Tea please…


First Posted: 4/8/2013

Whether you reach for the first cup of coffee in the morning or reach for the first cup of tea, old habits are hard to break. Flavored coffees are a big hit today, drumming up a possible 400 calories, depending on the size and extra creams. Once we get used to that taste, it’s hard to change.

Take a look at your early morning beverage. Does it come with extra calories? If not, good for you. If it does, see if there is a small change like cream to 2% milk that you can make to save even 50 calories! They all add up.

Health is a big reason some of us may make the switch from coffee to tea. The National Institute of Health comments that green tea is possibly effective for “lowering high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.” (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/960.html)

Not all parts of the camellia sinensis plant are created equal. The useful parts of tea are the leaf bud, leaf and stem. Black tea is the most common type in the western world. It’s processing is different from other types in that it is fully oxidized. It is harvested, dried and well-fermented to create a distinctive flavor. Brew black teas should be brewed in fully boiling water.

Green teas have undergone less processing and have a much lighter flavor. Since the leaves are not fermented, the taste is pleasantly fresh and herbal. The health benefits of green tea are due to flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that have disease-fighting properties According to NIH, “green tea is not fermented and is produced by steaming fresh leaves at high temperatures. During this process, it is able to maintain important molecules called polyphenols, which seem to be responsible for many of the benefits of green tea. Polyphenols might be able to prevent inflammation and swelling, protect cartilage between the bones, and lessen joint degeneration. Research cannot yet explain how this works.” For best taste, do not brew green teas in fully boiling water.

Whatever breakfast drink you choose, take a look at the calories. See if you can make a small change to save even 50 calories each day. If you are an “all day” coffee drinker, you might want to consider changing from coffee to green tea possibly for one cup a day. Here is a recipe from Kentucky Extension to get you started.

Strawberry Green Tea

61/2 cups water

6 Green tea, cup size tea bags

1/2 pound fresh strawberries

1/4 cup honey

1 lemon optional

Wash strawberries and remove the tops. Chop the berries with a hand chopper in the large pot.

Add water to the chopped berries in large pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 5 minutes. Add tea bags and submerge. Steep tea for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the tea through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth lined colander into a 1 gallon pitcher.

Add honey and stir until dissolved. Chill and serve. Garnish with a lemon slice or a fresh strawberry if desired.

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