Mamaki tea is a little-known beverage made from the pipturus albidus plant. This plant is native to Hawaii, and the tea infusion is a common feature on the island, but outside of Hawaii it’s relatively unknown.
Health Benefits of Mamaki Tea
We love to discover new teas here on Shelgo Tea. There are few things more exciting than discovering a new herb that is relatively unknown to the world but is hugely popular in a specific country or region.
This passion began with sideritis scardica, a tea that is quickly being recognised as one of the healthiest in the world but, for hundreds of years, was more or less localised to Greece and the Balkans.
Not all of these teas are as healthy as proponents claim, and we make it our goal to sort the wheat from the chaff and discover the genuine health benefits and the nonsense spouted to sell more product. It’s a process that we’ve undertaken with everything from saffron tea to globe amaranth and more, and it’s one we’ll try with mamaki tea, as well.
The problem, as you shall discover, is that the lines between “genuine” and “mumbo jumbo” aren’t very clear with this tea, as there hasn’t been a great deal of peer-reviewed research completed.
1. Cancer-Fighting Compounds
Before we begin, we should note that there is no proof that mamaki tea can cure or prevent cancer. There are certainly a lot of claims out there to the contrary, and these tend to spread like wildfire whenever they concern a lesser-known herb like this (it is a similar story with soursop tea) but there have been no positive human trials or studies performed.
In fact, there isn’t even a great deal of evidence to suggest that it can kill cancer in the lab or in animal subjects. However, mamaki tea is an antioxidant powerhouse, and when you consider that antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, this lends some credibility to those claims.
Mamaki tea contains catechins, a compound said to be responsible for many of the benefits provided by green tea, red wine, and even dark chocolate. Green tea is more potent and has other healthy compounds, so it wouldn’t be accurate to suggest that mamaki tea was just as healthy, but the occasional cup could certainly be a useful addition to a balanced diet.
2. It Could Help with Digestion
Mamaki contains compounds that produce an anti-inflammatory effect, and this could soothe digestive issues. There are a lot of anecdotal reports from consumers who have reportedly used it to alleviate the symptoms of IBS and other digestive disorders, and while there isn’t a great deal of evidence to back up these claims, it is a fair assumption based on its chemical composition.
One of those compounds is chlorgenic acid, which is said to be responsible for the digestive soothing properties of many roots and spices, including burdock, which we have discussed elsewhere on the Shelgo Tea website.
3. It’s a Caffeine-Free Alternative
As healthy as green tea is, and it really is very good for you, it also contains caffeine. We have discussed this common stimulant at length and noted how it can be dangerous when consumed in large quantities (in the form of pills and energy drinks) but how it can also provide a number of benefits and is safe in moderation. Still, there are people who are very sensitive to caffeine, as well as those who want to avoid it for health reasons, and in such cases, green tea is just not a good option.
Mamaki tea might be, though. Like all of the herbal teas we stock here at Shelgo Tea, it is caffeine free and is also free of any other stimulant. Some fans of this tea claim it gives them a natural energy boost, and while there have been no studies suggesting any such effects, it could certainly be possible based on its high antioxidant content.
The “stimulating” effect is going to be very minimal if it does exist, and it’s highly unlikely that this will increase energy or focus to the level that caffeine can, but it might do something noteworthy for some people, even if it is largely the result of the placebo effect.
Other Benefits of Mamaki Tea
Now for the anecdotal claims, and there are a lot of these surrounding mamaki tea. It has apparently been used as part of Hawaiian traditional medicines for hundreds of years, and some claim it can help with everything from prostate problems to high blood pressure, diabetes, and bladder disorders.
We’re not suggesting these claims are nonsense, but that they are unfounded, and until that changes and stacks of peer-reviewed studies suggest otherwise, we recommend taking these claims with a pinch of salt.
This is a generally safe tea that shouldn’t cause any serious issues. However, we wouldn’t recommend consuming it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you are on any medication or have any preexisting health conditions. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you’re dealing with a plant whose history of use is rooted in traditional medicine and not modern science.
Where to Buy Mamaki Tea
You will be hard-pressed to find this tea anywhere in the United Kingdom, but there are a few online retailers that stock it. We’re not one of those, but if you’re looking for a tea that can do all that mamaki tea can and more, take a look at our Greek dandelion and wild-picked nettle tea. Sideritis also ticks all of those boxes, of course, and there is no shortage of that here on Shelgo Tea.
How to Brew it
We wouldn’t recommend buying non-branded mamaki tea, not here in the United Kingdom anyway, as you cannot guarantee that what you’re getting is actually mamaki tea. If you’re unfamiliar with it and trying it for the first time, stick with reputable tea companies who have run the necessary checks to import and sell it safely.
There should be instructions on the tea packet, but generally you should use 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, leaving them to steep for 5 to 15 minutes. As with all teas, the amount you use and the length of time you steep it for can be changed depending on your taste, but to begin with, it’s best to start small just to assess tolerance and to increase gradually to a standard dose from there.
Mamaki tea, just like sideritis scardica, doesn’t become bitter if it is brewed for a few minutes too long.
It can be sweetened with honey or sugar. If you use a good, strong honey, you can add some additional health benefits to the brew.