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Cupboard with different types of teas

January is National Tea Month, and what a great time of year to enjoy a hot, steamy cup! These past few cold days have called for us to find hot drinks to warm us up, from the inside out. A hot, steamy cup of tea is perfect for any time of day.

According to the Tea Association of the USA, tea is nearly 5,000 years old. It was purportedly discovered in 2737 BC by the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung, aka “The Divine Healer”. As legend tells us, some tea leaves accidentally blew into the Emperor’s pot of boiling water and created the first tea brew. According to Chinese tea scholars, the Emperor, as a botanical explorer, accidentally poisoned himself some 85 times, each time being cured by this wonderful tea brew.

There is a great deal of research about the benefits of drinking hot tea. Below are five common benefits:

  • Tea is packed with antioxidants. These help keep our bodies “young” and protect them from toxins.
  • Tea has less caffeine than coffee. The kinds that contain caffeine usually have about 50% less than coffee, which means you can drink it without affecting your nervous system.
  • Research shows a correlation between tea and heart health. A recent study says people who drink tea have a 20% lower chance of having a stroke or heart attack than those who don’t.
  • Tea may help with weight loss, especially when paired with a well-balanced diet and exercise. Tea is usually calorie-free, and it can give you energy and cause your body to burn more calories throughout the day.
  • Tea may protect your immune system. Studies show that tea helps immune cells reach their targets more quickly.

The Daily Tea suggests drinking hot tea all throughout the day. Here are some of the guidelines for what kind and how it might help your health:

Early Morning: To start your day off right, try white tea first thing when you wake up. It’s gentle on a stomach that has been fasting (which we do when we sleep) and has a light, aromatic quality. For a caffeine boost first thing in the morning, choose a high quality white tea and boil with extremely hot water to bring out the caffeine.

Mid-Morning: Around 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning, move to a green tea. This will help give your metabolism a kick start, and it has a very light, uplifting, approachable flavor.

Lunch: Black tea is recommended at this time of day for a few reasons: it’s widely available and easy to find if you’re out and about to grab a mid-day bite to eat, it’s great paired with food, and you can choose your level of caffeine depending on how your energy levels are that day.

Post-Lunch: Pu-erh tea is a great choice for after lunch, because it only has a small amount of caffeine – enough to help ward off that afternoon slump, but not so much that you’ll be up all night. It’s a perfect follow-up to a healthy, well-balanced lunch.

Evening: There are several great options for nighttime tea. Varieties such as chamomile, valerian root, lavender, lemon balm, and passion flower do not contain caffeine, and they may help calm you down and promote a good night’s sleep. Give them a try, do a little experimenting and figure out which you prefer.

 

Sources:

Edgar, J. (2009). Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits.  WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits#1

Harvard Men’s Health Watch (2014). Tea: A cup of good health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health

Tea Association of the USA. Tea Fact Sheet 2018-2019. http://www.teausa.org/14655/tea-fact-sheet

The Daily Tea (2018). A Cup of Tea for Every Time of Day. https://thedailytea.com/taste/a-cup-of-tea-for-every-time-of-day/

 

Written by: Brenda Sandman-Stover, Extension Program Assistant, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County; and Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences.

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