Drinking two cups of Oolong tea per day can help you burn fat while you are sleeping, by boosting your night time metabolism, according to researchers.
The speciality brew is only partially oxidised – providing specific health benefits including burning fat, according to University of Tsukuba researchers in Japan.
A group of healthy volunteers were asked to drink either oolong tea, pure caffeine or a placebo over a two week period to study how it changed the breakdown of fat.
Both oolong tea and pure caffeine increased fat breakdown by about 20 per cent compared with a placebo but oolong continued to work even as volunteers slept.
Senior author Professor Kumpei Tokuyama said oolong contains caffeine, which impacts energy metabolism by increasing our heart rate – it also increases the breakdown of fat independent of the effects of the caffeine.
Tokuyama believes drinking oolong tea regularly – a couple of cups per day – will combat the over indulgences of the festive season.
Losing weight while you sleep may sound too good to be true – but drinking oolong tea might help you do just that, he said.
‘The stimulatory effects of oolong tea on fat breakdown during sleep could have real clinical relevance for controlling body weight,’ explained Tokuyama.
Metabolism slows down when people are in bed and stationary but it never stops completely – even when in the land of nod.
Caffeine is known to inhibit sleep – which in turn can impact metabolism – but there was no noticeable difference in sleep patterns when people drank oolong tea.
This shows the beverage is unlikely to prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, said Tokuyama.
All tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. But the degree of oxidation, a chemical reaction that turns tea leaves black, defines its specific variety.
For example, green tea is unoxidised and mild in flavour, while the distinctive colour of black tea comes from complete oxidation.
Oolong lies somewhere in between – displaying characteristics of both green and black tea. Whilst green tea is lauded for health benefits – the benefits of oolong remain unknown.
It has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine – yet only accounts for two per cent of overall tea consumption worldwide.
The study published in Nutrients also found neither oolong tea or the placebo treatment caused an increase in energy expenditure.
This indicates that the volunteers developed a tolerance to the stimulatory effects of caffeine, explained Tokuyama.
‘However, we need to determine whether the effects we observed in the two week study translate into actual body fat loss over a prolonged period.
‘In addition, we want to trial a decaffeinated oolong tea to better distinguish the effects of caffeine from other components of tea, which will help us understand exactly how oolong helps with fat breakdown.’
Oolong tea is believed to contain more antioxidants than green tea – increasing metabolism and preventing the spread of fat cells to maintain weight loss.
Previous research has found drinking it could burn up to 3.4 per cent more total calories every day.
It has also been shown to keep bones strong. Elderly people who drink oolong tea are said to have a 64 per cent lower risk of brain function decline.
It also lowers heart disease risk by 61 per cent – and may even reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to the findings of an unrelated study.
Interest in the health benefits of tea has grown dramatically in recent years. All varieties have been shown to help stave off heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Experts say plant chemicals called flavonoids are the beverage’s main health giving ingredient.
The findings have been published int he journal Nutrients.