Of my recent travels, London stands out as one of my favorites. After all, what’s not to love about a place that makes an event out of tea in the afternoon? Tea is a passion of mine, one that fits very well into my fitness journey. My tea love affair started many years ago when I used a cup in the morning to help me break my diet Coke habit. As I explored different varieties of tea I came to appreciate its taste and the other benefits to my overall well being. If your only experience with tea is of the sweet variety or a bag of Lipton let me give you some tips on how to add tea for wellness to your fitness journey.
There are basically two types of tea: those derived from the Camellia sinensis plant (black, green, white, oolong or pu-erh) and herbal teas (herbal infusions). Unless otherwise indicated, all of the Camellia sinesis plant derived teas have caffeine. Herbal teas generally do not (yerba mate is an exception to this rule). Whole leaf teas are better quality than cut leaf. You’ll find cut leaf in most tea bags so I recommend purchasing a tea strainer and go with whole leaf where possible.
Not sure where to start with your tea sampling? Here are my top five teas for your good health:
- Green tea gets a lot of credit as a fat burner. Its real benefit may be, however, in helping those with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. A recent meta analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed green may have favorable effects on glucose control and insulin sensitivity. My favorite kind of green tea is jasmine. Try the Organic Jasmine Green from Samovar Tea Lounge for a real treat.
- I love a hot cup of pu-erh tea first thing in the morning. It’s a bold tea, making it a nice alternative for coffee drinkers. Plus it might do good things for your cholesterol. According to WebMD, pu-erh tea naturally contains small amounts of a compound called lovastatin, which is found in prescription cholesterol lowering drugs. A cup or two a day could help lower your triglycerides and LDL. Just don’t stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor first! I get my pu-erh (a variety called Scottish Caramel) at Tea Drops in Kansas City MO. If you don’t live in the area, they do ship.
- Black tea does have caffeine but there is some evidence it can actually help lower blood pressure. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure from consuming black tea daily. A chocolate black tea can also be a great way to satisfy a chocolate craving. I brought home the Chocolate Coconut tea from Maui Rainbow Tea after our fit adventure on the island of Maui. Divine!
- Peppermint tea is an easy way to sooth an upset stomach. It can also be a useful tool in dealing with morning sickness during pregnancy. Look for a product that is 100% peppermint leaves. My own local health food store sells a peppermint tea in their bulk spice section. Check yours for the same.
- Are you stressed out and having trouble sleeping? A cup of hot tea with herbs like chamomile or valerian can help. Plus the act of stopping, breathing and sipping tea can have it’s own relaxing effect. In an exception to my tea bag rule, try Yogi Bedtime tea to help promote a better night’s sleep.
Are you a tea drinker? What’s your brew of choice and how does it help bring balance and wellness into your life?
January 31st, 2014