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As far back as I can remember, I have been a tea drinker.  My father would make the best iced tea in the summer, and he would even drink it for breakfast!  My mother would drink hot tea at night, sometimes in an old porcelain cup and saucer, while she relaxed and read the newspaper. Today, my sister and I enjoy sharing stories about different shops and tea flavors we have tried!

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This love of drinking tea has “spilled over” into curiosity about making my own tea, starting with growing my own tea garden!

Growing a tea garden was much easier than I thought!

First, I chose my favorite tea herbs. My absolute favorite is spearmint! I love the taste, smell and color of mint…what a wonderful herb! I also love mint for its healing properties and forgiving nature. It’s easy to grow, and there are many varieties including chocolate mint, lemon mint, pineapple mint, spearmint and peppermint. This year I even saw mojito mint!

Next, I decided how many herbs to plant, and whether to grow them inside or outside. I have done both! I really enjoy having a little tea garden in a pot somewhere in the kitchen near sunlight, but my favorite place to grow tea herbs is outside, in the spot right next to my kitchen door. These locations are “close by” so I see them every day, and what a daily joy it is to walk by a tea garden full of fragrant herbs! These spots are also meaningful to me because of the memories they evoke. When my children were little, they used to call my small herb garden their “scratch and sniff garden” because when you scratch the leaves of herbs, they release a wonderful smell into the air!

There are many herbs and flowers that you can grow for making tea. The list is almost endless! Here are a few plants that are wonderful for making teas:

  • Chamomile
  • Hibiscus
  • Lemon Balm
  • Rose Hips
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Stevia
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Echinacea
  • Holy Basil
  • Lemon Grass
  • Peppermint

Many tea herbs are healing to the human body and date back to ancient times in China.  For example, chamomile is known for helping to sooth and relax, and its consumption is often recommended before bedtime. Mint is known to sooth nausea, so I brew these two herbs together along with stevia and make a simple tea blend that is wonderful before bedtime.  You can mix herbs together in any combination, depending on your personal preference and health needs.

To dry herbs for tea, simply gather a bunch of herbs (10-15 stems), bunch them together with a rubber band, and hang them in a warm, dry place with plenty of airflow. Drying can take up to several weeks, depending on the plant and its moisture content. When thoroughly dry, strip the leaves off the stems and store them in a tightly sealed glass or ceramic container away from heat and light.

I am excited for you to start your own tea garden and experiment with tea making. It is super easy and will bring much joy to your day! If you have a favorite tea recipe, please share by leaving a comment below!

Sources:

Better Homes & Gardens (2017). Harvesting Herbs from Your Garden. https://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/herbs/harvesting-herbs-from-your-garden/

Francis, M. “Hot Stuff: Grow an Indoor Tea Garden.” HGTV. https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-styles-and-types/hot-stuff-grow-an-indoor-tea-garden

Gaspar, E. “DIY Herbal Teas.” The National Gardening Association Learning Library. https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/124/

University of Rochester Medical Center. A Common Guide to Medicinal Herbs. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=1169

Written by: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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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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iced-tea-lemon-paper-straw-978364

One of the lesser-known benefits of consuming a diet high in polyphenols is its beneficial impact on your gut bacteria.

Polyphenols are natural compounds found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, and wine. They provide amazing health benefits as they proceed through the digestive tract. The majority of polyphenol compounds stay present all the way down to the colon where they are then broken down by your gut bacteria into metabolites.

Polyphenol-rich foods provide nutritional assistance that helps protect the health and welfare of your gut microbiome. They should be included in your diet along with such heavy hitters as probiotics and prebiotics.

Polyphenols Increase Good Bacteria

Your body contains approximately 10 trillion human cells, but over 100 trillion “good” bacteria. They outnumber you 10:1, so you need to protect and support them with your food choices. They can be negatively affected by antibiotics, stress, and poor food choices (fast food, processed food). Polyphenols provide the same type of benefits as prebiotics, meaning that they increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut.

I am a 365 day/year iced tea drinker, and wanted to see if drinking black tea would provide a more beneficial effect on gut bacteria than green tea because it is fermented, whereas green tea is not. Tea is one of the most researched of all the high-polyphenol foods, with many studies showing a positive link between the prebiotic effects of tea leaves and their polyphenol composition.

What is exciting is that not only do polyphenols increase the number of beneficial bacteria, they also inhibit the growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria. Catechin, a polyphenol found in tea, chocolate, apples, and blackberries, has been shown to significantly inhibit the proliferation of pathogens such as Clostridium histolyticum, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella.

Studies also show that tea consumption helps repress the growth of Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium difficile, and Bacteroides spp.

Include Polyphenol-Rich Foods for Balanced Gut Flora

Eating polyphenol-rich foods on a regular basis, along with probiotics, prebiotics, and resistant starch will balance your microbiome and help you achieve good gut health! Below is a list of some of the most polyphenol-rich foods, ranked from highest in polyphenols to lowest (per serving).

Top Polyphenol-Rich Foods:

  • Black elderberry
  • Blueberry
  • Coffee
  • Sweet cherry
  • Strawberry
  • Blackberry
  • Plum
  • Raspberry
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Dark chocolate
  • Chestnut
  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Apple
  • Hazelnut
  • Red wine
  • Black grapes

 

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

 

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

 

Sources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286313000946

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772042/

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/98/6/1631S/4577455

 

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Tired of drinking just water? Are you a tea drinker? Do you enjoy iced tea in the summer? Well, pour a cup of tea and enjoy. It’s good for you.cup of tea

Benefits from tea include:

• May lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some other chronic diseases.

• May lower your blood pressure as drinking just one cup of black tea daily lowered blood pressure levels in men in one study.

• Drinking green tea helped increase bone formation in postmenopausal women.

• Green tea increased activity in the part of the brain used for memory processing showing promise that it may prevent the formation of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

• The caffeine plus L-theanine in tea helps reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

• Encourages healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Most of these benefits come from the “flavonoids” in tea. Flavonoids provide beneficial antioxidant and biochemical effects.

Considering there are little to no calories, a tea leaf is very high in flavonoids. Using hot water to steep the tea will provide you with the most flavonoids. Other methods of tea such as cold-brewed glass of iced teaand powdered mixes don’t usually obtain the same flavonoid levels. Sun tea brewing is not recommended as molds or bacteria on the tea leaf are not destroyed as they would be with using hot water. Tufts University recommends using 175⁰ to 185⁰ Fahrenheit (F) water to brew green tea, 195⁰ F to brew oolong tea and 212⁰ F (boiling water) to brew black tea. Adding some lemon or other citrus juice adds little calories and reduces the risk of flavonoids loss through the digestion process.

One caution: Although tea has only about half the caffeine of coffee, if you are caffeine sensitive you may have to be cautious. If you can’t handle caffeine try the decaffeinated teas or herbal teas that don’t contain caffeine. Most of the flavonoids are still intact in the decaffeinated teas.

Calorie Caution: Some sweet teas have as much added sugar as a soda. Try unsweetened tea with fruit or juice added.

Enjoy tea or iced tea this summer and don’t be afraid to try some of the new flavors of tea. There are many different teas with additional flavors that make delicious iced tea. I really enjoy brewing my own flavored iced green tea to sip on during the hot days of summer.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Tufts University, [2013]. Drinking Tea Protects Your Head, Heart and Bones, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2013, Vol. 31 (2) p 4-5.

Tufts University, [2013]. Green Tea Protects Brain Cells, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2013, Vol. 31 (4) p 7.

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