Tava Tea is advertised as an “effortless solution” to weight loss—a means to lose weight quickly and easily without the pain and suffering. It’s the ultimate slimming tea, if you believe the hype.
And hyped it is; Tava Tea is promoted online by legions of affiliates (partners who earn commissions on referred sales), giving the impression Tava Tea is the undisputed leader in green tea slimming products. The reality, unfortunately, is that Tava Tea’s inflated cost supports a healthy referral commission, meaning a significant percentage of the product’s cost isn’t for the raw material itself, but to pay partners for referring visitors to the sales site.
It also calls the credibility of the majority of recommendations into question, given the obvious financial conflict of interest.
Regular commission rates for “hard” goods (goods that must be shipped, warehoused, and have an incremental cost) is on average, between 6-12%. When a retailer pays commission rates like this, they are “surrendering” a percentage of their profits to their partners in exchange for driving new business to their web site. At this rate, the customer does not “see” a difference in the cost of the product; it’s already built into the product’s profit margin. It’s just that the partner receives a percentage of the profit that would normally be retained by the retailer.
When much higher-levels of commissions are paid out, they artificially inflate the cost of the product and the customer pays much more for a product to support the referral fees. Normally, these products are not available offline, as this would create a discrepancy between the prices; higher for those sold online via referral fees, and lower in a retail outlet. This would virtually eliminate online sales, since offline, merchants don’t pay referral fees.
Hype aside, what exactly is Tava tea?
According to the retail web site, it’s a blend of green, oolong and puerh teas (also labeled as “pu-erh tea”).
What’s the difference between these variations of tea? They all come from the same plant; it’s the way the tea is processed that makes the difference. For example…
Green tea is not fermented, wu-long is partially fermented and puerh tea undergoes a fairly intensive microbial fermentation process. Green tea contains twice the amount of the polyphenol EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate) as oolong, but oolong is higher in polymerized polyphenols.
The advertising calls it a “heavyweight triple-blend” and presents “evidence” to show that it’s superior to other weight loss teas, especially those that are derived from a single tea source. There are the usual claims—weight loss doesn’t have to be hard, exercising and dieting are tedious, time-consuming and just plain suck. This statement from the retailer’s web site, pretty much sums it up…
“This is the most pleasant, PROVEN, easy to do weight loss and increased health ‘program’, you’ve ever seen.
Yes, you read that right. Not only will you lose weight quickly and effortlessly, but you’ll also experience a host of other health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels and improved digestion.”
But is it really? Looking at the sales copy, you might think so; it contains claims that appear to be supported by scientific studies.
In reality however, the Tava tea blend itself has never been studied—the claims are extrapolated from results of studies performed on either green or oolong teas. And these results are “cherry picked” and not presented in context.
What do I mean about “cherry picked?”
Well, for example, the sales copy mentions a study that showed oolong tea increased the metabolism by 10% compared to only 4% for green tea. And yes, there is a small study that does show oolong tea causes a 10% increase in metabolism. But they neglect to mention another oolong study that only showed a mere 3% increase.
The truth is, all the studies on both oolong and green teas are small and preliminary.
However, the consistent data means it’s not a stretch to suggest either teas boost the metabolism. Just how much they do, however, is up for some discussion.
For example, a more recent study of green tea’s critical constituents (caffeine and the catechin EGCG) on sedentary individuals showed an even more modest increase in metabolism—only 2%. This study also raised another issue…
“…higher short-term effects reported in the literature may reflect variations in green tea extracts, added caffeine, or synergies with physical activity.”
So the potency of the tea may also be critical to maximum effectiveness. And—GASP—you may need to exercise to see the greatest effects.
And what about presenting the studies in context?
Well, although there’s little doubt both green tea and oolong tea are extremely good supplements that do have an impact on weight loss and overall general health none of the weight loss claims on the Tava tea site (including the one made in the video; that you can lose 4 lbs a week) are supported by any of the existing evidence.
What about Puerh tea?
To my knowledge, all the relevant studies have been performed on either green or oolong teas. I was unable to find any relevant Puerh tea material in the Pubmed database, for example. Additionally, HPLC analysis has shown Puerh tea does not contain any of polyphenol EGCG. Since studies suggest it’s the combination of this critical compound (in conjunction with caffeine) that’s largely responsible for both oolong and green tea’s metabolism-boosting effects, it’s difficult to imagine that this tea provides any additional value to the formula.
And I almost choked on my coffee when I read on the Tava Tea sales page that Puerh tea “helps invigorate the spleen.” I’d love to see the science that supports that statement!
For example, let’s assume that drinking a high quality tea raises the metabolism 4% (it’s the number that seems to come up most consistently).
Well, if you’re a 140 lbs. woman whose caloric requirements are 1500 calories per day, a 4% boost in metabolism equates to 60 calories. If you’re a 185 lbs. guy whose caloric requirements are 2500 calories per day, a 4% increase equates to 100 calories.
A single pound of fat equates to approximately 3500 calories. If our 185 lbs. guy consumed only the calories he required (neither over or under-consuming them) it would take 35 days of supplementing with an appropriately dosed green tea supplement to burn the caloric equivalent of a pound of fat.
Assuming the same thing for our 140 lbs. woman, she would need to supplement for 58 days. (This is, of course, a vastly simplified explanation of how weight loss actually works, but I’ve presented it this way to provide you with some much needed context).
Yes, that’s what the data says. It works, it helps, it’s statistically significant… but it’s not a miracle.
Not by any means.
And it’s certainly no “easy solution” to weight loss as suggested by the manufactures of Tava Tea suggest.
What about the evidence that suggests green tea may have carb blocking activity? Or that it may inhibit fatty acid synthase, the enzymatic system that is involved in the process of turning carbohydrates into fat?
These benefits may indeed be real and quantifiable, but they are already “factored into” any clinical study where participants received either green/oolong tea.
So what’s the bottom line here?
First off, no one is arguing that supplementing with a high-quality green or oolong tea is not a smart idea.
Rich in antioxidants, there is plenty of evidence to suggest these teas elevate the metabolism and are also an important factor in cardiovascular health. Heck, I drink a high quality green/oolong tea on a regular basis, and probably, so should you.
However, you should not expect miracles from it. As you’ve seen, the clinical studies do not support claims of miraculous, easy weight loss.
I also wouldn’t suggest buying a large amount of it to begin with—you may not even like green tea. It has a unique taste, and although I like it, I can’t manage more than a couple of large mugs a day—never mind the 5-7 cups a day as recommended by the Tava Tea web site.
What about cost?
It’s true… a high quality organic green or oolong tea isn’t cheap (although the fact that you can infuse the tea many times makes it more affordable than it seems). While Tava Tea may be a decent enough product, it is definitely overpriced; If it were up to me, I’d like to know that all of my purchasing dollars go toward the cost of the product itself, and not to support the referral fees paid to affiliate partners, or fancy packaging.
To this end, I recommend checking out Julian Tai’s Amazing Green Tea (this is not an affiliate link). I buy all my tea from him (for the record, he also sells oolong and puerh tea!). For a low cost alternative to drinking tea, try stacking a potent green tea extract (in capsules) with half a caffeine pill.