I always knew that most weight loss programs allow you to drink as much tea as you like, provided no sweetener or dairy is added, since it is a zero calorie and no fat beverage. The surprising news is, in addition to being a refreshing libation, tea provides many health benefits! AND there are several ways to arrive at the final product.
Here are some of the health benefits from tea. These come from drinking black, green or oolong tea, all of which come from the same plant, the leaves are just treated differently for each type of tea. (Some of these benefits are specific to which type of tea you choose.)
- Weight Control - tea apparently increases your calorie burn
- Lower Cholesterol - who knew, right?
- Increased Insulin Activity - I can't pretend to understand this.
- Enhanced Memory - sign me up!
- Protects Against Bone Loss - important as we age
- May help stop the progression of certain cancers -Really? Wow!
- May help prevent cavities - Is there a dentist in the house? Oh, yeah, there is!
The verdict is in, tea is healthy whether you prefer it hot or iced. The Brits cringe at the idea of putting ice in their revered beverage, yet south of the Mason-Dixon line, iced sweet tea is the go to beverage throughout the year, whatever the weather. With all the benefits, and the availability of tea almost anywhere you go, drink up!
There is all sorts of information on-line about how to make perfect iced tea. While it is not rocket science, there are some important tips that will maximize your efforts in making a glass or pitcher.
First the temperature of the water, this depends on the type of tea your are brewing:
Green Tea - Pour the water over the tea before it comes to a boil. The water should be between 150º F and 180º F. In the absence of using a thermometer, you should see tiny bubbles either on the bottom of the pot or rising to the top. Some of the newer electric kettles have temperature controls which make it easy to get the water just right.
Black Tea (English Breakfast, Lipton, Tetley, etc.) - The water should be just below boiling or boiling, which is 212º F. I always bring my water to a full boil, as taught by my mother and my British friend. For my taste, this makes the best tea.
Secondly, the brand you choose and whether you use loose tea or tea bags will affect the flavor of the final beverage. In this house we use Lipton, mainly because it seems to please everyone...and it is easy. (And remember, I am the lazy one!) We do have a selection of herbal teas in the pantry, which are not from the same plant as black and green teas and may not carry the same benefits.
You can choose the cold brew method, but I prefer the hot brew method because I feel like the strength of the final product can be more easily controlled.
Iced Tea (Hot Brew Method for Black Tea)
- 6-8 tea bags or 3-4 Tablespoons loose tea; black tea.
- 2 quarts of water, 8 cups
- Bring the water to a full boil.
- Remove from heat and immediately place your tea bags or loose tea into the pan of water (if you tie the tea bags together, it will be easier to remove them).
- Let the tea steep for 8-12 minutes (depending on the strength you prefer).
- Remove the tea bags or ball from the water.
- Let tea cool before pouring into glass or ceramic pitcher. (The hot beverage can break the pitcher, believe me, I've broken two pitchers this way!)
- If you like your tea pre-sweetened, add sugar while the beverage is warm so it can dissolve fully, about ¾ cup for this amount of tea, or to your taste.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator.
Some Gr8 Brewing Tips:Be sure to remove the tea bags or ball after the allotted time; otherwise, the beverage will become bitter due to the tannins in tea. If you make the tea too strong, all you have to do is add some fresh water!
Some Gr8 Serving Tips:
- If you like to let your guests sweeten their own tea, make a small pitcher of Simple Syrup instead of serving plain sugar. The syrup will dissolve more easily in the cold tea and it is much more charming to serve this way!
- Serve lemon wedges instead of slices, they are easier to squeeze into the tea.
- Offer a pitcher of homemade lemonade alongside the iced tea for a delicious Arnold Palmer!
- Better yet, make some lemonade ice cubes; your beverage won't get watered down and the sweetening and lemon is all-in-one!