As Seen In Natural Health Magazine
Health Appetites, December/January 2009 Issue
Add tea leaves to fish, soups, and even dessert for a unique flavor and a heart-healthy boost.
By Mathew G. Kadey, M.S., R.D. at wellfedman.com
On a recent trip to northern Thailand, I was served a cup of oolong tea made with leaves picked from a nearby evergreen and dried in the sun. The roasted flavor was so much more robust than what passed for tea back home, it made me feel like I’d never actually tasted real tea before. It also got me thinking, “This is as sophisticated as any spice—could I actually cook with it?”
Back in my kitchen, with the help of Tea Cookbook, by Tonia George (Ryland Peters & Small, 2008) and Tea Cuisine, by Joanna Pruess (The Lyons Press, 2006), I began experimenting with black, white, green, and even red tea—and discovered that teas can add a light, floral note to soups and salads, a deep, almost peppery flavor to fish and meat dishes, and a rich, nutty taste to desserts.
I also learned that, just like spices, teas offer high levels of antioxidants and amino acids that have been linked to cancer prevention, heart health, and even the treatment of anxiety and sleep apnea. Tea is so good for you, researchers suggest drinking up to five cups a day to take full advantage of its benefits. If you’d rather eat your tea, here are our suggestions for putting some of the healthiest leaves—and the highest-quality brands—right into sweet and savory dishes.
According to legend, the ancient Chinese emperor Shen Nung became the first
tea enthusiast when leaves from a tea tree drifted down into his cup of warm water.
The slightly astringent flavor of green tea comes from young leaves of the same tree as white, black, and oolong teas. In Japan, the distinctive vegetal flavor of green matcha tea comes from steaming the leaves, which are then dried and ground into a delicate powder.
Pair green tea’s grassy overtones—in rubs or stuffing—with salmon, chicken, tempeh, or lean pork, or in our Matcha Tea Cookies (see naturalhealthmag.com/matchacookies).
With its extremely high levels of the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate, green tea may help prevent practically everything from sleep apnea and psoriasis to breast cancer, recent studies suggest. Researchers in Japan recently concluded that drinking five or more cups of green tea per day could lower your mortality rate by up to 16 percent.
Best buys: Ingredient Grade Matcha Tea matchasource.com.