Those who tend to get stressed about Christmas might think I’m talking about drinking wine or other adult libations…but actually I’m not.  For sure, wine will be consumed this month; I’m not going on an alcohol hiatus.  But yesterday I was looking for something warm to help me feel better and I realized that we have a ridiculous amount of tea in the cupboard.  Sweetie and I both love tea, which is why we’ve picked up specialty teas at so many different locations.  But we rarely remember to drink it.  Coffee is the required consumable in the morning, and it’s usually a glass of wine in the evening.  So tea gets lost in the shuffle. I decided yesterday that our tea collection needs some attention before it all goes stale.  So I’m making a point of drinking a cup of tea every afternoon in December instead of a second cup of coffee.

Tea is purported to have a lot of great health benefits.  Most of the research has been done on green and white tea, but black tea has some beneficial properties too.  I was checking it out on (of course), and I discovered a few pieces of information that are of particular interest to me.

  1. Drinking black tea can lower stress hormone levels.  When I drink tea, it’s usually black or herbal, so I was happy to see that not all the health benefits belong to green tea.  One study showed that drinking black tea lowered the levels of cortisol in subjects.  It also showed that black tea consumption lowered blood clotting risk factors for heart attacks.  Unfortunately, it was necessary to drink 4 cups per day for six weeks to achieve these results.  I don’t think I’m going to manage to drink that much tea.
  2. Drinking black tea can help prevent cardiovascular disease.   According to another study (if you want all the proper sources, take a look at the Wikipedia article here) just drinking one cup of black tea a day can help to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by improving performance of blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, and lowering arterial stiffness.  I have slightly elevated blood pressure, and my Dad had a heart attack last year, which scared the bejesus (I’ve always wanted to use this non-word in a sentence) out of me, so this is pretty good news.
  3. The caffeine levels in tea are misrepresented.  Yes, it’s true…by weight, dry tea has more caffeine in it than dry coffee does.  But you use a lot more (by weight) coffee beans to make a cup of coffee than tea leaves to make a cup of tea.  So in the finished product, there is WAY more caffeine in a cup of coffee.  You did know that WAY more is a totally measurable amount, right?
  4. Adding milk to tea negates the benefits. Apparently a chemical in milk binds up the chemicals in tea that are good for you, and makes them ineffective.  Now this sucks because I grew up drinking tea the Batswana way – with lots of milk and sugar (see the bottom for a side note about this). I’ve since decreased the sugar drastically, but the only time I like my black tea without milk is when I’m sick and I drink it with lemon and honey instead.  Oh, or as iced tea.  Now apparently adding citrus to tea increases the benefits, so that’s good news.  But I don’t think I want to give up my milky tea altogether.

My Baby Sister is an avid tea drinker.  She goes to tea festivals.  She doesn’t drink a drop of coffee ever.  She’ll probably live longer than the rest of us, and not just because she’s already younger.  I hope she comments with additional wisdom she has about tea.  🙂

Where this leaves me is that I’m going to try to make a dent in our tea stash this month. Today I’m sick with a cold, so I had two cups of lemon ginger tea with honey. Mmmm, so good. I’m going to try each and every variety we have, and if they suck, I’m getting rid of them to make room for nicer tea.   I might mention my teasploits on the blog again.

Personal Blogging Challenge

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now; it was a 2011 New Year’s resolution.  I’m so glad I started and have no intention of stopping any time soon.  So I thought it might be fun to end 2011 with a bang, and blog every day in December.  I don’t have a very good track record of sticking to things that I have to do every day…well, with the exception of brushing my teeth.  But I’ve decided to do it.  Some days, you may not get much, but unless I’m hospitalized or stranded on a desert island somewhere, there will be something.

Side notes about Botswana

  1. The people of Botswana are called Batswana (like people from Canada are called Canadians) – I didn’t misspell this earlier.
  2. My family lived in Botswana for eight years while my parents were missionaries there.  Maybe that’s something you’d like to hear about?  Comment and let me know.
  3. While we were there, we had a house keeper/nanny named Esther who took good care of us and fed us sweet milky bush tea, which you might know as roibos.  When I tasted it again for the first time as an adult, I suddenly missed her like crazy.  I hadn’t had any contact with her since we left Botswana in 1986, but she died of AIDS (a huge problem in Africa) several years ago and I’ll never get to tell her how much she meant to me.  I hope she knew.