Behold the power of green tea

Jeff · February 8, 2005 at 11:58 am · Filed Under General baseball, Off-topic ranting 

Good news for non-steroid users: green tea extract boosts athletic performance, for endurance exercise anyway. A new study shows an 8-24 percent increase in swimming time-to-exhaustion in mice being fed the extract.

“Now that even baseball players may need to seek new, more natural performance aids,” the story asks, “will Japanese green tea sets become standard in dugouts and athletic training tables around the world?”

Humans of around 165 pounds would have to drink four cups a day to get the same effect. I’m off to make cup number one and ponder whether Shigetoshi Hasegawa switched to Earl Grey last year.


41 Responses to “Behold the power of green tea”

  1. msb on February 8th, 2005 12:40 pm

    hmmmmm. Joe Torre has been a green tea drinker since ’99….

  2. Jim Thomsen on February 8th, 2005 12:53 pm

    The shocking new revelation from Jose Canseco’s book: He and Mark McGwire injected each other with anabolic Lapsang Souchong before games.

  3. Ed Prescott on February 8th, 2005 1:02 pm

    Green tea is well-known to have a wide variety of other health benefits, too. Here is one link , there are a great many more.

    Switching from coffee to green tea has to be one of the very best health decisions you can make, and it’s a cake-and-eat-it-too scenario, as you don’t have to give up caffeine, either.

  4. Dave on February 8th, 2005 1:15 pm

    Switching from coffee to green tea has to be one of the very best health decisions you can make…

    Minus that whole “tastes like crap” thing, anyways.

  5. Jeff Nye on February 8th, 2005 1:21 pm


    I just recently quit caffeine cold-turkey. I’m liking it so far but I kinda miss the pick-me-up.

    Do you still get the same good effects from decaf green tea? I’d like the endurance boosting a lot since I do martial arts, and the rest of the benefits would be good too.

    And Dave…it’s definitely an acquired taste. You could try genmaicha, which adds roasted rice to the mix and softens the flavor a bit.

  6. Jeff on February 8th, 2005 1:21 pm

    Great. I start a flamewar my first week in a thread about green tea.

    [Besides, Dave, you can’t get coffee that tastes good on the east coast, anyway!]

  7. Jeff on February 8th, 2005 1:22 pm

    Oh, and Jeff N., you do get the same health benefits from decaf green tea. The study controlled for caffeine’s health effects.

  8. Jim Thomsen on February 8th, 2005 1:23 pm

    For the sake of science, and entertainment, I think I’ll steep a bag of lawn trimmings in hot water and see how it tastes ….

  9. Dash on February 8th, 2005 1:29 pm

    I for one never appreciated the fact that mice were such avid long distance swimmers. Of course, this also begs the question, what is long distance to a mouse?

  10. Dave on February 8th, 2005 1:36 pm

    Oh, no worries, I’m not a coffee guy either. I just drink Pepsi like Derek drinks IPA.

  11. Jim Thomsen on February 8th, 2005 1:42 pm

    On the eighth day, God created Dr Pepper. And it was good.

    I’d rather live 60 years and enjoy what I enjoy than live 90 in a state of ascetic deprival.

  12. Jeff Sullivan on February 8th, 2005 1:47 pm

    How can you drink Pepsi when Select cola is readily available for half the price?

    In today’s world of Marginal Wins and VORP/$1m, you’re not really practicing what you preach.

  13. Jeff on February 8th, 2005 1:50 pm

    See, the thing is, green tea does taste good. Some people don’t like it because either a) they steep it too long, so it gets bitter, or b) they’ve only had supercheap stuff.

    Sure, there are folks that just flat don’t like any tea, but you wouldn’t assume you disliked all beer just because Coors Light tastes like distilled rain gutter water.

    Plus, can cola make mice swim longer? I rest my case.

  14. Jim Thomsen on February 8th, 2005 1:51 pm

    Value Over Replacement Pop? I think one would have to develop metrics to measure comparative rates of tooth decay, stomach-lining perforation and USDA-allowed vermin-feces content before integer values could be assigned.

    Do Pepsi and Select colas dissolve tenpenny nails at the same rate?

  15. Xteve X on February 8th, 2005 1:51 pm

    #12 – Post of the day. Absolutely hilarious.

    For the record, I like green tea. I gave up coffee for a short time whilst living in Chicago. Tea was good but it didn’t have the same jittery sledgehammer effect, especially in the morning.

  16. Jeff Nye on February 8th, 2005 1:53 pm

    The Other Jeff (tee hee):

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been an avid green tea fan for a while but dropped it when I dropped the rest of the caffeine. I’ll hit Uwajimaya this weekend and rectify that.

