There is a tremendous amount of buzz on the web and in the media in general these days about the benefits of drinking tea, more specifically, if drinking tea significantly aids in weight loss. While there are no conclusive studies that show a direct correlation between drinking tea and losing weight, it is important to understand why tea can be an important part of a weight loss program and a healthy lifestyle.
All teas contain polyphenols, which attack triglycerides, the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and in the body. Triglycerides are most commonly found in vegetable oils and animal fats. Green tea contains catechins, a type of polyphenol, which can trigger weight loss by basically increasing the body's metabolism, which of course helps to burn fat and calories. Research has also indicated that catechins can lower LDL cholesterol (the bad one).
If you are drinking tea on a regular basis, then you are probably not drinking as much of sugary juices or soft drinks, and thus taking in less sugar and calories. Remember that tea has virtually no calories. While tea itself may not cause immediate weight loss, there is no question that it can help burn fat and calories in addition to being part of your overall healthy lifestyle.
Raspberry Iced Tea with Mint and Fresh Raspberries
This raspberry tea over ice recipe is simple and makes an incredibly delicious and refreshing flavored tea. There is nothing like simplicity in recipes, especially when it comes to flavored teas. Too many ingredients, and you miss all the unique natural flavors.
Makes approximately two 16 oz. servings
2 teaspoons Very Raspberry Tea from Teajo
4 sprigs fresh mint leaves
1 dozen red raspberries
Cranberry juice (1 oz. or less)
16 oz. boiling water
Raw Agave nectar (you can get this at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or most natural food stores)
Two 16 oz. glasses
1 Smart Tea Maker
A note about the ingredients:
Raw Agave nectar - Agave nectar is a raw and natural product that is very similar to honey in taste and consistency but much lighter and probably better for you. It is a wonderful sweetener for those watching their sugar intake, because it has a very low glycemic index. Agave also provides just enough sweetness so that you can maintain the flavor of your tea. Of course, another great advantage of using Agave is that it dissolves in cold liquids. No more clumping sugar at the bottom of your glass!
Bring 16 oz. of hot water in small pot or kettle to a boil. While water is heating up, drop 2 teaspoons of Very Raspberry Tea into your Smart Tea Maker. Note: if you decide to use a granular sweetener in place of Agave, place it into the Smart Tea Maker at this time. Set aside your Smart Tea Maker and begin to prep your glasses. Fill each glass with ice about half way, then layer in 1 sprig of mint leaves along with a handful of red raspberries. Fill the remaining half of each glass with ice again.
Brewing the tea:
Pour boiling water into the Smart Tea Maker just below the lid. The Smart Tea Maker is approximately 16 -18 oz. in capacity. Close the lid and let the tea brew for approximately 3-4 minutes. Remember that the longer the brew, the stronger the tea.
Dispensing the tea:
If you have never used the Smart Tea Maker to brew iced tea, we encourage you to watch the following video link, which illustrates the dispensing of hot brewed tea into a glass of ice: http://www.gourmetfoodmall.tv/play.php?vid=93.
Place your Smart Tea Maker on top of the 1st glass just for a few seconds (long enough to fill about 1/4 of your glass. Now immediately lift the Smart Tea Maker from the glass to stop the flow. Move to the 2nd glass and repeat. Now, go back to the first glass and dispense until glass is full to the top. Move to the 2nd glass and repeat.
You may be wondering...why not just fill one glass completely at a time? The reason for going back and forth between the two glasses is that the first pour of brewed tea out of the Smart Tea Maker is always the strongest. To avoid one glass of iced tea being too strong and the other too weak, you move back and forth between the glasses to balance out the strength of the brewed tea. If you are worried about the hot liquid melting all the ice, don't be. Some melting of ice cannot be avoided, but a full glass of ice will chill the hot liquid in a minute or so.
Garnish the top with remaining fresh mint and raspberries. Splash with a little cranberry juice and drizzle with raw Agave nectar to taste. Now it is time to delight your taste buds and quench your thirst!
Tip: Don't throw out the brewed tea leaves. You can rebrew a second time by just adding more hot water!
The other day I was dining at a local casual dining restaurant that prides itself on quality, gourmet food. Out of curiosity, I decided to order a Peach tea, their flavored iced tea offering. Big mistake. It was so bad I couldn't finish it. It tasted like someone had mixed heaping teaspoons of peach flavored saccharin with some really stale tea. What drives me crazy is that so many restaurants are great at using quality ingredients for their food items, yet when it comes to non-alcoholic beverages, the best option is either a Coke or the lame syrup based concoction I had posing as a flavored iced tea. This particular restaurant has great food, but their flavored iced tea offering is below average at best. The sad reality is that this is the scenario in 90% of casual dining restaurants.
Unfortunately, flavored tea gets a bad rap primarily because the low quality product offered by the restaurants is what is available to the consumer. Most people get their flavored iced tea experiences from a restaurant. I feel compelled to educate the tea drinker and let them know that there are some really good flavored iced teas available. For the time being, tea drinkers won't find quality flavored tea in their favorite restaurant and will have to resort to the web. Fortunately, we are also in the process of educating many in the restaurant industry and encouraging them to step up their non-alcoholic beverage offering, specifically flavored iced teas. One day, the consumer will be able to enjoy an all natural, raspberry flavored iced tea at their favorite restaurant without sending it back.