What would your life be like without the 1904 World’s Fair? Many of our fun food staples hit the American taste buds at the fair, including the hamburger, hot dog, peanut butter, ice cream cone, cotton candy, and iced tea. During that time, iced tea became a staple of American culture.

Health Benefits

Heart Health and Cancer Risk

There are health protecting properties to plants called phytochemicals.  Research is constantly being done about how different phytochemicals correlate to health and wellness. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, usually called EGCG, is a phytochemical found in high amounts in green tea. EGCG has been linked to decreasing inflammation and better heart health . Researchers have also linked a decreased risk of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer with some of the properties in green tea.

Nutrition

Minerals such as manganese, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and zinc vary by the type of tea you are drinking. Minerals such as phosphorus and calcium help build our bones. Manganese is a component of superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD helps decrease harmful substances in our bodies and damage to our cells.

Hot versus Cold Tea

Temperature and brewing method of the tea does not affect the lovely health components that are expected in hot tea. Here is why:

  •  Hot and cold brewed tea have the same amount of health properties (in the form of antioxidants, catechins and flavonoids).
  • Antioxidant content in iced tea decreases by about 10% a day. When brewing iced tea, we need to try to make batches just big enough to enjoy in the next few days.

How much do I need to drink?

How much tea do I need to drink to get the health benefits?

Green Tea – For green tea benefits, the amount varies depending on your goal: Drinking more than 3 cups a day is correlated with lowering your risk of diabetes. More than five cups of green tea a day can decrease your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 16% and decrease death from any other cause by 16%.  For those concerned with Alzheimers and cognitive function, 3-5 cups a day was helpful for cognitive function in those over 65 years old.

Black Tea – In the US we drink most of our tea from black tea. Since black tea is fermented, it has different nutritional benefits that are not present in green tea. Because of tea’s anti-inflammatory properties, drinking three cups of black tea a day can aid in decreasing stress on the heart and inhibit atherosclerosis . Research suggests that four cups of black tea a day can lower the chances of strokes.

White Tea –  White tea is high in the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine is only found in black, green and white tea (not herbal tea). This appears to have positive effects on mood, performance, and brain health.

Ready to Drink Tea – Is it healthy?

What if you don’t want to brew your own tea? Then you have a couple options: Ready to Drink (RTD) tea or powdered/instant tea. With these two options we do lose health benefits one would expect from tea. For instance, RTD (canned/bottled) tea has the natural antioxidants, catechins, but they are less bioactive than from freshly brewed teas.  Most of the time the RTD teas have as much sugar as a soda does and provides little, if any, of the health benefits you would expect from tea. And instant tea has almost no catechin properties upon consumption.  Although one health website did find that some RTD teas can retain a good amount of antioxidant levels. Sometimes it comes down to the manufacturing processes that are used.

Safety

Do you remember “sun tea”? Tea bags that would sit in water and the hot sun for hours and (if forgotten) overnight. This is not a safe method of brewing tea. Here are 3 safe ways to brew Iced Tea.

Hot Brew/Traditional Method:

Place 2 heaping Tablespoons of loose tea into your pitcher

Add 3 cups hot water

Let steep for 3-5 minutes

Add 6 cups room temperature water (not cold or tea gets cloudy)

Pour tea over ice to serve

Cold brew

Place 2 heaping Tablespoons of loose tea into your pitcher

Add 1 cup hot water

Let steep for 2 minutes

Add 7 cups cold water

Brew in refrigerator for 6-12 hours (overnight)

Remove tea leaves before serving.

Flash chilled/Cocktail method

Create a concentrate by either

  1. a) doubling the amount of leaves you add to hot water or
  2. b) use the same amount of leaves but double the amount of steeping time.

Add hot tea to a cocktail shaker full of ice and pour into a glass of ice.

 

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