Eat Smart! Celebrate the benefits of tea during National Hot Tea Month

January is National Hot Tea Month and on a cold wintery day, nothing can be more refreshing than a steaming cup of tea.

A cup of tea has many health benefits

Tea contains antioxidants, has less caffeine than coffee and actually keeps you hydrated.

It is the second most popular beverage in the world, behind water. All tea – be it white, green, black or oolong – comes from the same plant and all varieties are beneficial. The difference is in the processing. For example, white tea is harvested from young plants. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and has more amounts of polyphenols than black or oolong tea.

Research shows that the amount of polyphenols in 4-6 cups of green tea a day can lower risks of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. But do not add milk to your tea. German researchers have found that milk blocks the beneficial polyphenols in tea.

Tea has no calories plus it has a third less caffeine than coffee, about 30 milligrams. Green tea may even help boost your metabolism slightly. In a small study, participants burned about 65 more calories a day when they drank tea as compared to an equal amount of water. The study also reported a significant increase in fat oxidation (turning fat into energy) with tea over water.

Drinking 4 cups of tea not only hydrates as well as a liter of water, but is a great antioxidant, protects the immune system, guards against a variety of cancers and even boost your metabolism.

And with flu and cold season upon us, there is nothing more soothing than drinking a cup of hot tea.

Brewing the perfect cup of tea

Take your pick – white, green, black or oolong – and brew a pot of refreshing and healthy tea. The key to a great cup of tea is in the brewing time – longer does not make it better, it makes it bitter. Follow these simple four steps to a great cup of tea.

1) Place one bag or one teaspoon of leaves for each 8 oz. cup of water in your cup or teapot.

2) Heat the water in a kettle, boiling for black tea, hot, not boiling for white or green tea.

3) Pour over the tea and step away from the cup or pot. Resist all temptation to dunk the bag or stir the leaves during the brewing process.

4) Keep an eye on the clock – it only takes a few minutes.

Suggested brew times:

  • White: 4-5 minutes
  • Green: 1-2 minutes
  • Black: 2-3 minutes
  • Oolong : 3 minutes

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