You gotta love Mother Nature. Only she could come up with a plant – Cocoa Tea (Camellia Ptilophylla Chang) that…
- Prevents diet-induced obesity,
- Has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants,
- Shows promise as a treatment for liver cancer,
- Lowers levels of fat in your blood,
- Is a useful chemotherapeutic agent against prostate cancer,
- Is caffeine free, and
- Tastes of vanillin and jasmine
What is Cocoa Tea – aka Camellia Ptilophylla Chang?
Camellia Ptilophylla was discovered in 1981, growing wild in southern China. Since then, cocoa tea has been domesticated and rigorously studied by Prof. Chuang-xing Ye, of China’s Sun Yat-Sen University.
Chemically, Camellia ptilophylla is different than the tea you buy (Camellia sinensis) at your local supermarket, with three major differences.
- Camellia Ptilophylla aka Cocoa tea is naturally caffeine-free,
- Cocoa tea has high levels of the alkaloid theobromine,
- Cocoa tea is high in the catechin gallocatechin gallate (GCG) while regular tea is high in the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG),
- Cocoa tea has high levels of the alkaloid theobromine.
It is these high levels of theobromine which have resulted in Camellia Ptilophylla being given the nickname of cocoa tea, as cocoa is the world’s most popular source of theobromine.
Different Types of Cocoa Tea
Like traditional tea (Camellia sinensis), cocoa tea is processed using different production methods resulting in white, green, black and oolong versions. The different methods of fermentation results in different flavors and different chemical compositions.
For example, as Camellia ptilophylla is fermented and moves from a green tea to an oolong tea and finally to a black tea…
- Polyphenols are reduced – 38.58%, 30.41% and 23.6%,
- Catechins are reduced – 23.51%, 17.68% and 4.02%,
- Theaflavins are increased – 0.11%, 0.11% and 0.17%,
- Thearubigins are increased – 4.29%, 5.00% and 9.71%,
- Theabrownins are increased – 2.75%, 4.90% and 13.52% ),
- along with increases in water-soluble carbohydrates, flavonoid glycoside and gallic acid.
Interestingly, levels of theobromine (3.52%, 3.43% and 3.71%) did not change with fermentation.
How should you prepare Cocoa Tea?
According to Prof. Chuang-xing Ye, to get the full benefits of cocoa tea, an infusion of Camellia ptilophylla tea leaves (g) with 50 times boiling water (ml) for 3 min is recommended.
Why should you drink Cocoa Tea?
Even though the research looking into the health benefits of Cocoa Tea has just begun, it’s looking like a legitimate superfood. Here are four studies which highlight the potential awesomeness of cocoa tea as a health food.
After testing a water extract of white cocoa tea (WCTE) against human prostate cancer (PCa) in vitro and in vivo, researchers found that oral administration of WCTE (0.1 and 0.2%, wt/vol) to athymic nude mice resulted in greater than 50% inhibition of tumor growth. Based upon these findings, the researchers concluded that WCTE can be a useful chemotherapeutic agent against human PCa….keeping in mind that the science around white cocoa tea is very new and it will be a long time before Big Pharma develops a WCTE pill to combat prostate cancer.
A second study aimed to evaluate the anti-liver cancer activities of green cocoa tea infusion (GCTI) in vitro and in vivo using human hepatocarcinoma cell line HepG2 cells and nude mice xenograft model. Study results showed that GCTI significantly inhibited the proliferation of HepG2 cells in a dose-dependent manner inducing HepG2 cells to undergo apoptosis or programmed cell death . Which is a good thing when we’re talking liver cancer cells. The study authors concluded that tumor growth was effectively inhibited by GCTI in a dose-dependent manner as indicated by the decrease in tumor volume and tumor weight after 4 weeks of treatment and that GCTI may be a potential and promising agent of natural resource to treat liver cancer.
Another cocoa tea study indicated that a single oral administration of cocoa tea extract suppressed the normal increases in plasma triacylgycerol (TG) levels when mice were fed olive (23% inhibition) or lard oil (32% inhibition). Under the same condition, cocoa tea extract did not affect the level of plasma free fatty acid. Likewise, the extract reduced the lymphatic absorption of lipids. Also, cocoa tea extract and polyphenols isolated from cocoa tea inhibit pancreatic lipase. These findings suggest that cocoa tea has hypolipemic activity…which might be a good thing for a population with chronically elevated plasma triacylgycerol levels due to it’s addiction to deep fried chicken nuggets and hot dog stuffed pizzas.
To find out whether cocoa tea supplementation can improve high-fat diet-induced obesity, hyperlipidemia and hepatic steatosis, and whether such effects would be comparable to those of green tea extract, researchers studied six groups of mice that were fed with:
- normal chow (N),
- high-fat diet (21% butterfat + 0.15% cholesterol, wt/wt) (HF),
- a high-fat diet supplemented with 2% green tea extract (HFLG),
- a high-fat diet supplemented with 4% green tea extract (HFHG),
- a high-fat diet supplemented with 2% cocoa tea extract (HFLC) and,
- a high-fat diet supplemented with 4% cocoa tea extract (HFHC).
The researchers found that 2% and 4% dietary cocoa tea supplementation caused a dose-dependent decrease in
- body weight,
- fat pad mass,
- liver weight,
- total liver lipid,
- liver triglyceride and cholesterol and,
- plasma lipids (triglyceride and cholesterol).
These findings show that cocoa tea has a beneficial effect on high-fat diet-induced obesity, hepatomegaly, hepatic steatosis, and elevated plasma lipid levels in mice….comparable to green tea.
- As cocoa tea is a newly discovered substance, there is not a large body of research into it’s pros and cons,
- The research that has been completed looks very promising,
- There is a lot of upcoming research looking into the health benefits of cocoa tea,
- You can wait for the research, or you can try to get your hands on some cocoa tea and run your own small-scale private experiment,
- Unless you live in southern China, it’s pretty hard to get your hands on cocoa tea 😦
Stay tuned – I will update this post as new research is conducted.