TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HEALING POWERS OF TEA DURING HOT TEA MONTH THIS JANUARY
This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.
It isn’t always clear who makes up these declarations, but the calendar is full of days and months dedicated to particular foods and health causes. I personally think it is a good way to focus our attention on things we can eat or do that can have a big impact on our well-being. One month at a time.
This year I plan to highlight my favorite food or health “occasions” at the start of each month so you can “celebrate” them right along with me. Who said eating well wasn’t fun!
My pick for January is the celebration of Hot Tea Month. Why not get a cup to sip while reading this?
Tea is now the most widely consumed beverage around the world next to water and the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. reports that 80% of U.S. households have tea in them.
Legend has it that tea was accidently discovered over 5000 years ago when some tea leaves blew into a pot of boiling water belonging to a Chinese Emperor who was known as a “Divine Healer.” The flavorful drink was believed to cure a variety of ailments and its use soon spread throughout China and Asia into Europe and the New World. What few tea drinkers could have known then is that the real benefits they received from this simple beverage were due to the purifying effects of boiling the water before drinking it.
Recent studies done on both Black and Green tea provide significant evidence of their health benefits. The naturally occurring compounds in tea leaves called flavonoids hold the key to many of their benefits. Just like the antioxidants found in other fruits and vegetables, the flavonoids in tea have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers while supporting the immune system and bone health. Preliminary research also suggests that drinking tea may have beneficial effects on body weight, fat accumulation and insulin activity.
While researchers continue to study the exact mechanisms by which can tea heal and strengthen our bodies, I prefer to focus on its more ethereal properties. Drinking hot tea has always involved certain rituals for me, and those rituals have comforted me in an otherwise unpredictable world. For instance, when I drink tea:
- Water must boil and a kettle must whistle for me to enjoy a cup of tea. It cannot come from a microwave oven or hot water faucet.
- My tea must be consumed from a bone China cup with a thin lip. No chunky coffee mugs or, heaven forbid, disposable cups, thank you very much.
- Drinking tea makes me sit still, to possibly stare out a window or get lost in my thoughts. No chance to multitask with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot tea.
- Drinking tea is my way to slow down, to recoup, regroup and reflect. Don’t offer me tea if I’m in a hurry, I need time to enjoy it.
Drinking tea makes me feel good. It is a ritual I participate in several times a day and feel so richly rewarded by. And now that it’s Hot Tea Month, I hope you will enjoy it, too.