Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tea: Fall In Love with Hot Leaf Juice!

By Ryanneal on Deviant Art

When I started my weight loss journey, one of the first things I did to motivate myself while working out was to re-watch every episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender on the elliptical machine. There are so many wonderful things about the show and I get something new from it every time I watch it. 

When it comes to inspirational quotes, Uncle Iroh has always been a favorite of mine, but one of his most defining qualities (aside from pure badassery) is his adoration of tea! In the past few months, I have learned to fall in love with it too and now it's an absolute staple in my daily diet.

I've always been a huge coffee and soda drinker my whole life but for the first month or so of my diet, I really wanted to cut those things out so that I could detox on the caffeine and all of the sugar and aspartame I was ingesting.

As time went on, however, I found myself really missing my morning hit of caffeine. I did eventually go back to having a small cup of coffee with skim milk and Splenda, but eventually I started looking into tea because I can take it with our without milk depending on what my diet plan looks like for the day so far, whereas with coffee, I hate to drink it black. My main goal was to get caffeine into my system and to obtain a go-to "liquid" snack with minimal negative impact on my diet. 

There are many different types of tea and they all have varying benefits. My focus was on green and black teas- Green because of what I've heard about it encouraging fat burn and preventing diabetes (not to mention it may prevent several forms of cancer), and black because it's a great morning option since it's the highest caffeinated tea. Black tea might not have as much caffeine as coffee or soda, but it has been proven to have a more specific effect on mental focus rather than general frenetic energy. Not only does it boost metabolism, but it also protects your lungs from second hand smoke exposure, contains antioxidants that lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease, and helps prevent ovarian, prostate, lung, stomach, and breast cancer. Did I mention Black tea also strengthens your bones and boosts your immune response to keep you from getting sick?

Obviously, my conclusion, like Uncle Iroh, was to start drinking ALL THE TEA. There's a lot of teas out there, so I've taken some of the guess work out of it by selecting some of my favorite discoveries to share with you! 
  • Celestial Seasonings Decaf Green Tea with White Tea
    • Decaffeinated green tea, decaffeinated white tea and Vitamin C.
      • This was the best simple green tea I found. It's decaf, making it a great option for the evening or for anyone who's avoiding caffeine. It is a little more full bodied then what I typically drink in Japanese restaurants. I found it best pure and unsweetened. Not my favorite overall, but if you're just looking to drink straight green tea, this is a great option.
  • Celestial Seasonings Sleeptytime Vanilla
    • Chamomile, spearmint, west indian lemongrass, natural french vanilla flavor, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn and rosebuds.
      • I bought this specifically to help me wind down before bed. I find vanilla very soothing and drinking this tea with a little bit of stevia or honey is perfection. I added milk a few times and it sort of destroyed the layers of herbal flavors, so that's an option, but definitely not necessary.
  • Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea
    • Decaffeinated green tea, spiked with peppermint
      • A friend at work turned me onto this. This tea is seasonal and she had some left over and now I'm hoarding the few bags she gave me because it's so delicious. The mint is gentle as is the green tea taste and it's decaffeinated making it a great before bed option. I don't even need sugar. Just some stevia or honey. Is it Christmas yet so I can buy more?
  • Twining's Pure Mint
    • Black tea, peppermint leaves, spearmint leaves
      • This is my favorite black mint tea. Like the name suggests, it's fresh and crisp. I enjoy it with stevia or honey, but if I'm trying feel warm, cozy and comforted, a touch of milk makes all the difference!
  • Twinings Ultra Spiced Chai
    • Black tea, natural Chai, cinnamon & ginger flavors with other natural flavors, cardamom, clove
      • I had never tried Chai before, but after chatting with a barista friend, realizing how much I loved cinnamon and how much I was craving the richness that I used to find in coffee, I bought some of this. It is to DIE FOR! There are so many layers to the taste, especially if you let it steep for over 6 minutes. I drink this with milk and stevia almost every morning.
  • Twining's French Vanilla Chai
    • Black tea, natural Chai, cinnamon & ginger flavors with other natural flavors, artificial vanilla flavor, cardamom, clove, vanilla pod powder.
      • I loved the Ultra Spiced Chai so much that I bought this variety as well for a more desert-like taste. It has all the richness of the previous tea with the gentle aromatic overtone of vanilla. Settling down with a cup of this mixed with milk and stevia whilst watching reruns of Star Trek: TNG has become the perfect way of restoring sanity at the end of stressful day at work. 
  • Twining's Spiced Apple Chai
    • Black tea, natural apple, Chai, cinammon & ginger flavors with other natural flavors, cardamom, clove
      • Wondering if I would enjoy Chai without milk, I bought this variety. I had some apple tea whilst visiting Turkey some time ago and have never found anything that quite lived up to it here in the USA- until NOW! The apple taste is really great and almost caramel-like when you add stevia, though I think honey would probably taste great as well. 
Those are my top picks! I'd love to hear about your favorite teas in the comments.

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