comment on your client’s case. Other than to say that you have to figure out what’s the root cause behind acne, I talked about it in my acne types post.

    For supplements, I would recommend trying zinc, omega-3 (DHA & EPA) and NAC or sillymarin. There’s some evidence to show those supplements are helpful in people with moderate/severe acne. Other supplements might be helpful, but it’s difficult to say with no research to draw from.

    Reply
Michael November 8, 2014

I love reading the post! im just as nerdy as you!
is it possible to add a herb to the tea with a high content of vit. C to get the same results as with a vit C powder? i know powder comes in higher doses but one could argue about the bioavailibillity of (cheap) vit c powders. your thoughts?

Reply
    Seppo Puusa November 8, 2014

    I doubt it. It’s not really about bioavailability of vitamin C. It’s about it protecting green tea catechins while they are in the gut. That said, perhaps there’s some herbs that has plenty of antioxidants that do the same thing.

    Reply
Michael November 8, 2014

Hmmm interesting. Any herbs that come to mind?
Where i buy the tea you can let it me mixed the way you want! so if i want some japanse green tea with some hibiscus in it. He just mixes it! and then you have to hope it tastes good ;)
So with herbs would you recommend for maximum vit c combined with green tea

Reply
    Michael November 8, 2014

    sorry i i could find back my reply so thought it went wrong.

    Reply
      Seppo Puusa November 9, 2014

      I have a fairly strict comment moderation policy to keep the spammers out. That’s why many comments go to moderation. It helps if you don’t put anything to the ‘website/URL’ field.

      Reply
    Seppo Puusa November 9, 2014

    No, sorry. Herbal medicine is fraught with quackery and as such I haven’t been that interested in herbs and don’t know much about them. I know hisbiscus tea allegedly has higher antioxidant potential than green tea and might be helpful in acne.

    I’m not quite sure why you are looking for alternatives to vitamin C powder. It’s a cheap and convenient solution that has been shown to work. So I don’t really see a point in looking for alternative solutions that will be, for sure, be more expensive and less convenient and we don’t know they’ll work any better than vitamin C – or if they even work.

    Reply
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