Green tea has become one of my favorite go-to drinks in the morning and throughout the day. The boost of antioxidants and gentle caffeine level make it a healthful alternative to soda, juice or milk. Green tea can be an acquired taste though, so if it’s not your favorite beverage, consider adding one, or more, of the following ingredients to make it more palatable.
Why green tea?
Green tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, as black and oolong teas. The difference is green tea is made from leaves that have not been fermented. As a result, it has the highest number of antioxidants of the tea varieties. These antioxidants include polyphenols, catechins and a variety of flavonoids: anti-aging compounds found in other foods like dark chocolate and red wine. Green tea also contains some caffeine, but without the spike that coffee often delivers. So, it is often a suitable replacement for coffee depending on your health needs.
Other benefits of green tea include reducing your risk of heart disease and decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Studies have also found that green tea might help reduce inflammation, improve memory and prevent cancer. Below are seven of my favorite ingredients to add to green tea.
Nothing wakes you up in the morning like the flavor of mint. Steep fresh mint leaves or add a bag of peppermint tea with your green tea to add a zesty, eye-opening flavor. Mint has strong microbial properties, can help soothe your digestive tract and packs an additional antioxidant punch, making your green tea even better for you.
2. Coconut oil
If you’re a fan of Bulletproof coffee, try adding coconut oil to your green tea. You’ll stay feeling fuller for longer, which may help you snack less during the day and get closer to your weight loss goals. Plus, your body will be able to access fat-soluble vitamins in the tea more efficiently. Just like when you add it to coffee, coconut oil forms a layer of fat on top of your beverage, so only add it in small amounts to get used to the texture if it’s new to you.
Add one or two slices of fresh lemon to your tea as it steeps, or squeeze a wedge into your tea once it is ready. The subtle, tangy taste brings with it a healthy boost of vitamin C, and small amounts of magnesium, calcium, folate and copper. If a small amount of texture doesn’t bother you, consider grating a bit of organic lemon rind into your tea for a mega-punch of antioxidants.
If you like sweet tea, try adding a few raspberries or blueberries to your green tea. It will sweeten the tea up a bit without going overboard, and it might even make you feel less hungry. If you like iced green tea, add some muddled berries to a pitcher of freshly brewed green tea and let the combination mingle in the refrigerator until crisp and cold.
Ginger is a fantastic natural remedy during cold and flu season. Adding a few slices of fresh ginger to your green tea as it steeps will help open your sinuses in no time. It’s also great for morning sickness and nausea, and may help people with osteoarthritis as it has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory for patients with the disease.
Raw, local honey can add sweetness to your tea if that’s preferable to plain tea. It’s also a good way to mellow the flavors of lemon or ginger if you’d added too much on accident. Honey boasts polyphenols that may help prevent heart disease. It also contains antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a natural way to keep your immune function up. Local honey may even help reduce seasonal allergies, so if you find yourself sneezing in spring, adding honey to your tea might help.
7. Plant-based milk
Whether you prefer almond milk, cashew milk or even pea protein milk, adding some to your tea will give it a creamy texture without the heaviness of dairy. It will also help you feel fuller if you’re drinking green tea to promote weight loss. You can even use matcha — finely-ground green tea — and nut milk to craft a matcha latte at home. Avoid using any dairy products in your green tea, though. Casein in dairy products counteracts the antioxidants in green tea by binding with them at the molecular level and making them impossible for the body to process.
Warning: purchase only pure green tea
There are a number of reputable tea companies that sell pure, organic green tea. Avoid purchasing tea on eBay or Amazon, so you can be sure you’re sourcing the freshest ingredients. Recently a teenager was diagnosed with severe hepatitis after drinking three cups of green tea a day to lose weight. The tea was from a Chinese brand and most of the text on the box — including the ingredients — was in Chinese, a language she could not read. The condition was so severe that she was hospitalized for a time, but her symptoms subsided as soon as she stopped drinking the tea.
Always make sure you know what you’re putting into your body! That said, green tea offers a wealth of benefits, and in its pure form can help you live a healthier life.
Do you have a favorite ingredient to add to your green tea? Let us know in the comments.