Red’s the new green when it comes to teas, according to Canada’s Toronto Sun newspaper. Red tea contains some of the same fat-fighting, disease-prevention antioxidants that helped green tea soar in worldwide popularity. And, it contains no caffeine, so there’s no risk of suffering sleeplessness or nervous jitters in drinking red tea. But red tea hasn’t been studied for its role in weight loss.
Red 'Tea' Isn't Real Tea
Red tea isn’t actually a tea. All natural teas -- green, black, white and oolong -- come from a single plant called Camellia sinensis. Red tea is an herbal drink made from the rooibos plant. Rooibos grows in the Cedarberg Mountains of South Africa. It has been used as a folk remedy for treating colic, malignancies and inflammation. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, red tea is a rich source of antioxidants that have been tested on animals but not humans for potential health benefits.
Flavonoids and Weight Loss
Red tea contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant found in green tea. If red tea is found to possess flavonoids in quantities similar to those found in green tea, it may prove effective in weight loss. Catechins, a type of flavonoid, has been linked to weight loss. In a U.S. clinical trial, for instance, people who consumed 660 milligrams of catechins daily lost twice as much weight as those who consumed 22 milligrams of catechins. The trial, led by a private researcher named Kevin Maki and published in February 2009 in the Journal of Nutrition, compared the weight loss effects of drinking green and black tea. If red tea proves to contain as many catechins as green tea, it could become a contender in the weight loss industry.
Red tea also contains antioxidants called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals help to give broccoli a reputation as a “nearly perfect vegetable,” according to The New York Times. Phytochemicals are found in plants, but some plants are richer sources than others. Plants high in phytochemical content tend to be dieter-friendly. Blackberries, strawberries and blueberries, for instance, are rich in phytochemicals and may help to boost metabolism, according to Leslie Beck, a nutritionist who writes regularly for The Globe and Mail.
If you try red tea and find that it helps you lose weight, you may want to stock up. Because rooibos grows only in South Africa, it could become scarce if marketers create a demand for the tea. Herbs such as ephedra and ginseng were over-harvested when weight loss supplement manufacturers found profit potential in the Chinese herbs. Demand for ephedra has dropped since the Food and Drug Administration banned its use.
Rooibos has been used for centuries in South Africa, but its usefulness and safety remain largely untested. The fact that red tea contains no caffeine may make it appealing to pregnant women, but caution is advised. Red tea sold by large tea manufacturing companies have likely undergone more safety tests than red tea sold online by independent enterprises, but anyone who wishes to drink red tea for weight loss should consult a medical professional.
- Phytochemicals: Rooibos
- The Toronto Sun: Red Tea’s the New Green; Rita Demontis
- The Washington Post: Give Green Tea a Try, but Get a Handle on the Perfect Brew for You; Robert L. Wolke
- Natural News: Red Tea or Rooibos Fights Liver Damage, Prevents Cancer and Treats Colic
- PubMed: A review of the bioactivity of South African herbal teas: rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia).
- Journal of Nutrition; Green Tea Catechin Consumption Enhances Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults; Kevin Maki et al
- Shana Novak/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.