Thursday, February 26, 2009

Steeping Your Tea the "Right" Way

I get interesting questions about tea every day: "Where is tea grown?" "How much caffeine does it have?" "Is it healthy?" Occasionally, I’ll get a particularly fun one: “Is it OK if I bob my tea bag up and down while it’s steeping?” (Yes, baby, bob away.)

By far the most common question is about the “right” steeping time for various teas. Of course, there are some general guidelines you can follow: 5-6 minutes for black tea, 3-5 minutes for green tea, and 2-3 minutes for white tea and herbal teas.

Really, though, such guidelines are just a starting point. As I always love to say, tea drinking is an experience. More accurately, though, tea drinking is your experience. If you prefer a 6 minute steep time for your green tea . . . well, then, 6 minutes is the "right" steeping time.

Whenever you try a new tea, spend some time experimenting with different steeping times. Eventually you will find the perfect balance of flavor and astringency for you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Get well soon, baby!

The truth is, I haven't been feeling so well. And I'm guessing that there are several of you out there who have fallen victim to cold and flu season. I know that, even when we're feeling well, hydration is critical to regulating body temperature and functions. And I've been told repeatedly by my doctor that it's doubly important when we're sick.

So, I've really been doing my part this time, sipping countless bowls of soup and (of course) many, many cups of tea. Then, in the midst of all that sipping, I got to wondering whether the the temperature of these hydrating liquids mattered.

Weirdly coincidentally, the New York Times just published an article on January 26, 2009 answering this very question. Anahad O'Connor reported a recent study finding at the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University in Britain: there is a benefit to hot beverages vs. drinks at room temperature. According to the researchers, "[t]he hot drink provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness . . . whereas the same drink at room temperature only provided relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing."

Well, I'm sold. Load up on some piping hot tea with me, and let's get well soon, baby!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tea Research Update

World Tea News reported a study indicating that tea drinking may decrease the risk of breast cancer. The study, conducted at the Moffitt Cancer Center, was published in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The research team observed that participants who consumed three or more cups of tea per day had a "37 percent reduced breast cancer risk when compared with women reporting no tea consumption."

Though research must continue to occur in order to support the many and varied health claims related to tea, it's nevertheless striking that positive research results are pouring in from all over the globe. I think we're just beginning to understand what a truly amazing plant this is. So, drink up, baby!