Tea Time

Refreshing, and good for you

By Karen Frye

Here in the South, drinking tea is almost a birthright. The good news for us tea (and sweet tea) lovers is that a recent study from the University of California in Irvine School of Medicine revealed that two catechin-type flavonoids found in both green and black tea activate a process in the body that relaxes the blood vessels. This discovery could be helpful in the treatment of hypertension. So, enjoy your glass of tea; just be careful of the amount of sugar you use to sweeten it — or maybe use honey or stevia instead.

There are a few other teas that can quench your thirst on these hot summer days. Yerba mate is a lovely tea with similar benefits as green and black teas. The tree where the tea leaves are found is a species of holly found deep in the rainforests of South America. The leaves are hand-harvested by farmers in indigenous communities in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Yerba mate contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee (about 85 mg), but a little more than a cup of black tea.

Just like black and green teas, yerba mate is rich in antioxidants. It also has 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and abundant polyphenols to slow down the aging process. Some of the benefits of this superfood tea are increasing energy and mental focus, boosting the immune system, and lowering blood sugar and heart disease risks. Yerba mate nourishes while it stimulates. 

Hibiscus tea is a caffeine-free tea that is as delicious as iced tea. Its lovely rosy color is reminiscent of Kool-Aid. Children will find it a delicious drink as well. Hibiscus flowers are from the hibiscus plant, but not the ornamental variety that we see blooming in the summer.

Here is a simple recipe for an energizing, cold-brewed tea on sweltering summer days:

3 tablespoons loose leaf black tea (or 5 tablespoons yerba mate or hibiscus flowers)

6 cups cool water

3 tablespoons honey or to taste

1 lemon, sliced

Add the loose leaf tea and cool water to a large jar or tea pitcher. Stir to mix well. Seal the jar or pitcher and refrigerate 12 hours. When ready to serve, strain the tea into another container and add the honey and lemon slices.

Enjoy your delicious and healthful beverage.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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