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Mix Things Up with Tea

Tea is more versatile than you may think. Not only is it a tasty way to wake up in the morning or keep you chugging along in the afternoon, tea can also be used in cocktails, for health reasons, and to just relax. This holiday season, mix things up with tea.

holiday tea

Tea for Health

We've briefly discussed the health benefits of tea before. As tea is studied more, we are finding more healthful reasons for including it in our diet. It is generally considered that tea encompasses black tea, green tea, white tea, and oolong tea. These all derive from the Camellia sinensis plant. In addition to caffeine, which can positively affect alertness and awareness, these teas all contain flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants that can help our bodies against free radicals which can potentially cause clogged arteries, heart disease, and even cancer.

Black tea, which contains the highest amount of caffeine, has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke as well as protect the lungs from cigarette smoke. Black tea has also shown a possible reduction in inflammation.

Green tea has been shown to limit the growth of cancer in the breast, lung, bladder, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract. It has also been shown to prevent clogged arteries, can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, reduce stroke and cholesterol levels, and burn fat. It may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and could even help reduce bad breath.

White tea has properties to counteract the effects of cancer.

Oolong tea has been shown to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol.

Jasmine tea, typically green tea with jasmine, has been known to lower stress and calm the nerves. It might help reduce cervical cancer cells while also protecting the body's cells from damage due to aging.

For years, chamomile tea has been used at bedtime to help with restlessness and promote sleep. Chamomile tea has antioxidants that may help with loss of vision as well as nerve and kidney damage from diabetes. It may also slow the growth of cancer cells. Chamomile may help to stimulate the immune system, be beneficial for premenstrual syndrome symptoms in women, help with anxiety, and decrease the mortality risk in Hispanic women over 65.

Many of us know peppermint tea can help with digestion and have used it to relieve the symptoms of an upset stomach. It can help reduce bloating as well. Peppermint tea might even help those with disorders of the esophagus to swallow so they can eat better.

Rooibos red tea is still being studied but may have cancer-fighting properties and may protect the liver.

Hibiscus and rosehips have been shown to reduce blood pressure when taken in higher amounts.

Cocktails, Both With and Without Alcohol

It might be surprising to learn that tea makes a great cocktail. Whether or not you add alcohol to the drinks, tea-based cocktails are a tasty drink to enjoy when you're relaxing. Here are a couple of cocktails and alcohol-free cocktails to try.

Hot Toddy

There are many versions of the hot toddy. This one is more of a cocktail than the cure for the common cold. Regardless, it's tasty.

INGREDIENTS

6 ounces water
1 1/4 tsp black tea
1/2 inch piece of vanilla bean
1/4 tsp black peppercorn
3 ounces milk
1 1/2 ounce bourbon
1 tbsp sugar
cinnamon stick, garnish
ground cinnamon, garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Bring 6 ounces of water to a boil and remove from heat. Add tea, vanilla bean, and peppercorns to a tea ball or a linen bag and steep in the hot water for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove the tea ball or linen bag. Add half of the brewed tea to a small saucepan. Add the milk, bourbon, and sugar. Heat over a low flame until the sugar dissolves, around 5 minutes. Pour into a mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Green Tea Highball

This chilled tea cocktail is sure to refresh on a winter's eve.

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces green tea, steeped and cooled
2 ounces Japanese whisky
club soda
maple leaf candy, garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

In a highball glass filled with ice, add the tea and whisky. Stir to combine. Top with club soda and garnish with the maple leaf candy.

Berry Berry Spice

This wintry mocktail is just the right combination of juicy and spicy.

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp Berry Berry Tisane
4 ounces water
3 pumps blood orange syrup
2 pumps ginger syrup
carbonated water, splash
frozen raspberries, garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat. Add the Berry Berry Tisane and let steep for 5 minutes. Allow the brew to cool then pour into a rocks glass filled with ice. Add the syrups and stir. Top with carbonated water and garnish with raspberries.

Use your favorite teas and tisanes to create your own holiday creations.

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