I’ve committed to something that, with my upbringing and my family, is incredibly unusual. I switched from drinking two to four cups of coffee a day to three to six cups of green tea a day. My grandfather would not approve, I’m sure, if he were alive to find out about it. But I made this switch because the research on drinking green tea has been piling up for years; moreover, green tea does not require sugar or cream to taste amazing. So, you know, it’s just another opportunity to cut the white stuff out of my life a bit more.
I came late to my discovery of green tea. My previous experiences with green tea had led me to believe that it had only one variety and that this variety tasted like falling face-first into a verdant, scummy marsh of the Pacific Northwest. “Grassy” is the word. Way. Too. Grassy.
It’s not that I was stupid. I was just woefully uninformed. Enter my “Aha!” moment not too terribly long ago when I stepped foot in one of the most authentic hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurants in the region and had real, really-really-real, green tea. Little specks of tea leaf in the bottom of my cup, that lightly nutty flavor, the sweet aftertaste: I was in heaven. Something of the flavor reminded me of coffee, but it left my mouth feeling clean, whereas coffee leaves my mouth in need of a mint.
So I began to research. I discovered a wealth of information.
I found that green tea has been shown, clinically, to help prevent atherosclerosis, to lower bad cholesterol, and raise the good; large-scale clinical studies even indicate that green and black teas provide some sort of protection from cancer. While the nature of the link is unclear, it is there. The list goes on: liver disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and even dental health! While weight loss even figures in here (and that’s the one everyone seems to care about), to me it seems of less importance than discussing mother-freaking cancer.
Given my family history, I asked myself how I could justify not guzzling green tea all day. It’s the brick house of beverages!
So I made the switch, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve observed the following:
- I’m better hydrated. I drink a great deal of water every day anyway – at least 64 to 80 ounces – but making this switch has provided a tangible improvement in my overall hydration. If I went to give blood right now, I would surely impress the phlebotomist.
- I have consistently greater energy. This one surprised me. My energy doesn’t peak and fall, as with coffee. Because green tea has lower caffeine, it has more gradual highs and lows. The additional hydration also helps me stave off afternoon hunger and weariness.
- I am now part of a large, snobby sub-culture of tea drinkers.
- It saves me money. Okay: to make green tea for my big 16 oz mug (check out how bad-ass this mug is, no seriously), I use 1 tsp of the loose leaf green tea. Then I reuse those leaves three times. So, while I’m no math savant, even I can do these numbers: 64 oz of green tea from 1 tsp of leaves. The cheapest coffee I’m willing to drink is about $16 for 2 lbs. Each cup costs several times that of green tea. The tea leaves themselves are pretty cheap. I get 8 oz of the high-quality, organic stuff for about $15. Tea stores are a dime a dozen online. I also buy white tea, which is a whole other post for another day.
- I don’t have to buy creamer and sugar. This one is theoretical, because my husband still downs the black stuff every day. But we buy much less creamer and consume much less sugar as a unit.
And of course, there’s the less tangible benefits. I get to be a snob about tea in much the same way I’m a snob about coffee. Did you know that drinkers have to steep green loose leaf tea based on its variety? Let me paint this picture for you: me standing over a pot of water, dangling a thermometer in it, and yanking it off the burner at EXACTLY 180°F. Then me steeping that tea in my badass tea mug for an EXACT amount of time (as set on both the oven and microwave). Then me sucking down that green-gold goodness like the self-satisfied snob I am. It’s a beautiful thing!
So for your health, and to be a snob, I encourage everyone to jump on this bandwagon with me. I personally enjoy the gentle sweetness of Dragonwell green tea, but you folks may find one of the other varieties more to your taste. Nix the tea bags if you can and go the loose leaf route – it’s just better. Suck down three cups a day of this stuff. Be a snob like me! There’s just no reason not to do this for your health.