WHO advises Kazakhs against drinking tea22 october 2014, 19:51
Too much tea is not healthy, especially if it accompanies meat-based meals. Health experts believe that drinking tea can cause iron deficiency. Studies have shown that tea, especially black tea decreases the absorption of iron by almost 64%, and this may lead to iron-deficiency anaemia.
Given such rates, doctors recommend drinking tea at least one hour before or after meals, eat more fish, poultry and meat, and eat more food that contains a lot of Vitamin C, since the latter increases absorption of iron.
Kazakhstani doctors share the view of their foreign colleagues. They claim that the habit of drinking tea during meals that is so widespread in Kazakhstan is one of the reasons behind the high rates of anaemia in the country. Almost 40% of Kazakh women and children have iron deficiency. The situation with men is slightly better, but the rate still stands at 23%.
“There are compounds in tea that are called tannins. There are also phytates. Tannins can combine with iron and by doing so they reduces its availability for absorption. Therefore, it is recommended to drink tea before or after the meal,” Vice-President of the Kazakh Academy of Nutrition Shamil Tazhibayev said.
The habit of drinking tea, mostly back tea, during meals is so well-rooted and well-loved in Kazakhstan that it is not easy for Kazakhstanis to give it up.
“We tend to drink tea with meat. I cannot imagine eating meat without tea. It is probably more of a tradition than a habit,” Almaty resident Feruza Tileumuratova shared.
When asked why they drink tea, many people said: “Because that's what we always do. We were taught so since childhood”, “Our organism, probably, requires tea”, “Well, it is a centuries-old tradition”, “Tea! Please! Life kills, and sugar is called white death”.
Kazakhstan was ranked 10th in the list of countries by annual per capita consumption of tea in 2009. And Kazakhstan still spends millions to import it. In 2009 it spent $90 million to import 25,800 tons, and in 2013 Kazakhstan imported 32,000 tons of tea totally worth $147 million.
This year might beat even that record. In the first quarter of 2014, Kazakhstanis consumed 10,000 tons of tea worth nearly $43 million.
Writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina