Whew, that was quite the workout! How about stopping to grab something to drink?
Sure, what were you thinking? Beer, wine, smoothies?
Nope, how about a nice cup of healthy green tea!
Green tea? Sure, but why green tea?
WHY GREEN TEA?
Tea is a staple in many parts of the world, be it Britain’s afternoon teas, the mandatory presentation of tea to guests in Persia, or social teas in Arabian cultures. The Chinese can lay claim to having a history with tea for over 4000 years, as well as being able to identify over 300 different kinds of green tea alone. And the Japanese have perfected the art of a tea ceremony that none can match. While tea competes with coffee, for drink of choice in North America, there are few who cannot agree that green tea is something special and in a category by itself.
Green tea comes from the same plant that black tea comes from, but the difference lies in the fermentation process that changes the color and chemistry of black tea. The minimal oxidization that green tea goes through, greatly improves the benefits that it has to offer. While there is still caffeine in green tea, there is so much more available.
BENEFITS OF GREEN TEA
Instead of reaching for a cup of Orange Pekoe the next time you want a cup of something to warm you up, think about substituting it with the benefits of green tea. Green tea has less caffeine than coffee and loads of antioxidant properties. It contains carotenoids, tocopherols, vitamin C, chromium, manganese, selenium and zinc, as well as catechin polyphenols. In fact, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a catechin that has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, if not kill them altogether! Do you know what else polyphenols do? They increase heat in the body, thus helping to burn more calories! Hello, weight loss!
If you want even more benefits than just losing a few calories, green tea can deliver. It has been linked to lower LDL cholesterol levels, the reduction in heart disease, aiding in depression, improving your overall immune system and brain functioning, as well as helping the fight against tooth and gum disease (there is fluoride in green tea too!). Oh, and for those that are looking for just something to whet your whistle, it will keep you hydrated too! About the only drawback to green tea is that if you drink too much of it, you might suffer from insomnia or a case of the jitters, but with a fraction of the caffeine level of coffee, and far more benefits, this is the drink of choice when you reach for your next cup of refreshment.
STEEPING GREEN TEA
While the Japanese might have taken the steeping of green tea to an art form, there is a proper way to steep it. If green tea is steeped at too hot a temperature, it will be bitter. If steeped too low, you will not get the full flavor or benefits. The ideal temperature is between 140F-185F, but this again depends upon the age and quality of your leaves. It is best to boil your kettle, then let the water cool down slightly. You can either pour water from one glass container to another, or let it cool in a glass or ceramic cup, before pouring it into your teapot to steep. Steep your tea for approximately 1-3 minutes, again depending upon the type of green tea leaves used (generally 1-2 for Japanese and 2-3 for Chinese). Now sip and enjoy!
GREEN TEA RECIPES
Green Tea Latte
1 cup cold, unsweetened soymilk
1 cup ice
1 Tbsp warm water
1 Tbsp Tupelo honey (or other mild honey)
1 tsp food-grade matcha (powdered green tea)
Optional: Light rum (to taste)
Make a matcha paste by putting your matcha powder into the small bowl and slowly stirring in the warm water until the mixture is smooth.
Put all of your ingredients into your blender.
Mix your green tea latte on the “blend” setting (or similar) until smooth. This should take about 1 minute. If your matcha paste is sticking to the sides of the blender, stop blending, use the spoon to scrape it off, replace the blender lid, and then resume blending.
Pour your matcha latte into the serving glass, using the spoon to guide it as needed. Serve immediately.
Shrimp with Green Tea Leaves
2 teaspoons Dragon Well green tea leaves
1/3 cup water
3/4 pound medium raw shrimp shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch*
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brewed tea
2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste
Oil for stir-frying
1 slice ginger, minced
1/2 orange bell pepper, cut into cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into cubes
Bring the water to a boil and pour over the tea leaves. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes and strain. Reserve the tea leaves.
Rinse the shrimp under warm running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Add the salt and cornstarch. Marinate the shrimp for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, reserved brewed tea, chicken broth, sesame oil, sugar and black or white pepper. Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium-high to high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger. Stir-fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add the shrimp, stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the tea leaves. Stir-fry the shrimp with the tea leaves until the shrimp turn pink. Add the orange bell pepper. Stir-fry for a minute, then add the red bell pepper. Mix the peppers in with the tea leaves.
Push everything up to the sides. Add the sauce in the middle of the wok. Bring to a boil, then mix with the other ingredients. Adjust the seasoning, adding extra salt or soy sauce if desired. Serve hot with steamed rice.
*If you like, feel free to increase the amount of cornstarch in the marinade to 3 teaspoons. The extra cornstarch will help to nicely thicken the sauce during cooking (be sure to stir the sauce to thicken).
Scrambled Egg Gyokuro
3 Large Eggs
1 Tablespoon water
1 Pat butter
1/2 level teaspoon gyokuro leaves
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and water.
Place butter in a skillet or omelette pan and melt slowly over low heat.
When the eggs begin to settle, sprinkle the tea leaves evenly over the eggs. Gently fold in half and serve immediately with toast or plain rice.
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