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Is Chinese Sweet Leaf Tea Good for Weight Loss?

Being shredded, athletic and toned takes more than just a few sessions in the gym. It takes dedication, motivation and strict planning of your nutrition too.

You’re after something natural, fresh and above all, something that will help you melt away that unwanted fat. Is Chinese sweet leaf tea the answer?

How does this infused tea stack up against other fat burning nutrients?

In this article we take a look at everything you need to know about this drink and whether or not it should be included in your diet.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is Chinese sweet leaf tea?
  • What are the reported health benefits?
  • Can Chinese sweet tea help you lose weight?
  • Is there a better option?

What is Chinese Sweet Tea?

As the name suggests, Chinese sweet tea is a herbal brew tea used traditionally in China and other parts of East Asia.

It is made from the leaves of Chinese blackberries that are obtained from the Rubus suavissimus – a small, fruit-bearing plant.

The leaves contain a natural, bioactive sweetener called rubusoside [1], a glycoside that is intensely sweet – over 100 times sweeter than sucrose. 

For that reason, rubusoside is also used as a natural sweetener in the food industry. However, it’s worth noting that as nice as that sounds, it also has a bitter after taste.

Chinese sweet leaf tea also contains four other bioactive constituents:

  • Gallic acid
  • Rutin
  • Ellagic acid
  • Steviol monoside

Traditional medicine

The leaves of the tea, when brewed, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. The tea itself is called Tien-Cha (sweet tea).

It has been used medicinally to treat kidney health, fever, high blood pressure, vascular disease and a range of different allergies such as rhinitis [2].

Some studies have also reported an anti-inflammatory effect that may help to reduce metabolic disease. Others though have shown that although the tea has been used as a home remedy for allergies, there’s no evidence to suggest it actually works, even with a high dose of 400 mg daily for 4-weeks [3].


Chinese sweet leaf tea on a black board

Key Point: Chinese sweet leaf tea contains a glycoside called rubusoside; a natural sweetener that is over 100 times more powerful than sucrose.


Can Chinese Sweet Tea Boost Weight Loss?

It’s worth kicking this section off by noting that there aren’t any human trials to draw upon when it comes to Chinese sweet tea and weight loss. It’s a very understudied drink.

There’s one rat study and one in vitro study – basically testing cells in a test tube.

Study #1:

In the rat study [4], some of the animals were given the equivalent of 3% of their diet from a rubus extract. They were then fed either a low-fat or high-fat diet over a 9-week period.

The rats that had sweet leaf extract added to their diet reduced weight gain by 22%. To be clear, this doesn’t mean they lost weight – it means that Chinese sweet tea slowed down the amount of weight gain seen in the group of rats.

But the tea extract did improve their blood sugar levels, vascular health and cholesterol levels.

Study #2:

In the in vitro study [5], researchers tested the effects of the rubus leaves on isolated fat cells. They added an extract of the tea and found that it suppressed the growth of adipocytes (fat cells).

But whilst this is an interesting observation, it by no means suggests that the findings can be transferred to living human tissue.

So what does this mean for you?

At present there’s just no real evidence that Chinese sweet leaf tea will help you lose weight.

On the strength of one test tube study and one semi-promising animal study it’s currently difficult to say that rubus supplements will help you lose weight.

Chinese sweet leaf tea certainly isn’t a miracle supplement. It didn’t promote weight loss, it just slowed down the rate at which weight gain occurred. It was a similar result from the in vitro study as well.


Fit woman running through the woods to lose weight and shred fat

Key Point: There is no evidence that Chinese sweet leaf tea can help you lose weight or improve your body composition.


Summary

Chinese sweet leaf tea is a traditional drink, famed for its sweet taste. It has been used as a home remedy for hundreds of years.

Currently, there is no evidence that it helps you lose weight though, other than an animal study and very early stage test tube research.

We suggest that until more research is made available, you focus your attention on adding nutrients to your diet that have been shown to directly increase fat oxidation and boost metabolism.


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References

  1. Tao, G et al. Enzymatic preparation of a natural sweetener rubusoside from specific hydrolysis of stevioside with β-galactosidase from Aspergillus sp. J Molec Catal B: Enzymatic. 2012; 82: 12-17
  2. Huang, P et al Complex Utilization of Rubus suavissimus S. Lee. Guangxi Chem. Industry. 2002, 31, 24-25
  3. Yonekura, S et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of ten-cha (Rubus suavissimus) on house dust mite allergic rhinitis. Auris Nasus Larynx. 2011; 38(5): 600-7
  4. Koh, GY et al. Improvement of obesity phenotype by Chinese sweet leaf tea (Rubus suavissimus) components in high-fat diet-induced obese rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2011; 59(1): 98-104
  5. Ezure, T et al. Rubus suavissimus S. Lee extract increases early adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. J Nat Med. 2011; 65(2): 247-53


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