Did you know that there are chemicals sprayed on your tea bags? Here are the best ways to drink tea and get all the health benefits.
Whether you enjoy a hot cup in the winter or an ice-cold glass in the summer, anytime can be tea time. From black to white, red to green, tea is a popular drink that has found its way into many rituals in virtually all cultures around the world.
By now, most of us know that many of these drinks have important benefits.
True teas are made from leaves of tea plants, or Camellia sinensis, which originated in China. Black, green and white teas are rich in antioxidants, as is rooibos, which is actually not a tea at all, but a legume from South Africa. Rooibos tea is actually a ’tisane.’ and infusion made from the leaves, flowers, seeds and/or roots of a tremendous variety of plants, such as mint and hibiscus (with or without rose hip), sassafras and ginseng. Interestingly, the only thing all these plants have in common is that they are not Camellia sinensis.
Many cultures have ancient traditions of drinking teas and tisanes for medical benefits, even though few randomized clinical trials support this use. The main reason appears to be that the strength of the active ingredients varies according to growing conditions and soil fertility, to name only two confounding factors. However, in Chinese Traditional Medicine, a recipe of hawthorn and pu-er (fermented and often aged tea) is used to reduce high blood fat (elevated triglycerides) levels. Catnip and chamomile ‘teas’ calm, while pine tea high in vitamins A and C, and St. John’s wort tea has been used as an antidepressant. In addition to its antioxidant properties, green tea may boost your metabolism, aiding weight loss.
But if your favorite brew is in a teabag, there’s some bad news: that bag is likely to be coated with epichlorohydrin—a known carcinogen that is particularly active in hot water.
The good news is, epichlorohydrin is also soluble in water-—so rinse the bag well in room-temperature water, and the epichlorohydrin will dissolve away without dangerous activation. Then you can make tea according to the package instructions or your particular taste, without the worry.
Recently, teabags have begun to be produced from plastics like PVC and food-grade nylon as an alternative to the paper tea bags. Unfortunately, these teabags begin breaking down and leaching chemicals into water at temperatures well below those used to make tea. And many teas and tisanes, even high-end, expensive ones, contain pesticide residues and flavoring agents.
The best way to make a tea or a tisane?
- First, buy loose-leaf organic: loose leaf tends to have higher levels of their antioxidants and other health-boosting compounds, and organic means lower risk of toxic chemical ‘cides.
- Second, place the leaves in a teaball or a strainer and brew your beverage in a cup or a pot.
- Third, savor the aroma and sweeten with your favorite sweetener. (To learn more about which sweeteners are best for your health and weight-loss goals, click here.) Drink with that special someone, a friend or purring cat, your favorite book or just as a fast break from a hectic day.
For an incredibly refreshing drink that’s perfect for these last days of summer, try our Slimmer’s Tea. It takes about 5 minutes to make and it’s full of citrus flavor and packed with antioxidants and metabolism-boosting phytochemicals.