Jackie and I met a couple of months ago through couchsurfing. We went to the movies and it turned out we like(d) each other. We have a lot in common: cooking, dancing, electronical music, art movies and tea... So yesterday eve we had a tea meeting and guys, this girl is a master! Thanks Jack for writing this excellent blog about tea. If you are anything like me, you are eager to read all the healthy recipes from the blogosphere to get your life and health back on track for 2013. Whether your new year’s resolution is to exercise more, stop smoking, lose weight, or cut back on soda, alcohol or coffee…tea can be the new best friend to the healthiest version of you. All black, green, white, oolong, and pu-erh teas are produced from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis, and differ only in how the leaves are processed. So which one can provide the most health benefits? It might seem like an obvious answer, but since they are all derived from the same plant, the overall health benefits are similar for all of them. All tea is rich in polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants. Research has demonstrated that these compounds can have positive effects on cancer prevention, cardiovascular health, strengthening your immune system, skin and hair health, and even mental clarity and alertness. Importantly, since tea has a low level of caffeine compared to coffee, drinking several glasses throughout the day can keep your brain alert without over-stressing your heart. This will help you relax and be more mindful with daily tasks. (Complimenting all those yoga classes you are doing, right? Ommmmmmmm Shanti Shanti.) But is it really possible to get the jump-start you need without a morning cup of coffee? By adding warming agents like ginger, cloves, anise, cardamom, and spicy red pepper, you can awaken all your organs with 1/3 the caffeine. I suggest you try this delicious Vegan Spicy chai latté, and experiment with other warm spices like nutmeg, black pepper, and cinnamon. Vegan Spicy Chai Latte 1 Tbsp black tea 1tsp fresh, dried, or powdered ginger 1 to 2 vanilla beans 1 tsp whole cloves several pieces of star anise ½ -1 tsp cayenne pepper ½ -1 tsp shelled cardamom, or 5 green cardamom pods (pounded to free inner seeds) ½ cup soymilk or almond milk 1 Tbsp honey, agave, or raw cane sugar Directions: First, cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise to ensure the rich black inside of the bean adds flavors to the tea. Pound the cloves and cardamom with a mortar and pestle, or blend in a spice grinder, to release all the spicy notes. Then combine all the spices into your teapot or French press along with boiling water. Let steep for 2-4 minutes, to your taste. In the meantime, combine warmed milk and sweetener in a glass. When tea is ready add to milk. The good news: you can have three of these delicious lattés before meeting the same level of caffeine in one cup of coffee. Amazing, right ? Drinking a light tasting green tea throughout the day can help maintain a level of warmth and energy for the cold season. Genmaicha, or brown rice tea, is a perfect example. You can also try making your own versions of grain teas by combining favorite grains like roasted barley, bulgar, and rice with green and white tea. The results are quite earthy, refreshing, and can be served hot or cold. Genmaicha Tea 2 Tbsp Genmaicha water Directions: Add boiling water to tea, steep for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This tea is delicious and does not require sweetener. Should be a light yellow or greenish color. This tea can be consumed well into the evening with no effects on sleep. For those of you who are looking for a healthy potion that may also have qualities to control hunger, kuding, or the “bitter nail” is an easy choice. Kuding is an herbal tea (and caffeine free), being made from a plant belonging to the holly family. It has long been used in Chinese medicine to clear out toxins and lower cholesterol. This is a great choice to complement a juice cleanse. Needle tea 1-4 kuding needles (start with 1, and add more with acquired taste) water (Note by Jolijn: This one is for the die-hards. Ugh ;)) Directions: Add boiling water to the kuding needle, let steep for one minute, and then remove the needle. The tea should be bitter, with a sweet aftertaste. If the tea tastes too bitter, then the needle was likely brewed for too long. The perfect herbal tea, I like to call women’s tea, (although hubby also likes it) is like drinking the smell of spring: fresh, soothing, and comforting. Imagine it…you, after a long productive day at the office, now relaxing in your favorite chair, with a fabulous book, and cozy pajamas. (Totally gezellig : D) Combing these herbs, flowers, and spices to create a “cooling” effect on the body is the only thing you need to truly pamper yourself. (Because frankly…you are amazing…and you deserve it!) Here, the blend of osmanthus and chrysanthemum are used to brighten skin. Rose buds are great for lowering blood pressure and relieving menstrual cramps. Women's Tea 5-10 rose buds 1 Tbsp lavender 1 Tbsp dried mint 1 tsp chamomile 1 tsp tiny chrysanthemum buds 1 tsp osmanthus flowers Directions: Add all ingredients to boiling water, and steep for thirty seconds. This gives a yellow light tasting tea. Continue to steep for 2-5 minutes for a complex, hypnotizing herbal tea. Enjoy! For my English readers (are there any?): I'm thinking about doing some blogs in English too, as an experiment and to improve my English. So if you'd like to read my recipes in English, let me know! Have a great weekend everyone. Om mijn arm zoveel mogelijk te ontlasten vertaal ik deze blog nu niet in het Nederlands. Maar als er mensen zijn die de blog toch liever in het Nederlands lezen, laat het met weten! Dan vertaal ik hem in de komende dagen. Fijn weekend!