All the buzz lately in the dietary world are ‘superfoods’; think acai berry, coconut water, quinoa, kale, etc.  Even though superfood is a term coined by a genius marketing team and has no legal/medical definition, it is used to describe foods that are nutrient dense with tons of vitamins and antioxidants.  Many superfoods are thought to be fads but the one tried and true superfood, or drink rather, is Green Tea.   Since I’m no expert, I won’t bore you with all of the science backed evidence that shows Green Tea improves brain function and heart health, aides weight loss, lower cholesterol and may reduce the risk of cancer, Alzeihmer’s and Parkinson’s.  If you want to look further into the benefits, you can read more here or here.

I didn’t start drinking Green Tea until after my leukemia diagnosis, go figure.  Not saying that it would’ve prevented it but it would have been a good habit to have implemented into my regimen earlier.  I haven’t loved Green Tea from first sip — it’s been quite the love/hate relationship.  I’ve tried my fair share of bottled, store bought (think Starbucks) and home brewed teas.  When you fail you must try, try again.  There has been a learning curve, however, I have found some really great teas in the process. Since I am still new to the Green Tea scene, I figured might as well share my learning woes.  I guess that it is the purpose of this whole blogging thing, eh? This is my how-to learn to love Green Tea for the novice tea drinker. (Note: All products that I’m mentioning, are products I love and use myself.  These are not money makers, unfortunately!)

Tip #1: Stay away from bottled Green Teas (…but if you must, buy unsweetened only!)

As a rule, I would stay away from bottled Green Tea all together.  Would you prefer a bottled coffee over freshly brewed?  Nope, didn’t think so.  Not to mention you have no control of all of the other crap companies add to it to make it taste better.  When I was first trying to incorporate Green Tea in my daily routine, we were at Dana Farber in Boston and went to the cafe to grab a quick lunch after a procedure.  I grabbed an Honest Honey Green Tea thinking I was making a good decision since I didn’t feel like water (if you know me, this is an absurd thing for me to say… I always have water on me).  I sit down, take a sip and said ‘Wow, that is really delicious.’ Note to self: Green Tea by itself is a bit bitter and grassy. If it tastes too good to be true, it probably is.  Sure enough, a whopping 19g of sugar! Nothing like wiping out all of the benefits of Green Tea if your drinking nearly your entire days worth of sugar consumption on a single drink?! If it says it is sweetened or has honey, put the bottle down and walk away! Try Honest ‘Just’ Green Tea (pictured below)

tea1 Tip #2: Buy a better quality Green Tea

You can try Lipton teas all day long but when it comes to Green Tea, the higher quality is worth it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Lipton Tea (the Peach Mango black tea is delish); but spend a few extra dollars on a better quality… Trust me!  It’ll be worth it.  My favorite is Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical.  I actually found this when it was on sale at The Fresh Market.  It is smooth and not very bitter.  There are notes of the tropical fruits but it’s not overpowering.  This is the perfect intro to Green Tea. Buy it here. Now I know tea snobs (you know who you are) are rolling their eyes at this recommendation but this is a beginner’s guide!  Also, many would suggest buying a fresh, loose leafed Green Tea to get the optimal benefits but I think that is a bridge to cross once we’ve conquered the basics.

Tip #3: Drink it iced

I suggest drinking Green Tea iced if you haven’t really learned to love the taste yet.  This may be exclusive to South Florida given it is always hot out and we love our iced beverages.  Brew tea according to instructions but add one extra teabag per cup; this is important since ice will water the tea down.  If it is still too bitter for your liking and you must sweeten….

Tip #4: Use an unrefined sugar or raw, local honey 

I love using just a teaspoon or two of unrefined Coconut Sugar in my Iced Green Tea.  Coconut Sugar has a lower glycemic index so it does not affect blood sugar levels like white cane sugar (sucrose) does.  However, it is still a sweetener which has a high caloric content and contains fructose so should be used sparingly.  It is expensive so I would consider trying a sample before purchasing 3-1lb. bags on Amazon, like myself!  You can buy small samples of Coconut Sugar here.

Raw, local honey can also be used to sweeten your Green Tea.  The benefit of raw, local honey is since it contains pollen from your specific area, it is said to help with seasonal allergies.  Talk about a plus!  I’ll have to test that theory out on my friend Jess who has terrible allergies.  Raw honey, like the name suggests, is not pasteurized, heated or processed in any way so it could be dangerous to a person with immune deficiencies like myself. Food for thought!  Learn where to find honey from your area here.

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Tip #5:  Make large batches of tea 

When I started drinking Iced Green Tea on a daily basis, I was also brewing tea daily.  Talk about an unnecessary, time-consuming task.  I’m the type where if it something is not easily accessible, I just won’t use it regularly.  Since brewing and storing does start the oxidation process, you may lose some of the benefits of the tea but at the same rate you can’t benefit from it if you don’t drink it period!  I’ve brewed large batches of tea in two ways: using mason jars and using the Teavana Infusion Tea Pitcher (which you can find here.)  A trick to brewing a large batch of tea is to measure the amount you want with the accoutrement you plan to use to store it in.  For example, if I want 3 mason jars worth of tea, I will fill 3 mason jars with water, pour into a pot to heat and use 3 teabags. Simple enough but I didn’t think of it until my 3rd or 4th time doing it and eyeballed the water which didn’t turn out so well.  Smart, I know.  You can refrigerate for 3-5 days.  After nailing down this process, one of my girlfriends gifted me with the Teavana Infusion Tea Pitcher (Hey, Michelle!) which made it super easy to store the tea without having a whole row of mason jars filling up the refrigerator.  It’s under $30 so not going to break the bank but I’m sure similar, non-brandname infusion pitchers would be comparable.

With these 5 tips, you are on your way to become a bonafide Green Tea drinker.  Super exciting! Remember to not be discouraged with a bad cup of tea.  You’ll probably have to try a few to learn to love it.  I did!  Happy Brewing!

– Kelly

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