The Health Benefits Of Drinking Tea

health benefits of different tea types.

Looking to spice up that plain cup of water? Try adding a little tea. Whether it's black, green, or oolong, there are many health benefits of different tea types. Tea has remarkable anti-cancer, anti-aging, and weight loss properties that make it an ideal drink for your health.

The health benefits of drinking tea were first noticed 3000 years ago in ancient China. But the drink didn't spread until 600 A.D., when the Japanese took up the habit. In the 17th century, the English discovered tea and it became a national pasttime. Tea was considered so important that the British taxed it heavily in the American colonies, leading to the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

There are different types of tea, and each of them have a distinct health benefit. We'll go through the list of teas and their properties so you can decide which one best suits your needs.

Green Tea

This drink has been studied extensively for its health benefits. Green tea contains antioxidants that fight dangerous free radicals, making it a proven anti-cancer treatment. It can prevent clogged arteries by increasing circulation and reduce risk of stroke and Parkinson's disease. Green tea is also good for weight loss and lowering high cholesterol levels.

Black Tea

The typical English "cuppa tea," black tea has the highest caffeine content- almost the same as a cup of coffee. This makes it an ideal drink for sleepy afternoons in the workplace. It can help reduce lung damage from cigarette smoke and also prevent strokes. Additionally, black tea- despite its caffeine- can aid in relaxation at the end of the day. The amino acid L-theanine is thought to give black tea its anti-stress properties.

White Tea

The unfermented and uncured form of white tea has the highest anti-cancer properties of any of the teas, since it's less processed. It can help strengthen bones and lower blood pressure. White tea also has small amounts of fluoride than help keep the mouth healthy and free of cavities or gum disease.

Oolong Tea

This tea can lower high cholesterol levels, as seen in animal studies. It's also marketed as a weight loss supplement, but that claim hasn't been proven yet.  What has been proven is that oolong tea reduces chronic inflammatory conditions, lowers cholesterol, and provides valuable antiviral properties.

The leading causes of death in the industrialized world are heart disease, stroke, COPD, cancer, and diabetes. These conditions can be caused by factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and damaging free radicals. The antioxidants in tea bind to the free radicals and prevent them from causing cancer; they also lower LDL to prevent stroke and coronary artery disease.

With America suffering from a crisis in diabetes and heart disease, it's important to reduce your risk by exercising, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drinking a few cups of tea a day. Who knows- that cuppa tea every afternoon could possibly save your life one day.

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Mull Your Own Apple Cider

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Regular apple cider, when heated and flavored with spices can become an entirely new and more exotic beverage. The following recipe is for a homemade apple cider that is prepared with spices and an orange. This hot drink, which has a hint of tangy orange flavor, is a popular choice among New Englanders. You can make it ahead of time for any event by chilling and reheating it. It can be enjoyed throughout the entire holiday season.

You will need:

1/2 gallon of fresh, unfiltered apple cider
1 orange
15 cloves
4 3-inch sticks of cinnamon
15 allspice berries
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
7 pods of cardamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

To make:
1 Pour the apple cider into a covered 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stainless steel, ceramic, or crock-pots are the preferred option for cider, as the metals from other types of pans may fuse with the cider and give it a bitter taste.

2 While the cider heats up, use a serrated knife or vegetable peeler to peel two or three thick strips of the orange. Add the orange, orange peels, cloves, and the spices into the sauce pan. Keep the pan covered, turn the heat down to low and heat the mixture to a simmer for 20 minutes.

3 Use a sieve to separate the the mulled cider from the orange, cloves, and spices. If the drink is for a group of adults, you can add bourbon, brandy, or rum to spike it. Serve hot. You may adorn each cup with a cinnamon stick if desired.

The recipe will make about 8 cups of cider. If the cider is not sweet enough for your taste, a small amount of sugar may be stirred in.

The taste of fresh homemade apple cider can not be beat. Mulling apple cider is a great activity for families to participate in together for the holiday season. The ingredients can be experimented with to create unique flavors using apple cider vinegar or your fruit or fruit juice of choice. Make it it ahead of time for a party or event. Simply chill it in the refrigerator and pour it back in a saucepan to heat it up when you're ready. Share the delicious, hot, homemade beverage with family and friends. They are guaranteed to love it.


Add Some Flair (and Flavor) to Your Milk

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When we think of wholesome and healthy foods, milk is one of the drinks that spring to mind. We know we should drink more. We want our kids to drink it. The fact is, many people just don’t like the taste. For others, who already drink a fair amount of it, we can get a little bored.

Let’s address both issues at once, by adding flavor and a little flair! A simple syrup is a quick way to add a little flavor. Dissolve two parts table sugar in one part warm water, and add your favorite extract, to taste. Vanilla is especially good. Because the simple syrup is concentrated, you only need a small amount to add flavor, thus not watering down your milk. Simple syrups will work with any type of milk, including soy, rice and almond. This syrup also works very well in coffee. A simple syrup will last for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

In the fall, all thoughts turn to pumpkin! Pumpkin pie is sure to please. Mix a can of sweetened condensed milk with 3 Tbs. of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to taste. Stir in 2 cups of milk. Drink it as is or add it to your coffee for a pumpkin spice latte treat! The pumpkin spice flavor is strong enough to stand up to soy and almond milk as well. This will keep one week in the refrigerator.

