One of the oldest and most beloved beverages, tea is the world’s second most popular drink right after water. Seen as both luxurious and essential for thousands of years, it retains an enduring popularity amongst the masses today.
It is more sought-after than coffee in several places, with black tea being the most preferred type by a large margin. However, tea is not only just a soothing hot beverage anymore; studies suggest that drinking tea on a regular basis has several health benefits in the long run.
In a world where keeping fit and healthy is a must, tea is proving to be both a delicious and nutritional necessity for your diet. Coming in a variety of flavors and tastes, it makes sense tea can be seen as a very versatile ingredient for cooking, and thus, a staple for every home.
It’s All in the Tea Leaves
When it was first discovered in China, it was thought to be strictly a medicinal beverage. Recent studies conducted by researchers show that there might be some truth to this old-world idea. One in particular suggests that tea may not only be beneficial in hydration, but it may also be a better choice as a daily drink.
Led by Dr. Carrie Ruxton of Kings College London, this team of researchers found that drinking about 3 cups of tea per diem could be a superior habit than drinking water. According to Dr. Ruxton, simply “drinking… water is essentially [just] replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it's got two things going for it.”
Dr. Ruxton and her team are not alone in these discoveries. Over the years, science has found several advantages associated with drinking tea on a regular basis. Polyphenol antioxidants, one of tea’s main ingredients, are believed to help against heart disease and some cancers. These antioxidants help in preventing cell damage and can drastically reduce the chances of a heart attack.
The type of tea you drink can also have more specific health benefits. All kinds of teas have different advantages to them. For instance, researchers from the University College of London have found that drinking 4 cups a day of black tea results to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Meanwhile, green tea has shown to be helpful in protecting the liver from toxic substances like alcohol. Men in particular have shown to be less likely to have liver problems from consuming more than 10 cups a day according to population-based clinical studies. Green tea has also shown to possibly help in weight loss for increasing metabolism. This is because it contains catechins, which are thought to aid in burning fat.
Teas of all kinds have shown to improve you overall well being, so it follows that including it in your everyday diet would be great for you in the long run.
When it comes to drinking tea, homemade is best. According to Professor Shiming Li, “consumers understand very well the concept of the health benefits from drinking tea or consuming other tea products,” but they note, “there is a huge gap between the perception that tea consumption is healthy and the actual amount of the healthful nutrients… found in bottled tea beverages. Our analysis of tea beverages found that the polyphenol content is extremely low.”
This is because simply buying any kind of tea will not do, as commercially bottled tea contains up to 20 times less polyphenols than its home-brewed counterparts. Consumers should be wary of these commercial alternatives, as they also contain large amounts of sugar. So if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy as well, stick to making your own batch of tea.
Investing in home-brewed tea isn’t just beneficial for average tea drinkers. A personal stock of some loose-leaf teas or prepackaged tea bags can also be used for savory dishes and delicious desserts. This is especially ideal for those who don’t really enjoy a steaming hot cup to sip on. Don’t believe me? These following recipes are perfect for those non-believers to try and see what we mean.
With the tons of health benefits associated with drinking tea, and having proven to be useful in being a tasty ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been using it more in the first place. Guaranteed.
Black Tea Shish Kebabs
This recipe is for 4 servings, and has a preparation time of 30 minutes. You will need about 4 tea bags or about 6 grams of black tea, 1 cup of boiling water, 1 lb. of beef cut into kebab chunks, (chicken or lamb may also be used for this), 1 red or yellow pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 medium red onion, ½ to 1 pound of button mushrooms (depending on your preference), 1 lemon that has been juiced, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 clove of garlic (minced), salt and pepper to taste, and 4 shish kebab of bamboo skewers.
First, remove water from pot and steep the tea bags or the tealeaves in the water for 5 minutes. Squeeze and remove tea bags, then stir in lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the meat and marinate for 1 hour. While this is marinating, chop the vegetables up into chunks roughly about 25 mm x 50 mm in size. Halve the mushrooms as well. When the meat, and vegetables are ready, assemble them onto the skewers by alternating the ingredients. You can barbeque these on a grill, or cook them in an oven. Be sure to turn the skewers constantly and frequently brush remaining marinade on kebabs.
Nutty Jasmine Rice
This recipe goes great with the black tea shih kebabs. Much like the previous one, this makes for 4 servings, and has a preparation time of 25 minutes. You will need 3 tea bags or about 4.5 grams of jasmine tea, 3 cups boiling water and another ¼ cup of water at room temperature, 1 ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of uncooked Basmati rice, 1 teaspoon of crushed saffron, ¼ cup of cashews, ¼ cup of pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon of thyme, 1 tablespoon of butter, and yogurt for serving (this is optional).
Steep the tea in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Afterwards, squeeze and remove tea bags from the brewed tea. Stir in the 1 teaspoon of oil, the salt and the rice. Stir everything together, cover the mixture, and cook the rice for about 10 minutes. In another container, steep the saffron in the ¼ cup of water that is at room temperature for about 5 minutes.
Pour this mix over the rice, stir once again, and cook it for another 5 minutes or until the grains are tender and soft throughout. While you are waiting for this, fry the nuts in a frying pan with the rest of the oil until they are golden in color and be sure not to burn them. Put rice on plate and mix the nuts, chopped parsley, thyme, and butter into the rice. Serve with yogurt, if desired.
This recipe is for 8 servings, and has a preparation time of at least 3 hours. If you are making this for a dinner party, its best to make it the day before as you can refrigerate it for later use. It should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.
Also, the container you are using should snuggly fit about 4 of your ladyfingers side by side. To make this, you will need 5 tea bags or about 7.5 grams of chai tea, ¾ cup of boiling water, 2 egg yolks, 8 tablespoons of white sugar, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 1 cup of mascarpone cheese, 2 teaspoons spiced rum, 1 tablespoon cognac, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, 12 ladyfingers, butter or vegetable spray for greasing, and ½ cup of bittersweet chocolate shavings for garnish.
First, remove water from pot and steep the tea in the water for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bags or leaves then add spiced rum, cognac and about 2 tablespoons of sugar to tea.
Next, grease the container on the bottom and the sides to prevent tiramisu from sticking. Be sure to only apply a thin layer of either butter or vegetable spray; you don’t want your dessert to have a heavy taste of this.
Carefully dip 4 ladyfingers into chai tea mix and line the bottom of the container with a singular and even layer of the dipped ladyfingers. Beat the yolks, 2 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Fold this into the mascarpone cheese until the mix is smooth.
Add 1/3 of creamy cheese mix on top of the ladyfingers layer. Be sure that the mix is smooth and even on all sides. Mix the cinnamon, cocoa powder, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar well. Sprinkle a third of this mix evenly on creamy cheese layer. Dip another 4 pieces of the ladyfingers into the chai tea mix and place evenly onto the cheese layer. Repeat previous steps to create the layered dessert.
For the toppings, sprinkle the bittersweet chocolate shavings on top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving, but preferably leave in the fridge overnight.
Let us know what you think in the comment section below.