Drink to Your Health

C.C.

No question, tea is hot–even when it’s not. Riding the heels of its trendsetting cousin, coffee, tea isn’t just your basic black breakfast beverage anymore. Served steaming or cold, bottled or brewed, organic, herbal and flavored teas are popular new versions of the age-old drink, though green teas comprise the fastest growing segment of the market. Even more in vogue is chai, a latte-like Indian mixture of tea, milk and spices, which has tripled in sales from $11 million to $35 million a year.

Why has tea drinking, a ritual long embraced by Asians and the British, finally made its mark in America? The answer lies in an explosion of research suggesting that tea, particularly green tea, provides numerous health benefits. Studies show that drinking four cups of green tea a day can reduce the risk of developing stomach and lung cancer as well as heart disease. The key to tea’s curative effects seems to lie in chemicals called polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may inhibit tumor growth and diminish arterial blockage. Green tea may also protect against the flu and Parkinson’s disease.

But tea’s rising favor may also be due to the soothing ritual of making a cup, according to Ron Rubin, “Minister of Tea” (or president, in layman’s terms) at the Republic of Tea, a California-based company devoted to taking life “sip by sip, rather than gulp by gulp.” The time it takes to steep tea leaves in hot water and savor its gentle flavor, which is kinder than that of coffee, forces drinkers to slow down and relax for a while, he says, making it the perfect antidote to a caffeine-charged, cappuccino-crazy world.

COPYRIGHT 1999 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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