The Health Benefits of Black Tea- Why Everyone Should Drink at Least One Cup a Day
How tea and me became friends
I married a man who went to high tea for his 13th birthday. Mind you, this was his choice. Needless to say, marrying into an English family meant I had to drink tea- and lots of it. Fourteen years ago, I couldn’t stand the taste of tea. Now I can’t go a day without it. This article explains why I think English teatime should become an American tradition.
The health benefits
Black tea comes from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis. The antioxidant power in these leaves is astounding. Antioxidants are nutrients that detoxify free radicals in the body that cause various cancers and disease. Fruits and vegetables are filled with these disease-fighting superpowers as well, though tea contains more than triple the amount found in most veggies!
Regular tea drinkers have been noted to have less heart disease, lower cholesterol, a higher metabolism, and a host of other advantages. In order to receive these benefits, researchers who study the health benefits of tea suggest drinking at least two cups a day. I wonder what happens to someone who drinks a pot a day? I’ll keep you posted.
The psychology of tea
Much like other European nations, afternoon tea requires the slowing down of activity long enough to sip a hot beverage. Tea can be enjoyed alone with a good book or with friends and loved ones. The simple ritual of preparing a pot of tea and a snack reminds the body and heart to slow down and take care of itself.
Make tea part of your everyday routine
For those who are hustled coffee drinkers, switching to tea will be a bit of a challenge. Remember that habits take at least thirty days to develop and tastes must be acquired. Follow these steps and you’ll be an Englishman in a month’s time. Okay, maybe you’ll just enjoy your afternoon cup of tea as a welcome ritual.
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Purchase some good quality tea
There is no way you will like tea if you drink Lipton’s teabags. It is not much work to brew fresh leaves and the taste difference between bags and leaves is enormous. Here are some suggestions if you are a virgin tea drinker. I’ve chosen Harney and Sons for one reason- their tea is GOOD.
Paris- Fruity black tea with flavors of caramel and vanilla
English Breakfast- Smooth full-bodied brew perfect for the morning
Queen Catherine- A blend of three Chinese black teas, perfect for the afternoon
Decaffeinated Ceylon- A mellow satisfying tea that is also known as orange pekoe. Note that it doesn't AT ALL taste like orange! Drink decaf if you want a cup at night.
Eight at the Fort- A blend of eight teas designed for world leaders at the White House. This tea is a staple in our house.
If the prices seem high to you, remember that you only need 1tsp per cup of tea. For a person who drinks one cup a day, the tin will last you for months.
Other tea necessities
If buying a teapot seems excessive for you in your early tea-drinking journey, all you really need to get started is a tea basket. This handy little tool can be used to brew a cup or a whole pot.
What kind of cup?
If you are into frills and lace, go ahead and purchase a teapot and teacups. There are more choices than you can imagine. However teacups are a bit on the small side. You want to find a cup that is smaller than a coffee cup but larger than a teacup.
Ready, set, go!
If you are a coffee addict, don’t try to replace your morning Joe with tea just yet. Even though black tea gives a caffeine boost, it is not the same jolt as coffee. This may seem like a disadvantage, but tea can be sipped in the afternoon hours when you need a “pick me up” without keeping you wide awake all night the way coffee might.
The best thing to do is start with an afternoon cup of tea. You will need 1tsp of tea leaves per cup. Make sure the water comes to a full boil and then immediately take the water off the heat. Put the strainer in your cup with the leaves and pour the water over the leaves. Do not do it in reverse. The rushing water on the leaves helps to draw out the flavor. Let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes (check the instructions for specific times) and then you can add milk and sugar.
All of the teas I recommended should have a splash of milk. Sugar is optional. Do not try to use half and half or cream! Tea can go well with cookies, crackers, cheese and fruit, a sandwich, scones, muffins, or biscotti.
When the weather gets hot, you can brew all of these teas and make it into a batch of iced tea. We simply brew a pot of tea, let it cool, and place it in the fridge. When you are ready for your afternoon tea, pour over ice and add some sugar and lemon. Here is a recipe for sugar water that can be added to fresh tea to give it that southern tea taste.
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of water
Bring both to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and store in the refrigerator.
You'll like it, I promise
Give yourself thirty days to become a tea drinker. Purchase good tea, add a cup a day into the afternoon and enjoy the ritual of preparation. Add milk, sugar, honey, lemon or mint leaves (in iced tea). Treat your thirst, your immune system, and your mind to the stress relief that comes with a cup of freshly brewed tea.
Invite a neighbor over. Make some for a co-worker. Drink a cup with a good book. You will be hooked, I promise.
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