    And yeah, getting quality green tea and preparing it properly is key to it not tasting foul. I’m also a big fan of genmaicha. People who don’t like ‘regular’ green tea should give it a chance.

  17. Jamie on February 8th, 2005 1:58 pm

    I used to do a little research psychology, and I’m familiar with studies similar to this one. They say that green tea helps rats swim longer until they’re exhausted, but I don’t think they mentioned that to measure when the rat gets exhausted they wait until the rat STOPS SWIMMING AND DROWNS.

  18. Ed on February 8th, 2005 2:02 pm

    Four cups of green tea per day – that’s just two bottles of Cricket Cola! (Which oddly enough, tastes like cola with green tea in it.)

    Look out, Coke and Pepsi – I see a new soda on ice in MLB dugouts…

  19. bilbo on February 8th, 2005 2:07 pm

    Oh my God, the poor rats! How could they? Oh, wait a minute, THEY’RE RATS!

    When do pitchers and catchers report again?

  20. Evan on February 8th, 2005 2:07 pm

    Mice swim really well in cola. The bubbles cling to their fur and make them more buoyant.

    For the record though, Pepsi hardly tastes like cola; they’ve never used as much natural kola flavour as Coca-Cola does. And Select is too fruity – I think they use high-fructose corn syrup rather than the straight glucose you find in the mass market stuff.

    Green tea is a thermogenic agent, just like ephedrine. It was only a matter of time before athletes figured that out. I know strength athletes who’ve been using it for some time (they used to use ephedrine – they’re very annoyed about the ban).

    I’m currently enjoying a chai tea made with soy milk.

  21. Graham on February 8th, 2005 2:28 pm

    I like a ground up Green & Blacks organic chocolate bar in boiling milk, myself. I’m not entirely certain on the health benefits of really good hot chocolate though… maybe if mice had enough chocolate, they’d get fatter and thus less dense and more buoyant?

  22. Jeff Sullivan on February 8th, 2005 2:37 pm

    I’ve had a few green tea Sobes today. Does that count?

    This is like the uber-thread for hippies.

  23. Deanna on February 8th, 2005 2:48 pm

    You could just eat four bowls of green tea ice cream.

    Wait, that’d probably have the *opposite* effect.

  24. Jim Thomsen on February 8th, 2005 2:54 pm

    Jose Canseco’s OTHER shocking revelation from his upcoming book: His performance in the 1990s experienced a rapid decline when his dealer confused “China Black” with “China White” ….

  25. Dave in Palo Alto on February 8th, 2005 3:17 pm

    This is good news, for swimming mice anyways. But as any cancer researcher can tell you, it’s a lot easier to cure mouse cancer than human cancer. Mice ain’t folks. When Lenny Krayzelberg backstrokes for another few hours after a green tea binge, we can all perk up.

  26. PositivePaul on February 8th, 2005 3:24 pm

    #15, I vote for Jim Thomsen’s grass clippings comment in #8 myself…

    Personally, I’m slanted towards concentrated herbal extract droppers. That way you can have the pleasure without the pain, generally. It’s a whole lot easier for me to plug my nose, tilt my head back and drip herbal extracts past my uvula than to torture myself by drinking an 8 oz. glass of the non-concentrated equivalent. Even mixing stuff with orange juice can be painful.

    O the imagery of herbal extract shots chased with Immonium A/D capsules…

    –grabs can of Dr. Pepper and says “Cheers” to Mr. Thomsen–

  27. PositivePaul on February 8th, 2005 3:31 pm

    Hmm, I know a cancer researcher named Dave in Palo Alto that also happens to be a huge M’s fan…

    I’ve always been curious how they translate those figures into human-relevant terms. I would’ve thought that to reap the benefits, you’d have to drink the equivalent of a whole box of herbal tea in a day. Much less tolerable in my book…

  28. J on February 8th, 2005 4:41 pm

    Forget green tea, man, chai’s where it’s at. Truck drivers in India go for hundreds of miles on chai alone. Of course, they also overload it with milk and sugar, but the point remains. Wonder how the other teas compare…

    Interesting stuff, Jeff.

  29. paul mocker on February 8th, 2005 4:44 pm

    But the bigger question still remains: Does sexual performance the night before a game boost athletic performance?

  30. Evan on February 8th, 2005 5:00 pm

    Chai is supposed to be steeped in milk (instead of water like most tea). If you ever see chai tea without milk in it, it isn’t chai tea.

  31. Jim Thomsen on February 8th, 2005 5:01 pm

    #29 — That brings us to Jose Canseco’s THIRD shocking revelation from his forthcoming book, regarding other clubhouse bathroom-stall escapades. (“Hey, Skip … do you think I need a nickname? I think I need a nickname. All the great ones have nicknames … Catfish, Oil Can ….”)