Caramel is one of the hot flavors right now. Take a can of sweetened condensed milk, peel off the label and place it in your slow cooker unopened. Cover the can completely with water. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Make sure the can stays completely covered. Turn the slow cooker off and cool slowly. When the can is cool enough to handle, open it up and voila! You have gooey, thick caramel sauce. Use it as is added directly to milk or coffee. Caramel will keep one week in the refrigerator.

In warmer weather we want it to be ice cold. It’s perfectly alright to freeze your flavored milk. Add concentrated flavorings directly to milk and freeze in ice cube trays. As soon as it’s frozen, transfer cubes to a freezer container as it will pick up other flavors easily. Add to your milk or cooled coffee for an icy cold treat!


Make Your Own “Milk”

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As knowledge of dairy allergies and intolerances becomes more widespread, a greater number of people are turning to alternatives. Delicious, nutritious and versatile substitutes can be made from a variety of foods such as oats, nuts, legumes, rice and other grains. However, by far the most popular choices are soy milk, coconut milk and almond milk. While these are readily available in most grocers these days, many people are displeased with the number of additives in them. Fortunately, these healthy dairy alternatives are simple enough to make on you own, sans chemicals.

Coconut milk

For this, you'll need an eight-ounce package of unsweetened shredded coconut, some cheesecloth, four cups of boiling water, a sieve, a large bowl and a blender. Add both the water and shreds to the blender and puree them for about one minute. Next, layer the cheesecloth two layers thick in the sieve, hold it over your bowl and pour the mixture through it. After it's mostly drained, gather up the edges of the cloth and squeeze out the remaining liquid. You can use the leftover shreds to cook with.

If you want to add flavoring to your coconut milk, you can add either a whole vanilla bean or half a teaspoon of extract. However, you're free to add more if you'd like. Sweeten with sugar or honey if desired. Coconut milk is useful for baking, puddings, soups and stews as it is very creamy and possesses a thickening quality. The end product can be refrigerated, but it's recommended that you use it within three days for the best taste. Like most dairy substitutes, this doesn't freeze well.

Soy milk and Almond milk

The process for both of these options is the same. You'll need 1 1/2 cups of raw almonds or soy beans, four cups of water, cheesecloth, a sieve, a bowl and any flavoring you desire. Vanilla beans or extract are popular choices. To start, you must soak the beans or nuts for eight to 12 hours to soften them. Once this is finished, put them in a blender with the water and blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture through the cheesecloth-lined sieve and squeeze out the leftover liquid. You can save the resulting pulp and use it for baking or other purposes. Almond pulp in particular is excellent for cookies and cakes. Add vanilla or another flavoring and sweeten to suit your preferences.

Almond milk and soy milk aren't as useful for cooking since they lack thickening properties. This is especially true of using almond milk in puddings. Store your almond milk or soy milk in the refrigerator for up to three days. Freezing is not recommended since it can ruin the texture and consistency.


Smoothies…for Now and Later

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For working mothers, it can be difficult to find the time to prepare healthy meals with enough variety to keep the family happy. However, you can make ahead smoothies that have endless combinations. They are a quick way to provide a nutritious breakfast for the family. The following recipes are for one serving. However, the amount of ingredients can be increased for a larger batch. Make sure to store and freeze the rest of the batch until next time. Here are two starter recipes, one with a milk base and one with water.

First, prepare half a cup of blackberries. Both frozen and fresh blackberries work for this recipe. Also, prepare two ripe peaches and make sure to clean out the pit in the center. You'll need half a cup of low fat milk. Use nonfat for a low calorie count or 2% for full flavor. If you would like some extra sweetness, you can also use a teaspoon of honey. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

The second recipe is a strawberry non-dairy drink that is water-based. Prepare one cup of strawberries, a quarter cup of water, four ice cubes and a tablespoon of honey. Add the water and strawberries in the blender first with the honey and ice cubes added last. Start off blending the mixture slowly while increasing the speed of the blender gradually to high until the mixture is a red, smooth liquid. Continue to blend on high for an additional 30 seconds.

You may also add 4 to 5 ice cubes to chill the drink if you want to serve it immediately. Using chilled or frozen ingredients usually eliminates the need for ice cubes, though. Freeze the rest of the batch, but it would be best not to add ice cubes to the rest as it will water down the flavor of the drink. When the rest of the frozen smoothie batch is ready to be served, just defrost it until it can be put into a blender. Then you can blend the frozen mixture until it is smooth.

You can experiment with different types of fruit according to your family's tastes, and even sneak in a few spinach leaves they'll never know are in there. Or even try an apple and spinach smoothie. 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt are great additions to most smoothies, and boost the calcium. Avocado will also add creaminess with some good vitamins. Blueberries add great color, flavor and antioxidants. Also, if you break a banana into a few chunks and freeze it, it makes a great thickener and can replace ice. Because busy mothers can make them ahead of time, these healthy beverages are a great way to ensure that the kids are getting their fair share of daily fruit.