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The Powerful Health Benefits of America's Beloved Beverage
New York Ag Connection - 01/11/2019

Pinkies up -- it's time to celebrate the health benefits of the most consumed beverage in the world second to only water! As we look ahead and enter the new year, steep your way to optimal health by celebrating the fourth annual National Hot Tea Day on Jan. 12.

To honor tea lovers across the nation throughout National Hot Tea Month, the Tea Council of the USA kicked off their third annual IndividualiTEA Photo Sharing Sweepstakes, offering one lucky winner a chance to win $500 and a year's supply of tea. Entering is as easy as one-two-tea! Simply brew up a cup of black, green, white, dark or oolong tea and share your photo, video or description on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #IndividualiTEA and tag @TeaCouncil.

After holiday parties full of eating and drinking merrily, it's no wonder getting healthier is one of the nation's most sought-after New Year's resolutions. Luckily, tea can help. All true teas come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, and there are five main types to consume to reap the plentiful benefits -- black, green, white, dark and oolong. Tea contains especially high concentrations of flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds that have antioxidant properties. Tea flavonoids often provide bioactive compounds that help to neutralize free radicals, which scientists believe, over time, damage elements in the body, such as genetic material and lipids, and contribute to chronic disease.

Whether you're brewing up a cup for tea's healing properties or cozying up on a cold winter's day with a warm mug, consider these proven health benefits of tea as you review resolutions, build new habits and enter 2019:

- Take Tea to Heart: Studies suggest tea may promote overall heart health. Research from a recent cohort study concludes that tea drinkers have significantly lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL or "bad" cholesterol and higher levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol. Specifically, black tea consumption has even been linked to decreased risk for a heart attack and improved cardiovascular health. One of the health promoting compounds in tea, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG, has been shown to improve other indicators of heart health. EGCG may improve heart health through reduction in inflammatory markers, narrowing of arteries and increase in antioxidant activity.

- Support Weight Goals: Tea consumption is associated with lower weight and waist circumference. Studies suggest hot tea drinkers often have lower waist circumference and BMI. Additional research suggests the catechins or bioactive compounds in tea, in combination with caffeine are responsible for increasing energy usage in tea drinkers which can have a weight modulating effect. Tea contains no sodium, fat, carbonation or sugar -- it is virtually calorie free.

- Strengthen Memory and Concentration: Bioactive components of tea like L-theanine and EGCG have been shown to enhance brain function. A recent review indicated that green tea consumption may be related to benefits in memory, attention and brain function. A separate study demonstrated that when subjects consumed 2 cups of black tea they demonstrated greater levels of attention. Tea is a smart beverage choice for your future health too. Green tea consumption can help to ward off dementia later in life. A study suggests reduced incidence of dementia in those who drank cups of tea daily. Drinking tea may even help you beat that afternoon slump! In a cross-sectional study those who drank tea felt less tired and reported higher levels of subjective work performance.

- Stress Less: Between parties, traveling and wrapping presents, we're often left with stress and exhaustion once it's time to return to work after the holidays. Early research suggests that green tea consumption may be related to reductions in anxiety thanks to bioactive components L-theanine and catechins like EGCG. And if you're feeling sluggish, start your day with an energizing cup of tea. Depending on type, tea contains less than half the caffeine of an equal-sized serving of coffee, but enough to provide the cognitive benefits.

"Just like eating fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, regular tea consumption has been shown to have significant health benefits," says Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Council of the USA. "We're excited to encourage a nation of tea drinkers to showcase their IndividualiTEA and embrace National Hot Tea Month timed to the new year. We can't wait to see your tea stories!"

Looking to steep the perfect cup of hot tea, every time? Timing is crucial, so follow the Four Golden Rules for a delicious cup, and don't forget about steeping guidelines.

- Use a teapot

- Bring fresh, cold tap water to a full boil (Note: If your water is heavily chlorinated or contains other objectionable odors, filter before boiling for best tasting tea)

- Use one teaspoon or one tea bag per cup

- Pour boiling water over tea and brew by the clock 3 to 5 minutes, and serve! For Green and White teas, let the water cool for a few minutes before pouring over your tea

- Recommended Steep Times: Steep White for 1-3 minutes, Green for 3 minutes and Black, Oolong and Dark for 3-5 minutes

The Tea Council of the USA is a non-profit association that was formed in 1950 as a partnership between tea packers, importers and allied industries within the United States, and the major tea producing countries. It functions as the promotional arm of the tea industry with a primary goal of increasing overall awareness of tea by providing information about its many positive attributes. One of the Council's primary objectives is the dissemination of key scientific findings about tea to the public. The Tea Council does this in several ways including: funding scientific meetings to bring tea researchers from around the world together to share key information and identify next steps for future research projects; and working with health organizations and international scientists to disseminate information about potential positive health effects of tea consumption on a public level.

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