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Tannins in Tea
All types of tea contain polyphenol particles known as tannins. Tannins, which got their name because of their critical role in the leather tanning industry, are astringents, meaning that they have the ability to shrink living tissue such as human skin. Tannins are common throughout the plant world, but the type found in tea is chemically distinct from the other varieties found in pomegranates, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate, red wine and other common sources. One factor that makes this distinction important is that tea tannins contain no tannic acid, which is the chemical used in leather tanning and in most other commercial tannin applications. The properties of tea tannins are mostly beneficial to human health, however they can inhibit iron absorption when consumed in relatively large quantities. Black teas work faster in this area than do lighter teas.
How Tannins Work
When tannin molecules are exposed to protein molecules, such as those in human tissue, they mould themselves around the proteins and constrict them. What actually occurs in the tea bag eye treatment is that tannins tighten the skin molecules in the eye area, cinching up the loose skin that has drooped under the eyes. Because tannins have this ability, they have many other skin care and general health applications. Tannins are used in treatments for burns, rashes, bee stings, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. The home beauty fad of using Preparation H under the eyes as an astringent is also because of the tannin content of the popular haemorrhoid treatment.
How the Procedure Works
To give yourself a tea bag eye treatment, you must first use two tea bags just as you would to make ordinary hot tea. To avoid wasting tea, you should do this when another tea drinker is around so that you can serve two cups. If you like very strong tea, however, then you can steep two bags in one cup. The tea bags only need to steep for about 2 minutes, after which they should be set aside on a plate or other nonabsorbent surface to cool while you enjoy your tea.
When the tea bags are cool to the touch but still damp, lie back, close your eyes and place one tea bag over the puffy skin under each eye. Leaving this compress in place for about 15 minutes usually produces noticeably tighter looking and feeling skin, although effects can sometimes be felt and seen after only about 5 minutes of soaking.