Keep Calm and Drink Tea

I confess, I love tea. I love the flavor, the aroma, and the total experience of brewing and drinking tea. This probably started when I was the very active little girl of a late-in-life mother, whose mission it was to turn her youngest daughter into a “proper young lady.” As a special treat she would prepare a tea party for just the two of us and whatever dolls and stuffed animals cared to join in. I specifically remember her explaining the attributes of the fine china teacups, which I was only permitted to use on these supervised occasions. She would hold the delicate teacup up to the light so I could see the faint shadow of her fingers through the china, and then explain how “a lady” would hold the cup, take a sip, use her napkin, etc. This must be how my love for tea began.

Now, I appreciate tea for all its health benefits as well. There is something very civilizing about brewing and indulging in a cup of tea. Over tea confidences are shared, problems are solved, friendships are solidified, and nerves are calmed. All of these side effects of tea may help to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol has been known to increase appetite and lead to fat storage. Elevated cortisol levels have been linked to many diseases, so controlling stress by stopping to enjoy a cup of tea during your busy day may benefit your health by reducing both appetite and tension.

Drinking tea (green tea, black tea, and oolong tea) has been shown to increase the fat burning process up to 17% and caloric expenditure by 4%. Studies in animals and humans have even shown that drinking tea may reduce the risk of accumulating belly fat. That’s one great reason to choose tea over other beverages!

In contrast, alcohol is loaded with 7 liquid calories/gram. Beer contains a similar number of calories as sugary soft drinks. Red wine contains twice that amount! If you want to reduce your midsection, then reduce or skip the alcoholic beverages.

Unsweetened tea, hot or iced, is a healthier thirst quencher than carbonated soft drinks. It’s easy to drink a large amount of empty liquid calories without even realizing it when you consume soda, and diet sodas are no better for you. These chemical cocktails are hard on your stomach lining, tooth enamel and bones, and  have even been shown to CAUSE weight gain. The bubbles in soda also release gas in your stomach leading to embarrassing GI noises when you least expect them.

Fruit juices and energy drinks may seem like healthy alternatives, but these are loaded with concentrated sugar making it easy to drink excess calories on top of everything else you consume. Eating whole fruit is a much better choice than drinking fruit juice. Whole fruit contains the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals your body needs without the caloric overload leading to weight gain. Try sipping fruit infused tea instead — it’s and excellent way to enjoy the flavor of fruit without all those unnecessary calories.

If you are caffeine sensitive, then opt for teas with low or no caffeine. Flavored herbal teas contain little or no caffeine, and are a relaxing evening beverage. Chamomile tea is one herbal tea well-known for its calming effect on the mind and body. Always try to find an organic tea. If you garden, you can make tea from your own organic herbs. I have made excellent peppermint, spearmint, and lavender teas from my own backyard plants. Tea made from herbs picked right from your garden tastes so fresh, and it’s free!

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So, the next time you’re looking for a little something to drink, keep calm and drink tea. It’s an ancient beverage with modern health benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Franchia Vegan Cafe, 12 Park Ave. (between 34th & 35th St.) New York, NY 10016, (212) 213-1001.

Franchia is another healthy restaurant in the heart of Manhattan. They specialize in vegan Korean and Thai cuisine.  Bibimbap is a popular traditional Korean health staple consisting of rice (your choice white or brown) with various toppings including vegetarian “chicken” or “duck.”  A variety of Asian noodles and toppings are also available along with vegetarian sushi (all chicken, shrimp, crab meat, and tuna are vegetarian versions based on soy gluten and seaweed).

At Franchia I counted no fewer than 50 different hot and iced tea flavors.  They’re sure to have your favorite or a new favorite you haven’t tried yet!  You can linger over the Royal Tea Tray (26.95) or Prix Fixe lunch (26.95) or dinner (29.95) which includes everything from appetizers to dessert, or choose from one of the many lunch specials (12.95). The decor at Franchia is tranquil, modern, and upscale — a quiet haven in the middle of the bustling city.  You will love it!  The website is: http://www.franchia.com.

Abigail’s Tea Room, 1441 Perkiomen Ave, Reading, PA 19602 (610 376-6050): www.abigailstearoom.com

Today my 6’3″ engineer husband bravely agreed to take me to Abigail’s Tea Room for lunch to celebrate my birthday. I say “bravely” because there is more than enough lace, fine china, and “cute” at Abigail’s Tea Room to strike fear in the hearts of ordinary men. As they say at Abigail’s, “It’s not just about the tea, it’s about the whole experience.”  Thankfully, I have an extraordinary husband!

As vegetarians we phoned ahead to be sure there would be something there for us to eat, and we were assured that they would make every effort to accommodate our request. Upon arrival, we were impressed with the superb remodeling that has gone into transforming this formerly rundown city property into the superb Victorian gem you see today. Decor is mainly burgundy and mauve with lace curtains and doilies on every surface, as it should be. Gold gilt mirrors, crystal chandeliers, and even an old Victrola concealing the speakers which softly played background music were all elegant touches that added to the feeling that we had actually stepped back in time. As tea connoisseurs we appreciated their extensive tea list and the fact that each person got their own full-sized pot of tea instead of the “one cup of hot water and a tea bag” that we are used to getting in restaurants today.

For lunch we opted for the “Tea Room Special.” This included an appetizer consisting of a scone and a slice of orange bread served with Abigail’s sweet cream and fruit preserves. This was followed by a cup of Garden Vegetable Soup (you could choose a Garden Salad if you prefer) and any 1/2 sandwich or slice of quiche. We chose the Vegetarian Wrap, and it was delicious.  The wrap consisted of tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, cucumbers, peppers, and a tasty hummus dressing. The wrap was served with a fresh fruit garnish of melon, pineapple, one globe grape and fresh strawberry all on a bed of greens — the presentation was lovely! To top it all off we each had a tray of  four mini desserts: brownie, fruit tart, lemon square, and vanilla cream layer cake. After all that we were quite full, and the tea lasted through the whole meal! (They do have honey for your tea — you just have to ask for it). For $13.95/person, including the tea, I would say this was a good value and a enjoyable experience.

Of course, they do have a gift shop for you to browse through. I found their prices reasonable and the selection of items unique and lovely. (Perfect gifts for the tea lovers you know). While there, don’t forget to walk upstairs and see the restored rooms on the second floor, too.

I would recommend Abigail’s Tea House to anyone. Take your sister, aunt, mother, friend, even the men in your life. If my husband could do it I know there are other men out there who are brave enough to try something different. Try it — you just might like it!