Its Time For Green Tea!

green teaAs the weather starts to warm up more and more I find myself switching from darker warmer teas over to lighter more refreshing teas. I drink way more green tea and white tea in the spring and summer than I do in the winter or late fall. To me, dark teas are meant to warm you up, they just get inside you and start heating up every limb until you aren’t cold anymore. But green tea(or white tea) has this ability to refresh you and fill you with energy, that’s why I love drinking it on a hot summer day. Plus, it makes an awesome iced tea too!

Some other uses I’ve found for green tea is making a simple syrup out of it and using it in my summertime cocktails. It’s really easy to do too! Just brew a cup or two of really strong green tea, and stir in an equal amount of sugar while it’s still warm. You can use this mixture to sweeten lots of things, but I mainly use it in cocktails because it’s easier than trying to stir grainy sugar into a cold drink. I’m sure there are plenty of other creative ways of using it though.

Recently I’ve also taken to using white tea or green tea as base for smoothies. It adds an interesting flavor to the fruit blends and I just love it. The tea flavor takes the back seat and becomes more of an after taste of the juicy sweet fruit that you use. These are great for pool parties or BBQs because you can make it in batches and hand it out to people.

How do you like to use green tea? Do you have any particular tea that you prefer to drink in the summer? If you’re into baking, maybe you could try out these green tea muffins? I have that recipe saved for this fall, but if you try it out, let me know how it turns out!

Health Benefits & Myths of Drinking Tea

Drinking tea comes with several health benefits, but there are also just as many myths or un-proven claims that so many people think are true because they believe everything they’re told. It’s true, tea is good for you, if it wasn’t then people wouldn’t still be drinking it after 4000 and some odd years. However, some companies claim that their teas have benefits like “anti cancer” or “guaranteed weight loss”, and these claims aren’t true, or at least they are proven to be. The FDA did a study on green tea in 2005 to test it’s effects on cancer, but the results were that it has no effect on the cancer at all. Some also claim that it can prevent cancer, but the outcome is the same. Although green tea can help you shed a very small amount of weight for a very short period of time, it’s effects are nil after that. I can honestly say that I have been drinking tea basically forever, and I have never lost any weight because of it.

Green tea does have several things that ARE helpful to you though, it’s packed with anti-oxidants hydrates the body, it can flush out impurities and give you more energy. But it’s benefits stop at that. Still though, drinking a cup of tea a day for the long term can definitely help you. Plus it’s delicious!

There are some other concerning things about tea that any regular tea lover should know. Tea contains flouride because of environmental pollution, ingesting too much flouride can increase your risk of osteofluorosis and fractures. There isn’t a large amount of flouride in tea, and the exact amount depends largely on the type and quality of the tea, but you wouldn’t start to see negative effects unless you are drinking a lot of tea everyday. A few cups a day won’t harm you. Flouride is present in almost all water supplies so you can’t avoid it completely.

Another thing that is commonly found in tea is Aluminum. You would have to consume a huge amount of aluminum in order for it to become toxic, but it’s still good to know what it is you’re putting into your body.

By no means am I trying to talk anyone out of drinking tea, I think it’s an amazing thing and everyone should enjoy it. But don’t buy it or drink it for the wrong reasons, and don’t believe everything you read on packaging. It’s important to do your own research and make sure what you’re consuming is okay for you.  For more information on the health effects of tea, check out this Wikipedia page.

Thanks for reading! Share this info, it’s important!

Chamomile Tea Makes Me Fall Asleep

And I mean the middle of the afternoon can’t stay awake kind. It’s awful, mostly because I love the stuff. Does this happen to anyone else? The health benefits of chamomile tea are so vast that I can’t help but drink it up, but I always seem to crave it during the day and not a night. Weird.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about all of the awesome ways to prepare chamomile tea. Variety is the spice of life, right? So here are some options for the next time you’re looking to enjoy a cup of this stuff:chamomile tea

  • Try adding a dash of cinnamon while the tea steeps, it really gets the aromas going and makes the tea even more relaxing.
  • Chill it and serve it over ice. I like to add a tiny bit of agave nectar when I drink it this way. I know, it’s not exactly a tea that sounds like it would be good cold, but trust me. It’s good.
  • Good ol’ lemon and honey is great!
  • Try tossing in a bit of orange zest during steeping, it’s delicious!

