Warm Up With Tea

tea2With the frigid temperatures of the winter season approaching, there’s nothing like wrapping your hands around a steaming hot beverage to warm you up. Seasonal beverages that are quite popular during this time are hot chocolate and peppermint flavored-drinks. It is to turn to these thick, rich, and creamy concoctions as your beverage of choice during the cold winter months, but one beverage that deserves more attention during this holiday season is tea. A simple cup of tea with a touch of honey is a perfect alternative when you’re just not in the mood for a rich, sugar-laden drink.

tea1The history of tea goes way back to approximately 10th century BC, where it originated in China. Before tea was introduced to the Western world through trading on the Silk Road, it was primarily used for medicinal purposes in China. Nowadays, tea has evolved from its medicinal uses to the modern form of drinking teas. Additionally, tea has become the second most widely consumed beverage in the world following water. You may have noticed the wide variety of teas available on the shelves of speciality stores, and this is largely due to the various methods of processing used to create the product. The most common categories of tea found on the market include white, green, oolong, red, and black teas.

One of the many reasons that tea has become such a popular beverage around the world is that it contains many cancer fighting flavonoids, most notably the antioxidant ECGC. ECGC is a potent flavonoid that contributes to reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. Green tea contains the highest concentrations of these ECGC flavonoids, but black, white, and oolong teas all have appreciable amounts. Similarly to coffee, tea also contains caffeine, which helps with focus and concentration. Some teas, oolong for example, contain a powerful combination of antioxidants and caffeine that may stimulate your metabolism and contribute to weight loss.

tea5While the conventional method of making tea involves steeping leaves or a tea bag in a cup of boiling water, there are many other uses for teas that might surprise you. For example, rather than throwing away the tea bag after it has steeped, place it over your eyes for 20 minutes to revitalize and relieve undereye circles. These naturally occurring chemicals found in tea act to reduce the puffiness of tired eyes. If you are suffering from any mouth pain or a toothache, a cup of hot peppermint tea is your friend. Peppermint is a natural antiseptic and contains menthol, which helps alleviate any pain you may be experiencing.

If you’re looking for a new beverage to warm you up during this holiday season, tea is a great choice. A versatile beverage, tea has many health benefits in addition to providing some much needed warmth and hydration.

Michelle Chen is a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. She plans to enter the field of medicine.

Photo Credit: Samantha Gitlin

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