Commercial Asian Herbal Cooling or Heat-Clearing Tea Products in Singapore: An Analysis of Compositions and Claims
Keywords:Herbal cooling tea, traditional Chinese medicine, oxidative balance, anti-inflammation, chrysanthemum, Lonicera japonica
AbstractTraditionally, cooling teas are herbal preparations brewed from cooling herbs. This study examined information on delivery form, selling platform, pricing, compositions (herbal and non-herbal), and claims (health and non-health) of 65 commercial cooling teas in Singapore and whether their herbal compositions were related to their health claims. The required information was extracted from the product labels. The 65 studied products were 100% plant-based and manufactured in Asian countries. Most retailed in teabag form (44.6%). While none of the cooling tea products studied contained added colourings, flavourings or preservatives, sweeteners were added to 40%; sugar was the most prevalent sweetener (21.5%). Herbal cooling tea is traditionally consumed to prevent or alleviate flu or cold symptoms and may explain why immunity and respiratory health boosting benefits were among the common health claims stated on commercial cooling tea products. The top three health claim domains were immunity (42%), digestive (40%), and respiratory (38%). Non-health claims were stated on the labels of 13.9% of the surveyed products. Preservative-free (9.2%), caffeine-free (7.7%), and artificial colouring-free (4.6%) were the more prevalent non-health claims. Of the 99 herbs used in Asian cooling teas, the three most prevalent were Flos Chrysanthemum morifolium (50.8%), Flos Lonicera japonica (30.8%) and Prunella vulgaris (20.0%). These three herbs are reputed to contribute to immune, digestive and respiratory health, potentially due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The concept of cooling in Traditional Chinese Medicine may relate to the restoration of oxidative balance and alleviation of inflammation.