Some other things you can do to make sure keep your chamomile tea tasting great is make sure you’re steeping it correctly, use boiling water and steep for 3-6 minutes. If it’s too strong, then adjust the amount of time for the next cup. It’s also important to use a high quality tea, if you’re using crap to start out with then it’s obvious the end product will be crap too. Most of all, just make it yours! The best thing about tea is that you can make it exactly how you like it, even if the tea snobs say you can’t ;-)

I hope this has helped spark a few ideas in you for your next cup of chamomile tea. Do you have any other ways of making it? Please share! I’ll reply once I get back from my nap after finishing off this cup! haha

Brewing Oolong Tea Correctly

When I first started my tea journey I was anxious to try oolong tea because all I ever read about was how good it was and now it was the best of the loose leaf teas. So of course being the eager 17 year old that I was, I jumped right into it having no idea what I was doing(did I mention I was also very stubborn? haha).  I’m sure it goes without saying, but I was definitely less than satisfied with my results. Since I had no idea how to brew oolong tea or what the different kinds were, my cups were bitter and flavor-less. I gave up on oolong for a long time until years later when I was more experienced and had learned how to brew different teas properly. Now it’s one of my favorite teas and I’ve got it down to a science.

So this post is for all of the other people out there who just want to love oolong tea but haven’t gotten the results they want out of it yet. Brewing this tea isn’t too difficult, it just requires a little trial and error to get your water temperature and steeping time right. Depending on how oxidized your blend is it might need hotter or cooler water or a longer or shorter steeping session. Sounds frustrating and like wasting a bunch of tea, I know, but the great thing about these teas is that they can be re-steeped several times so you can always just try again with the same leaves!

Personally, I like the darker oolongs, and I’ve found what works best for me is bringing my water to a boil and then turning the heat off and letting it sit for about 2 minutes, and then pouring it over the leaves. I steep for 3 minutes and it comes out perfect every time. I found this Youtube video that explains how to do it pretty well and also gives you a nice background on oolong and the different types. I’ll also include it below in case you prefer to watch it here:

One thing I like to do that isn’t included in the video is to warm up the pot first by rinsing it out with the hot water, I also give the leaves a quick rinse in the hot water to help wake them up. Then I steep. If you try this you’ll likely get better results too. I don’t add anything to mine either, I just drink it straight, the flavors oolong has on it’s own are so wonderful!

I hope this helps you on your tea journey, I know I wish I would have known this stuff so many years ago, I could have been enjoying this stuff but instead I was too busy being stubborn! haha Let me know how it turns out for you =) Please share this with your friends!

Awesome Sweet Tea Recipe

Sweet TeaSweet tea isn’t as popular in Pittsburgh as it is in the South, but sometimes we still get a craving for it and since it’s kind of hard to find in stores and restaurants usually don’t serve it, I’m going to give you my very simple recipe for it right here. This will make a pretty big batch so feel free to cut it in half or whatever you gotta do. All you need is some tea bags, water, and sugar and you’re good to go.

Before I get started, the reason I do it this way is because it’s quicker than boiling a huge pot of water, but you will get the same results in much less time so I suggest you give it a try. =) First, bring 6 of cups of water to a boil on the stove, then turn off the heat and drop in 12 tea bags. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes or so, then remove the tea bags and stir in 1.5 to 2 cups of sugar and dissolve. Lastly, add 6 cups of cold water to a pitcher and then pour in your concentrated tea mixture. If you’re afraid of cracking your pitcher with the warm liquid, then leave it to cool for a little while before adding it to a pitcher.  Voila! You have sweet tea! You may have to adjust your sweetness level to your liking, but I’ve found the amount of sugar mentioned get’s pretty good results.

You can use any tea bags for this, I usually just grab the 100 count bag of orange pekoe from Walmart, but Lipton or any other brand will work too. You could even try using green tea or squeezing in some lemon to mix things up. I love these iced tea recipe ideas, if you’re looking for something different then you’ll love them too. They aren’t sweet tea but you can add extra sugar to anything, right? haha

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for reading! Please share it with your friends =)