  32. Jeff in Fremont on February 8th, 2005 5:37 pm

    Green tea rocks. I drink 4-5 cups a day, and I can’t say I feel worse for it.

    I also wanted to brag that I walked into Finish Line at Pacific Place today, and found a $100 Ichiro jersey on clearance for $39.99. So nyah.

  33. Chickenhawk on February 8th, 2005 5:56 pm

    Is the entire planet addicted to caffeine?! We all know that Dale Murphy did it without the juice. How about a cup of Postum?, or some Pero?
    And if you feel you still need the rush, grab a clutchful of Pixie Stix! That caffeine is lodging nicely in your spine – which can’t be a good thing.

    …of course, his stats did tail off fast, didn’t they? …But he can wake up in the morning and take a pee, a shower, brush his teeth, head off to work, then work, eat lunch, work some more, come home, eat dinner, tuck his kids in bed, do a crossword puzzle, then fall asleep. ALL WITHOUT CAFFEINE!
    How much “stamina” or “extra endurance” do we really need?

    (Soapbox finished.)

  34. isaac_spaceman on February 8th, 2005 6:53 pm

    Damn, it’s been a long winter. When do pitchers and catchers report again?

  35. Steve on February 8th, 2005 7:52 pm

    #20: Mice swim really well in cola. The bubbles cling to their fur and make them more buoyant.
    It doesn’t quite work that way. The bubbles decrease the bulk density of the liquid, causing the rats to sink faster. That confounds the experimental design, because now you have to separate the stimulant effects of the caffiene from the fear stimulation that occurs when the rat sinks faster than it’s expecting to.

  36. IceX on February 8th, 2005 10:22 pm

    Green tea rules. But milk disrupts most of the health benefits of it, so don’t drink them together or in proximity of the other. So, usually, I have tea in the morning and milk at night.

    There have also been studies that green tea caffeine acts differently than harder coffee and cola caffeines, making it less wake upping and stuff like that. Green tea is also good after raw foods (such as sushi, better combined with the gari ginger) and other foods that have food poisoning hazards, as the chemicals in green tea have the strength to neutralize food poisoning bacteria, like e-coli. (IIRC) Green teas also help out diets.

    Traditional teas are usually based on the same plant, camilla sinensis, regardless of the type. It’s simply a matter of how much it’s steamed and allowed to ferment. Green tea is only steamed and dried. Oolong tea is classified as a brown tea that has mild-fermentation. Black teas, such as Earl Gray, are generally fermented the most. The health benefits of tea have a tendency to decline as fermentation increases (some studies show that black teas promote colon cancer).

    Regardless of what I just said, I just wish there were bottled green teas without any corn syrup, sugar, ginseng and all that crud they shove in in the states. The point of green tea is to get healthy, not fat. I want it straight, like they have here in Japan.

  37. jason on February 9th, 2005 6:37 am

    only +/- 170 hours until pitchers and catchers report!

  38. Evan on February 9th, 2005 9:49 am

    #35: It doesn’t quite work that way. The bubbles decrease the bulk density of the liquid, causing the rats to sink faster.

    Well, sure – opening up a gas pipeline across your harbour is a great way to sink enemy warships, but I was thinking about bubble accumulation. Let’s say you have a tall pint of Strongbow, and you drop a lemon seed it in. The seed sinks to the bottom, until enough bubbles accumulate on it to make it float. Voila – added buoyancy.

  39. Eli on February 9th, 2005 7:46 pm

    #38: The rat and the lemon seed might end up on different sides of a dividing line in surface-area-to-volume ratio. The bubbles have a certain maximum size, so the most buoyancy you can gain is a full coating at that thickness. On the other hand, the buoyancy you’d lose from the decreased density of the liquid is proportional to how much you’re displacing, i.e. your volume.

    Uh. How about that Dan Wilson.

  40. Rusty on February 10th, 2005 3:52 pm

    Speaking of steroids… many articles and columns now use a standard caveat “there hasn’t been any definitive study of whether steroids actually improve performance.”

    Can’t someone do a study? It seems like a rather easy thing to do. Take a bunch of average joe’s (accountants, construction guys, etc.) and train them to hit fast pitch baseball for a year or two. Then put some of them on a placebo and the rest on steroids for a year. Track their performance and bingo! you have results.

  41. Ed on February 11th, 2005 1:23 pm

    “Can’t someone do a study? It seems like a rather easy thing to do.”

    Actually, I think this is a case of sportswriters being dumbasses – there have of course been many studies, the consensus being that steroids are a wild card at best. One man’s Hulk Hogan physique is another man’s bitch teats.

    What I find appalling about the “steroid scandal” coverage is that the sports media seems to believe the only way to get big and powerful is to use steroids.