Tea Time: Drink to Your Health
● By Kourtney Jason
© marilyn barbone/fotolia.com
For thousands of years, tea has been used for its medicinal purposes, making it a smart option for daily drinking. “All tea has benefits,” explains Laura Owens, owner and CEO of Owens Acres, LLC, in Placerville, and certified master herbalist and certified holistic nutritionist. “All teas are high in antioxidants, phenols, minerals and vitamins. It’s also anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic—meaning it reduces the rate that cells mutate.”
“All true tea is derived from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis,” says Tamalisa Carlson, MPH, RD, a clinical dietitian at Marshall Medical Center in Shingle Springs. “White, green, oolong and black tea are differentiated during processing,” she explains. “The leaves are either taken straight from the plant, as in green tea, or they’re left out in the sun to ferment until they turn black.” While there’s no firm evidence—yet—that drinking tea will prevent cancer in humans, drinking up to two cups per day should be part of your healthful lifestyle. “It contributes to your daily fluid needs, has no calories, promotes heart health, reduces inflammation, protects your skin from sun damage and may even prevent cancer,” Carlson says. “Steeping tea for three to five minutes, to your preference, and squeezing the bag will release the most polyphenols. Choose your favorite type of tea, since all [varieties] have some benefit.”
Teas or herbal teas (which are not true teas, but rather an infusion of fruits, herbs, flowers, roots, spices or other plants) are a great way to begin your day. “They provide much needed hydration and nutrients from your eight-hour sleep period and really help jump-start your body for the day,” Owens says. “Non-caffeinated teas are relaxing and soothing and are best at night to help you wind down and drift off to sleep naturally.”
Naoko Tsunoda, Teavana’s tea authority and director of tea development, drinks a cup of matcha green tea as soon as she gets to work every day. “Matcha has so many [health] benefits and keeps me focused after drinking it. Our matcha has floral overnotes with a rich, creamy body and sweet finish,” Tsunoda says. “Straight green teas have a clean, delicious taste, and when paired with other fruits or spices, the flavor excites your taste buds and provides an enjoyable treat,” she adds.
Both green and white teas are the least-processed type of tea, and they’re the richest sources of antioxidants.
“White teas have an unmatched subtlety, complexity, natural sweetness and delicacy,” Tsunoda says. “Black teas are full-bodied and strong—they taste great alone or with milk and sugar, and they make great iced tea. Oolong teas are full-bodied with a flavorful fragrance and sweet aroma. Most people commonly recognize oolong as the tea served in Chinese restaurants.”
Herbal teas can be a substitute to caffeinated teas and “used as a medicinal alternative for common issues such as headaches and migraines, an upset stomach, colic, weight loss, insomnia, PMS, menopause issues, blood pressure, acne, gout, cold and flu, allergies, cancers/tumors, and a long list of other common complaints,” Owens says. “For health and wellness, it’s best to have a few varieties on hand for both children and adults.”
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