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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Science Time with Jeanne: Get Gorgeous Tea

I am not a big coffee drinker. I will often opt for tea, whether it's a chai latte, a green tea latte at Starbucks (helpful hint: tell the barista "no melon" to get a real matcha flavor), unsweetened iced tea, or just a regular tea bag.

I'm also always on the look out for the miracle product that'll improve my skin. After lapsing in caring for it in my teenage years, I've got a lot of catching up to do before it's too late. My collection of skincare products keeps growing and growing, yet I think I've found a fairly happy balance for now. Still, the pursuit continues.

So when I saw that the Republic of Tea was offering a tea called "Get Gorgeous" that claimed to help improve skin, I had to give it a try for science's sake. What precisely is in "Get Gorgeous"? There are three main ingredients that I'm going to be focusing on: rooibos (also known as "red tea"), chamomile, and pomegranate.

Rooibos and pomegranate are both well-known antioxidants, which fight what's called a "free radical". A free radical is a molecule or atom that's missing at least one electron and is thus unbalanced. These can come from normal processes in your body, like breaking down sugars, certain medications, or from pollution such as cigarette smoke.

If you remember high school chemistry, an unbalanced molecule/atom will attach to another molecule/atom in order to balance itself out and make itself "happy", as my teacher would have said. Unfortunately, to make itself "happy", a free radical can interfere with or damage its new partner in your body, and that can make your body unhappy. Antioxidants jump in to balance out these free radicals before they can make friends with something you don't want them to. Thus, antioxidants are basically your drinking buddy who makes sure you don't give that sketchy free radical guy at the bar your real name, or worse, your number.

There's still debate, of course, as to the real effects of antioxidants and if they're really as effective as the supplement and food industries want you to believe. Research is still ongoing, but for now, there's nothing wrong with seeking out the naturally-occuring antioxidants in fruits and vegetables.

And what about chamomile? Chamomile is a known anti-inflammatory, both inside and out. It calms upset stomachs and inflamed skin -- chamomile tea bags are a well-known remedy for reducing puffy eyes.

So what does it all mean for "Get Gorgeous" tea in reality? All the hypotheticals sure are great, but does it work? So far, it's too early for me to tell. But I did think up some benefits that aren't on the label. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, so if you're drinking tea all through the day, you won't be tossing and turning all night. In addition, chamomile helps to relax you, so with the combination of relaxing chamomile and caffeine-free rooibos, you should be able to breathe a little easier and sleep better, which is always good for your body.

While I'm a little apprehensive about the label's recommendation of drinking three to four cups of "Get Gorgeous" tea every day (at 36 bags a tin, that's anywhere from 9 to 12 days' worth of tea), I do recognize that staying hydrated, and staying away from sugary sodas, is also good for your skin.

However, it is indeed tasty, which is probably the most important consideration of all. Because, really, what's the point of drinking tea to "get gorgeous" if you can't bear the taste?

image from republicoftea.com

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