The Starbucks I go to is now selling magic beans. Well, matcha tea lattes actually, which are like magic beans in the sense that they possess special powers:
Detox the body
High in antioxidants
Helps the immune system
I was particularly intrigued at the last claim. This latte actually “burns calories”.
Which is strange, because a venti serving of said magic tea latte — sorry, matcha tea latte — contains 316 calories all on its own, making it the most calorie-laden tea drink on the menu:
This is pretty much a similar number of calories as in one of those super-sized chocolate chip cookies they sell.
Hmm. Do the chocolate cookies also “burn” calories?
Obviously this is all ridiculous. When you drink a venti matcha tea latte, you consume calories, you don’t burn them. You consume as many calories as you would if you ate a chocolate biscuit.
Physical activity burns calories. Some other things (like stress) can also burn calories, but not always in a good way.
You can’t burn calories by consuming them.
But I guess anything that claims to perform “detox” is bound to be bunkum.
Let’s get the controversy out of the way first. In the interests of full disclosure, I need to reveal an interest. I consume coffee. There. I’ve said it. Now you may think there is nothing particularly strange about that. After all, some 80% of the world’s population consume caffeinated products every single day. And while coffee has many questionable effects on health, it is generally regarded as an uncontroversial beverage — certainly, in terms of public debate, it is far removed from hard liquor, tobacco, or Class A drugs. However, according to recent reports, we might have to change our views a little. In fact, according to the media, science has now shown the world that coffee has in fact the potential to interfere with mental states in very dramatic ways. Allegedly, the research shows that consuming large amounts of coffee makes you hear voices. Yes, you heard that correctly. Coffee is hallucinogenic! Wow, man. Heavy…
But wait! Does this mean that coffee should be banned or at least controlled? After all, other hallucinogens (such as LSD or ketamine) are proscribed largely because of their mind-altering properties. Stopping short of all-out prohibition, maybe we should just prevent coffee-drinkers from driving or from operating heavy machinery? How about teachers, doctors, and nurses? Shouldn’t they be barred from consuming coffee too? What if they start hearing voices while looking after children or treating patients? Don’t the powers-that-be get it?! The study showed that coffee is an HALLUCINOGEN for goodness sake!!! Except, well, it didn’t. Not really. Continue reading “Wake up and smell the…woahhh!”
Consider this slightly cumbersome headline in the last Saturday’s Daily Mail, located in the newspaper’s Health section: “Take time for tea and give your brain a lift as well as reduce tiredness”. The story refers to a new research paper published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience. Based on the research, the Daily Mail reports that having a cup of tea “could help you solve the crossword faster” and “can improve brain power and increase alertness”. According to the Mail, tea also “reduced tiredness among the volunteers.” As with many such stories, the original research is far more complex than can be captured by a 300-word newspaper story. Nonetheless, we might expect professional newspaper journalists to consider the subject just a little bit more rigorously than is done here. Continue reading “The science of tea: News-reporting as PR”