Would you like to have a tea party?

My will power apparently decreased over the last few weeks and I gained 2 whole pounds. Now, that’s not much but it is in the wrong direction, so I am getting back on the wagon. The tea wagon.

When I am hungry, drinking water to fill my stomach doesn’t always work. Ok, it never works. It is always a suggestion for others however.  But tea does fill me up, I think it must be the flavor and heat.  If I drink tea and I am still hungry, then I am most likely legitimately hungry. I do have to be careful with caffeine vs. decaf. I seem to have developed a sensitivity to caffeine.

It could be all those years where I drank 2 liters of Diet Coke at a sitting followed by years of coffee swigging. I get what I term “coffee rot”–I know I got that term from somewhere, no idea where or when. After a certain amount of caffeine in my stomach it becomes ill, and putting food in it helps. Not a good plan for the weight loss management.

I can’t drink Diet Coke anymore, I get sick immediately. *sigh* I did love it. And I am limited to 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day, unless I go decaf. Which I will do because I love the flavor and smell of coffee. So if I have hit my limit in coffee, I tend to avoid caffeinated tea. Or I just need to eat with it. Which rather defeats the point of tea as weight management.

There is a lot of talk about the “weight loss properties” of tea. Green tea weight loss pills abound. Green tea added to weight loss foods. Does it work? I have my doubts. But tea does do a lot of good things for us, depending on the type, and mostly works better straight from the tea bag.  Certainly bottled teas have additives like sugar weighing them down, also defeating the purpose of health and weight control.

Antioxidants in tea can be a good reason  alone to swill some.  However, clinical studies have shown that tea can also be a defense against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and perhaps lower cholesterol.* Whatever your reason, tea is always an excellent break time drink. There are several different types with different effects.

1. White Tea: white tea is dried naturally in sunlight, making it one of the least processed. It retains more antioxidants because of this. An added benefit to white tea is that it is thought to  block new fat cells from forming (adipogenesis) and cause fat cell breakdown (lipolysis). I like that idea!

2. Red Tea: Rooibos tea is from a small region in South Africa, made from a “red bush” plant. While the other teas are rather mild in color, red tea is in fact a bright red. Just a few things that red tea can do for you is help prevent stress hormone imbalances linked to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. A flavonoid called Aspalathin is the main reason for these benefits.  One more thing: Rooibos tea can help regulate hunger signals, making it a perfect for an afternoon drink instead of a trip to the break room to scrounge for food.

3. Green Tea: Green tea may be the perfect drink before a workout–it can help burn more calories during your session. However, the study cited had participants drink 4-5 cups of the tea to increase the calorie burn. I don’t mind drinking that much, but it is good to know how much you need to make an effect.  The reason for the increased calorie burn is catechins in the green tea that “blast adipose tissue by revving metabolism, increasing the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly!)”* Yea! Even better, Green tea’s antioxidants help reduce effects of aging and damage, including damage by cancer– “oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants can have a protective effect”**

4. Oolong Tea: face it, oolong is just fun to say. And there are more benefits? Oolong has the same catechins as green, but has  a lighter floral taste for those who don’t like the Green tea. A similar amount would need to be sipped for metabolism increase. It also could possibly be effective for prevention of ovarian cancer, women who drank 2 cups or more a day seemingly decreased the chance of ovarian cancer almost by half.*** Oolong is most often served in Asian restaurants, so there is a very good chance you have had some.

5. Mint Tea: this is actually one of my favorites, particularly at night. Apparently, the scent of peppermint can help suppress your appetite, warding off grazing. It can also be helpful if you have indigestion or nausea. Additionally, it helps produce bile, which breaks down fats in the system for better digestion.  And you get fresh breath too!

In my frenzy to make gifts last Christmas I produced a tea for my family, friends and me.

It was originally a 1-1-1 ratio****, but I played with it until I liked it better. It was a bit too flowery and not enough tea-y for me. This is what I came up with (feel free to play with it yourself):

1 cup loose green tea leaves, 1/2 cup food grade lavender, 1/3 cup chamomile. Mix it together and seal in an airtight container–I used bell jars.  I usually give the jar a good shake before making, just to ensure an even distribution of ingredients.  Steep 1 tbsp tea in 8 oz hot water, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes, take out strainer with leaves and enjoy!


*Much of the information used here came from the “Eat this, not that!” website. While they are more positive about the benefits, please note that I used ‘can’ and ‘may’: don’t think tea can fix all your health problems and stop using your medications!!