Cold Weather, Hot Tea

It’s getting colder and though we may look back longingly at flip flop weather and long walks outside, there is at least one benefit to cold weather: It’s tea season.

Although tea can pretty much be enjoyed anytime of the year, there is something magical about a hot cup of spiced tea on a blustery fall day. And if you happen to have a few shortbread cookies and tiny finger sandwiches, it just makes it all the more enjoyable. But as TIME magazine outlined in their article “13 Reasons Tea is Good for You,” this strange flavored-drink is not just for ladies at lunch.

Firstly, TIME warns that there are really only four types of tea: black, green, white, and oolong. If the tea you buy mentions one of these names or something about the plant Camellia sinensis, you’ve got the real stuff. However, other all-natural, plant-based teas such as rooibos, or red tea, is also thought to have similar health benefits and, unlike its cousins, is caffeine-free. Teas to avoid therefore are the more obscurely titled varieties that simply say “herbal” or sound more like a juice cocktail than actual tea.

The benefits of tea are extensive. The antioxidants in tea aid in muscle endurance, fight again free radicals which can attack the heart, and help to prevent a long list of diseases including cardiovascular and many types of cancer. Tea, unlike coffee, hydrates the body while still providing a healthy dose of caffeine. Depending on the specific type, tea improves the bones, skin, and brain and can be extremely beneficial to diabetics. Drinking it regularly can also help in weight loss and keep the waistline in check. From a diet perspective, there is no added sugar in tea and for most people, it does not require the addition of cream or sweetener to be considered drinkable.

But if straight tea is not really your thing or if you’re just looking for something a little different, there is another great tea option: chai tea. Keeping with the festivities of the season, chai tea is hot, creamy, and wonderfully spicy. The Huffington Post offers a more sophisticated recipe for an at-home chai tea latte, but making a basic chai tea does not have to be difficult. Many grocery stores sell chai tea bags along with their other varieties. Try to avoid the pre-made mixes as these generally have a lot of extra fat and sugar. Chai tea is made just like regular tea, and though you can drink it straight, to get that real chai taste and color, top the steeped tea with a little milk or cream and add a spoonful of brown sugar, agave syrup, or honey.

Regardless of what kind you like or how you serve it, tea is one of the easiest, healthiest, and most satisfying cold-weather drink available. And with literally hundreds of varieties and flavors, it’s hard not to find at least one that gives you that cozy, warm-belly feeling.

To read the Huffington Post article, including other recipes for fall drinks, check out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/healthy-holiday-drinks_n_2296073.html

Additional Sources:
http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/04/13-reasons-to-love-tea/
http://greenlifediary.com/health-benefits-of-rooibos-tea/