Super food: Tea

Remember playing tea party with your stuffed animals when you were young? At that age I was probably ignorant to the vast varieties and types of tea out there let alone having real tea in my plastic tea set… However it may be a good thing that I was not consuming large amounts of tea at this age since it does contain small amount of caffeine, which children do not need. Also there has been recent coverage in the news about tea from China containing traces of led originating from coal-fired power plants that could cause concerns for pregnant women and their babies.  Recent testing done in Alberta showed that one-cup of tea did not have high enough concentration of led residue to cause negative health effects in pregnant women (i.e. hypertension, spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, and neurological problems). However, pregnant women should avoid consuming over 2-3 cups of tea in one day. Tea brewed from Sri Lanka and India was less likely to be elevated in led residues.  Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines currently state that the following herbal teas generally are considered safe when taken in moderation (2-3 cups/day): Ginger, orange peel, red raspberry leaf, peppermint leaf, rose hip tea.

It is overwhelming the amount of tea types available, but when it comes down to it, all tea comes from the same species of plant called Camellia sinensis. Leaves from this species are harvested and oxidized to different levels to produce white, yellow, green, oolong, and black tea.

Why is it healthy?

Regardless of this led scare, tea has many well-documented health benefits, which is why it is considered a Super Food. Research suggests tea has multiple paths of action including detoxification of chemicals, increasing the level of cellular antioxidant defense which lowers risk of cancers and atherosclerosis (narrowing of the blood vessels), immune system stimulation, and promoting healthful gut bacteria.

Tea acts as antioxidant, decreasing the effect of free radical damage causing cholesterol deposition in blood vessels, and promotes the death of cancerous neoplasms.  Tea polyphenols have antiviral actions that improve physiological immune response. These polyphenols from both green and black tea also suppress the growth of harmful Enterobaceriaceae in the gut without affecting the beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus and bifidobacteria).

Including Tea in your diet-


–        Your favorite hot cup of tea

–        Brew tea and cool it in the fridge to later drink as a your own version of “flavored” water.

–        Use cooled tea in smoothies to give you regular recipe a new flavor dimension with added health benefits


–        Use tealeaves in baking! Chai tea, pistachio whole grain muffins are absolutely delicious. Use your imagination and create your own fragrant combo!

–        Matcha green tea ice cream

–        Tea infused rice pudding


–        Tea encrusted salmon, chicken, tofu or any protein really!

–        Tea infused rice pilaf

–        Green tea broth in an Asian inspired soup


Did you know that…

Green tea is particularly rich in catechins, polyphenols that have shown in human studies to reduce body fat mass and LDL cholesterol levels. The concentration of catechins per cup varies based on the amount of time Green tea is allowed to steep. The general consensus among studies is that benefits from green tea come from having just 4 eight-ounce cups each day.



 * photo from Callie’s Instagram