The Tradition of Tea and Dementia

During a particularly windy evening in southern Louisiana, my husband and I visited with our adult children. My stepdaughter asked if we’d like some tea. She moved toward the cabinet and called out an overwhelming selection of tea: fennel, caramel, green, etc. My stepdaughter is in her mid-thirties. When I was her age, I recall sipping on wine more than tea.

Drinking tea has come into popularity again with the younger generation. All three of my stepdaughters enjoy holding a warm cup of tea in cold hands. Whereas coffee signifies a speeding up in our lives, tea signals a pause, helping us slow down while keeping our cognitive functioning intact.

Studies on Tea Consumption

Headlines regularly report the health benefits of drinking tea. According to research done by Edith Cowan University in November of 2022, studies showed tea may be even better for us than previously thought.

Within a group of 881 elderly women, researchers found the women were less likely to have a buildup of calcification in their arteries, which leads to cognitive decline, if they consumed more flavonoids in their diet.

Why are flavonoids important? Foods high in flavonoids, such as black tea and blueberries, are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and protect cells from damage which often leads to diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

In using black tea as one of the main components of flavonoids in the study, they found that regular tea drinkers who drink two to six cups of tea per day were 16-42% less likely to have extensive calcification in their arteries; drawing the conclusion that more tea drinking leads to less cognitive challenges.

Another study published on in 2022, reported similar results in a country well-known for its tea habits. Among a cohort of 337 participants, over the course of nine years, the UK Biobank found that drinking one to six cups of tea per day decreased the risk of developing dementia by 16%.

Other indicators showed that tea benefited middle-aged or male participants even more.  Overall, findings proved that drinking one extra cup of tea per day (within a three-cup per day maximum) results in a 6% less chance of developing dementia.

“In conclusion, moderate consumption of tea was significantly associated with a reduced risk of dementia,” the study shares.  This implies that modifying our tea consumption may help modify our dementia risks.

Tea as a Ritual

If you’ve watched The Crown, you know there’s a certain way Brits like to make their tea. The custom of making and serving tea is a ritual in many cultures, including those with British roots, such as India. It’s also plentiful in Asian cultures. For instance, in Japan, ritual tea drinking originated from Zen monks who drank tea to keep awake during long sessions of meditation. It later became an active part of the Zen ritual to honor their patriarch, Bodhidharma. While Americans are not all practitioners of meditation, the need to slow down is imperative, and tea fits the bill for setting the pace for self-care.

What does this pause allow us to do? To create a sense of mindfulness. To clear our heads of the detritus of our lives and focus on the present moment, whether it be a visit from the royal family or the latest bestseller.

Sometimes, it is the flavors, scents of lavender, rosehips, orange zest or almond, which settle into our consciousness and create this state of calm. Sometimes, it is the process of boiling, brewing, steeping and stirring, causing us to break away from our fast-paced rhythms.

Most of us in the United States experience some kind of winter, whether it’s snow, rain, wind, or simply lower temperatures. While my husband and I often say there’s nowhere safe to travel in the U.S. during wintertime because there’s always a risk of unseasonably cold temperatures, we do know wherever we are, a steaming mug of tea can overcome the chill.

Annette Januzzi Wick is a writer, speaker and author of I’ll Have Some of Yours, a journey of cookies and caregiving. (Three Arch Press). A frequent contributor to, her work has appeared in Cincinnati Magazine,, Still Point Arts, 3rd Act Magazine, Ovunque Siamo, Belt Magazine, Creative Nonfiction and Italian Americana (forthcoming). Visit to learn more.