Serving and enjoying hot tea is a daily ritual in many countries. Most Brits wouldn’t dream of skipping their 4 p.m. cuppa. Good for them, because black tea contains the FoodTrient catechins, as well as flavonoids, theaflavins, and magnesium. These antioxidants help reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. They protect against certain cancers, help prevent dental cavities, and enhance weight loss by stimulating metabolism. The compounds in black tea also improve blood flow (by strengthening blood-vessel walls), lower blood pressure, and promote artery health while reducing the risk of blood clots. The caffeine in black tea boosts energy and improves concentration.
The Japanese tea ceremony, or The Way of Tea, is a ritual involving powdered green tea (matcha) that dates back over a thousand years. In Japan, green tea is consumed more than black tea. That’s not a bad thing, because green tea has all the antioxidant power of black tea with a little less caffeine. Green tea isn’t fermented like black tea, so it has all the benefits of black tea, plus it shields against environmental toxins.
I love to cook with tea and have created a number of recipes with tea in both of my cookbooks. In my Age GRACEfully Cookbook, try my recipe for Gingerroot Black Tea. Gingerroot provides protection from inflammation to ease arthritis and allergy symptoms. I also have a trick for incorporating green tea in my meals. I boil my soba or udon noodles in green tea instead of just water so that they soak up all that antioxidant power. Then I use them as I normally would—see, for example, my recipe for Green Tea Noodles with Edamame. The noodles don’t take on a strong flavor, but they do absorb vital FoodTrients.
In my newest book, The Age BEAUTIFULLY Cookbook, I have a delicious recipe for Honey-Lemongrass Tea. In this recipe, you use the tough green parts of the herb along with the more edible white portion of the stalks, because you will only steep the plant. Like lemon-grass, honey — especially natural or raw honey — is an antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal food.
For something a little more exotic, you might want to try Jujube Tea. Asians generally steep slices of jujubes in hot water and make a jujube tea. Sometimes they reduce the tea on the stove and add sugar, creating jujube syrup that can be used in other teas. They believe that jujube strengthens the stomach, cleanses the blood, and extends life. They use jujube tea as a sedative and to alleviate stress and heal wounds. Other cultures also recognize jujubes’ benefits. Persians use jujubes to combat colds, flu, and coughing. You can buy them online at Melissas.com
I’m not the only person who likes cooking with tea. Eric R. Braverman, M.D., (www.pathmed.com) author of Younger You, extols green and black tea for their brain-boosting power. In his latest book, Younger (Thinner) You Diet, Dr. Braverman recommends drinking tea with every meal. He says, “Black and green teas are metabolic enhancers that can help you burn calories and body fat.” He loves that tea has absolutely no calories “and can stimulate digestion, cleanse the body, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and give you lots of energy.” He adds, “Green tea may also reduce the absorption of dietary fats by approximately 40% by blocking the production of digestive enzymes that facilitate the absorption of dietary fats. It can also help reduce fat by inhibiting the effects of insulin so that sugars are sent directly to the muscles for instant use, instead of being stored as body fat.”
Dr. Braverman’s book includes a recipe for Jasmine Tea-Infused Brown Rice with Sweet Peas and Duck. He gave me permission to give this recipe to you, my FoodTrient readers.
Jasmine Tea-Infused Brown Rice with Sweet Peas and Duck
This Younger (Thinner) You meal supports all of your brain chemistry. The duck is a precursor to both dopamine and serotonin. Brown rice and peas are high in glutamine, which is necessary to create GABA. Serotonin is enhanced with basil. To top it off, this delicious meal is cooked with nutrient-rich tea.
Serves 8, 400 calories per serving
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup brewed jasmine tea
¼ cup safflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound duck breast, cut into thin strips
2 cups brown rice
2 cups sweet peas
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon coriander
2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into thin strips