Move over coffee--there's a zestier, more powerful drink to start your day: tea. Although tea has been around since ancient times, today's tea has newfound benefits that make it one hot, wholesome beverage. But what is it about tea that should turn you into a regular sipper? And how can you approach drinking tea so you'll do it full steam ahead? There's plenty more to discover about this comfort drink steeped in history, from its incredible nutritional goodness to unique ways of making tea a staple in your daily diet.
Why Tea Has Ruled Through the Ages
Legend has it that tea was discovered thousands of years ago by Chinese Emperor Shen Nung when a tea tree leaf fell into his pot of boiling water. Overcome with the resulting brew, he determined everyone should drink it for its invigorating effects. While this mythical story may not hold water, the Chinese deserve credit for unearthing tea's ability to heal stomach problems, rid the body of toxins, and reduce headaches. Of course, ancient tea drinkers also came to appreciate the pleasing flavor of tea--a sentiment that has lasted through the centuries.
Today, tea is consumed all over the world. People drink tea for the many benefits it still offers. Not only does tea relax and hydrate the body, but it also provides a plethora of disease-preventing bonuses. Tea helps stave off many types of cancer, thanks to its abundant antioxidants, plus research has shown it protects the body against neurological diseases, heart attack, and the harms of ultraviolet rays. Drinking tea can also be useful in the battle of the bulge. People who drink tea tend to lose weight easier and quicker than those who don't, according to studies.
Benefits aside, getting the most power and pleasure from tea may boil down to you and how you choose to drink it.
The Best Tea: Go for the Green
Tea comes in a range of flavors, blends, and strengths, each with unique perks. One tea that comes out on top time after time is green tea. Often touted as the healthiest tea on earth, green tea has shown promise in reducing blood pressure, improving brain function, lowering the risk of diabetes, and strengthening bones. High in catechin antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it's a nutritional powerhouse that's bursting with nutty, savory flavor. With thousands of types available--from Jasmine to Sencha to Dragonwell--green tea's got variety in the bag, too.
But no matter which green tea suits your fancy, how you drink it can affect its potency. For starters, avoid overheating it. Using boiling water to steep green tea will degrade the catechins. In fact, any way you can enhance green tea's antioxidants so you'll get the full health effects is a better approach. Besides heating the tea water to no more than 170 degrees and steeping for one to two minutes, add a squeeze of lemon. The vitamin C in lemons helps the catechins absorb more readily in the body. Also, be selective when choosing green tea; generally, the higher the quality, the more powerful--and flavorful--the tea. Finally, since catechins bind to proteins in food and reduce their effectiveness, drink green tea between meals.
Be a Tea-Totaler Every Day
Only water beats tea for the most-consumed beverage in the world, so it's no wonder there's plenty of tea to drink and lots of ways to do it. Here's a simple rule: drink tea every day for health and pleasure. Many people do, and it's proven to aid in everything from healing the body and mind to expanding lifespans. Tea is also as relaxing as alcohol, without the hangover. And you'll never get bored with tea--there are just too many varieties available and methods for preparing and drinking it.
Want a hardy tea to satiate your mid-morning hunger? Add a touch of honey, a splash of almond milk, or a sprinkling of cinnamon to your cup. Not enough time to brew loose leaf tea? Just about any tea today comes in prepackaged tea bags, and they offer convenience as well as health benefits. Reserve caffeinated beverages for morning imbibing, drink herbal teas at night, and de-stress with decaf in the afternoon. When summer weather's too hot for tea, go for the iced variety. You can find many of the same benefits of hot tea in iced teas; just be careful to avoid beverages that contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other harmful ingredients.
When it comes to comfort drinks, there's nothing quite like tea for taste, health benefits, and satisfaction, plus it's got centuries of backing as a superpower dietary staple. So go ahead, sip the day away and enjoy all this historic, wholesome beverage has to offer.