With the cold and flu season rolling in, and massive snowstorms and chilly days freezing everything in sight, hot cups of tea have been consumed as if it were going out of style at my house. The roommates were a little wary at first about the benefits of tea but, after their first cup, they were asking me to make more cups of tea to knock out their severe colds.
Teas are known to be full of flavonoids, have antimicrobial qualities, and in the East it is regarded as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom. Some teas have been found to help with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, weight loss, mental alertness, and to lower cholesterol.
Here is a list of some teas and their benefits:
I usually have a cup of green tea after breakfast, however, it’s subtle almost vegetative flavor and aroma is best paired with foods such as rice, salads, melon or soy or faux chicken. It’s made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG, and it has been known to reduce the growth of breast, bladder, lung, pancreatic, stomach, and colorectal cancers. Green tea has also been known to prevent clogging of the arteries, improve brain health, improve cholesterol levels, and burn fat.
Black tea is higher in caffeine than all the other teas, and is made with fermented tea leaves. It’s found as the basis for flavored teas like chai (which is great to drink with soy milk) and a lot of instant teas. And it’s great to drink with spicier dishes on its own. Black tea has been known to protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke and reduce the risk of stroke.
I don’t usually drink white tea but, after finding out that the tea possibly has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas, I may want to include a cup of white tea in my life more often. White tea is uncured and unfermented and is best paired with mild flavors such as basmati rice.
Oolong tea has been known to lower bad cholesterol levels. It can be made in a variety of ways but, the greener version of this tea pairs well with sweet rich foods, while darker oolongs go great with stronger-flavored foods.
I’ve never tried pu-erh tea, but I do know that it is made from fermented and aged leaves. It is mostly considered to be a black tea, and it is known to prevent excess weight gain, reduce LDL cholesterol and to aid in digestion. The tea pairs well with oily foods and stir-fries.
I call chamomile the “sleepy-time tea” because it has no caffeine and I can drink it before bed without acquiring enough energy to suddenly want to run a marathon. It has been known to help prevent complications from diabetes, such as vision loss and nerve and kidney damage, and it has also been known to stunt the growth of cancer cells.
I have been spiking everyone’s tea in the house with Echinacea because it has been known to fight the common cold. Other friends and family members outside the home have been coughing and sneezing everywhere, but *knocks on wood* I haven’t shown any signs of getting a cold.
Hibiscus Tea and Rooibos (Red Tea)
Hibiscus tea has been known to lower blood pressure in people with slightly elevated levels. Rooibos (or red tea) is a South African herb that is fermented. Some medical studies have shown that rooibos tea’s flavonoids have cancer-fighting properties, but information on the tea is limited.
All tea in general can be served hot during the cold months and cold during the hot months and sweetened with honey (not vegan) or agave nectar (vegan), which works and tastes like honey. Another thing, as I was writing this, I reconfirmed that chocolate pairs well with most teas excellently. Dark chocolate especially is great to drink with a healthy cup of tea because the chocolate is great for your heart; helps with the blood flow to your brain; it helps control blood sugar; is full of antioxidants; contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel; and is high in vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, magnesium and iron.
For more tips on vegetarian living, check out my book The Beginners Guide to Becoming A Vegetarian.