Many Americans are putting down the double-espresso mocha latte and exploring the extraordinary world of tea. Asian cultures realized its value centuries ago, and U.S. consumers are finally catching on. Tea is being rediscovered as the miracle drink that others have revered for years.
As the healthiest beverage in the world after water, tea offers numerous benefits that can significantly contribute to a change in your lifestyle and consciousness, resulting in a healthier way of life. This affects the way you eat and the foods you consume. People who drink four to six cups of tea a day are unlikely to continue consuming foods high in fat and calories.
The 30 Day Regimen
How does drinking tea, especially green tea, contribute to a change in lifestyle, awareness and diet? The answer is surprisingly simple. It just does — at least for most of us. There is nothing you have to do or think about. Within 30 days or so of starting a green tea regimen of four to six cups a day, you'll start to experience a change in attitude and behavior, based on the empowering belief that we're all the source of all our own answers.
At first, you'll notice a subtle change. Instead of reaching for that candy bar or dish of ice cream that you're accustomed to eating after dinner, you'll find that you're consciously taking a smaller portion or eliminating it altogether. You'll begin to notice when you go out to a restaurant that your choices will be more in alignment with foods that will optimize your health.
Energizes in a Healthy Way
On a more scientific note, here's some simple math. A 16-ounce Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino without whipped cream has about 280 calories — or 430 with whip. A cup of tea has none or, if you must have a teaspoon of sugar, about 15 calories. The high calorie count in coffee chain drinks stems from them being loaded with sugar. Drink one, your blood sugar will spike and later crash, resulting in such low levels that you crave either more sugar or other equally empty calories. You'll reach for highly refined carbs, fatty and/or sugary snacks or simply vast amounts of food to replenish your low energy. Tea does not cause such ups and downs.
As to tea's healthful aspects, its polyphenols and flavenoids are powerful antioxidants that have been shown in numerous studies to fight illness and disease, slow aging and beneficially affect health. Clinical tests have shown that they destroy free radicals and have far-reaching positive effects on the entire body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules and fragments of molecules in our bloodstream that can damage the body at the cellular level, leaving it susceptible to cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases.
Studies have shown that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in tea, is at least 100 more times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times more effective than vitamin E at protecting cells and DNA from damage believed to be linked to serious illnesses. It has twice the antioxidant benefit of resveratrol, found in red wine.
More than Just the Taste
In addition, preparing tea is a ceremony that invites you to slow down and do things more deliberately. It is the opposite of wolfing down a quick cheeseburger at a drive-through. It involves careful preparation and a slower pace. This in turn may cause you to slow down in life in general, be more conscious of what you do, how you spend your time and what you eat.
Appreciation for superior quality tea is not limited simply to its delicious taste. You can use your other senses as well. Smell the tea first to enjoy its fragrant aroma. Look at its special natural color and texture. Imagine how the leaves gently unfold in the hot water as it brews in the teapot. Allow yourself to relax and slowly sip your first taste. Let it roll over your tongue. Savor the subtle scent of its fragrance and taste. Slowly enjoy each sip. That's what drinking tea is all about.
There are several advantages to drinking loose-leaf tea over the tea found in most conventional teabags. For one, the quality of the tea is unmatched. Most teabags contain broken leaf pieces, fannings, and tea dust. Secondly, loose-leaf teas contain larger quantities of polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. Most of all, the taste of loose-leaf teas is unsurpassed.
To get you started on your tea-drinking adventures, we recommend green tea, the golden child of the tea world. It is the oldest known form of tea and has taken center stage in most scientific studies on weight loss and appetite suppression. Unlike other types of tea, green tea leaves are only slightly oxidized, a process that changes the chemical structure of the leaf. If you're sensitive to caffeine, there's good news. The average cup of green tea contains 30-50 mg of caffeine, half the amount found in coffee. However, you can easily decaffeinate your tea in about 30 seconds. (Read Kick the Caffeine Habit for more information.)
Soon you'll be inviting friends to "come for tea," the traditional invitation of Asian cultures. You'll find yourself sharing the subtleties of your new-found experience after becoming a tea aficionado. As for the extra pounds? Don't worry about them. They'll begin to slip away all by themselves. All you have to do is drink up.