Wednesday, January 26

SNACK TIME national hot tea month

Time for Tea
January is National Hot Tea Month! Winter is the perfect time to drink one of the world's most popular and ancient beverage, tea. Cold and flu season peaks during the winter months and drinking hot tea can soothe a sore throat and open up sinuses. Researchers have found that drinking tea may help strengthen the body's immune system response when fighting off infection giving people more reason to brew a hot cup of tea on chilly days.

Tea is widely available, comes in a variety of flavors and aromas, is easy to make and contains unique health promoting properties.  Whether it’s black, green, or oolong, tea is made from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, it’s the processing of the tea leaves that produces changes in not only color and flavor, but a class of compounds called polyphenols These compounds include flavonoids, catechins and theaflavins—widely researched for their helath promoting properties.

What’s the difference between black and green tea?
Black tea is fully fermented whereas green tea is not. Oolong tea is only partially fermented. Both green and black tea contain flavonoids, potent antioxidants linked to lowered risk for cancer and heart disease.

Tea Trivia…
Americans drink 50 billion cups of tea each year, 40 billion of which are served as iced tea
Herbal teas are not actually teas, but are concoctions of peels, flower leaves, herbs, and spices, and are caffeine free. 
The caffeine content of tea is about 40 mg per cup compared to 100 mg of caffeine per cup of brewed coffee. 
Compounds found in tea can stop the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath
The tea bag and iced tea was invented in the US in 1904

Too much of a good thing?
Because tea contains caffeine, drinking too much or too close to bedtime can interfere with ability to go to or stay asleep.

Is bottled as good as freshly brewed tea?
Due to processing methods, bottled tea is probably not as high in polyphenols as a freshly brewed cup of green or black tea, however, both offer varying levels of health-promoting compounds and also contribute to hydration. Watch for sugar content by checking labels to keep them minimal. 

Enjoy your tea, hot or cold! 

Contributed by Leslie K. Kay, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Management Services

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