For those who can’t kickstart their day without their morning cup, tea is the elixir of life. Had in the recommended quantity, its benefits run into reams of pages. REENA SINGH lists some of them here

The 1st cup caresses my lips. 
The 2nd shatters my lonely sadness.
The 3rd sparks my intellect. 
The 4th flushes out grievances. 
The 5th purifies my every cell.
The 6th connects me with the divine.
The 7th prepares me for paradise.
— Lu Tong, Chinese poet, 798-835

Aren’t Lu Tong’s seven cups of tea way over the recommended limit? Not really. Nutritionists say that even up to eight cups of tea a day is fine. Typically, however, they recommend three to four cups, for that is enough to provide you the great benefits found in tea. Moreover, it has antioxidants, and its goodness provides protection against heart disease and cancer. It fights stomach infections and improves brain function, besides boosting the mind and working as a natural relaxant to kill stress.

Reena Singh

As You Like It
You can take it any which way — hot or iced, flavoured or plain, milky or black. And contrary to health updates, both green and black tea are good and have different benefits. Similarly, herbal tea is good too, for with it, you get the added health benefit of the herb that’s in it. But if you must have flavoured tea, make sure the flavours are natural. The perfect cup is one that has been brewed for no more than a couple of minutes. If you want another cup, don’t reuse and brew the tea leaves again. That, for sure will kill the nutrients and the antioxidant properties.

Green and black tea come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The leaves are simply processed differently, and that is the only difference.

Packed With Antioxidants
Both forms of tea are high sources of antioxidants, and research suggests that they have upto 10 times more of polyphenols, substances that are also found in fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidants. These hunt out cell-damaging free radicals in the body and detoxify them.

It thus makes sense to say that tea packs in more punch than a vitamin pill. It also lowers your cholesterol levels and speeds up the recovery of heart cells after an attack. Tea is good news for those getting along in years. Its antioxidants keep you looking radiant and young; it is hydrating, and so long as you don’t add extra calories with excess sugar and make it too milky, it could be the perfect substitute for water. Hydrated skin always looks taut and radiant and never looks wrinkled, so that alone is an incentive to drink tea — especially if you are not the type to drink the recommended amounts of water in its natural form.

Tea also speeds up the body’s metabolic rate and for an average-weight person, drinking four to five cups of tea could burn off an extra 70 calories a day. To give you an idea of what that means, these are the amount of calories burnt if you walk a little above 10 minutes.

Another boon for the 40-plus — tea cuts the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and could even stave off Alzheimer’s as it boosts brain functions. You will know the truth of that statement if you are one of those types who can’t get started in the day unless you have your morning cuppa. Tea jogs you awake and you can get out of bed and go about your day.

Oh, for a refreshing cup of tea

Good For Children, Too
Remember your mom giving you a cup of energising black tea when you had a stomach upset as a child? That’s because tea kills bacteria and germs. The good news is that tea is good for children even when they are not ill, so instead of colas and artificially-flavoured milk, give them a mix of tea and milk or iced tea, for why should the benefits of tea be denied to them? Add a bit of it to their milk everyday and call it tea-flavoured milk. The taste is pleasant and it may soon be a hit with the children. This way, they will get the benefits of both milk and tea, ingredients that are essential for them.   

Reena Singh has more than 37 years’ experience in senior editorial positions in The Times of India (TOI) and Genpact. She was Deputy Editor with TOI’s spiritual newspaper, The Speaking Tree, where she spent nine years.

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