While caffeine addicts pray that researchers would find great news that coffee or tea wards off illness, especially during the nasty flu season, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, and the Joint Research Unit for Crop Diversity, Adaptation and Development in Montpellier have discovered a potentially healthier option to two of the most widely used (ahem, or abused) substances.
Is it tea or is it coffee? Well, it’s neither. Or both. The so-called “coffee leaf tea” is a beverage made from the leaves of the “coffea” plant. This option is seemingly grossly overlooked in a “d’oh – why didn’t I think of that before” kind of way. Coffee drinkers have been so focused on the seed of the coffea plant while tea drinkers taunt that their beverage is better – but it looks like the coffee leaf tea has them both beat.
The researchers discovered the coffee leaf tea has more antioxidants than regular tea as well as a chemical found in mangoes, called mangiferin, known to alleviate inflammation, reduce the risk of diabetes and high cholesterol and protect neurons in the brain. Antioxidants, of course, have thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The drink also contains low levels of caffeine.
Researchers describe the flavor of the coffee leaf tea as earthy, “a bit like cut grass” according to master tea taster Alex Probyn. Flavors akin to menthol or eucalyptus help to soften the bitterness, similar to what you might experience with a green tea.
Coffee leaf tea is not yet widely available, but it just might turn into the latest caffeine trend, particularly with more research, as the scientists say is needed to discover the impact of the tea on the human body.