by Cari Schaeffer
I like both coffee and tea, actually. I lean more toward coffee than tea, but both have a place in my heart and on my tongue.
More than half of U.S. adults drink coffee every day — are you one of them? I am! I drink two cups every morning and sometimes one in the afternoon. I have not, however, jumped on the “pod” wagon. I prefer to brew my coffee the old-fashioned way because I like to mix and match the coffee I drink. For a pot of coffee – not just for me, mind you! – I will place two heaping tablespoons of the fully leaded stuff with four heaping tablespoons of decaf. I cannot drink regular coffee. If I do, I will end up cleaning my baseboards (and your baseboards) with a toothbrush after power-washing my house! I also like my coffee strong and full of flavor. That’s why I mound my tablespoons.
Here are some interesting little factoids about coffee:
- Coffee beans contain antioxidants called quinines, which become more potent after the beans are roasted.
- Magnesium is naturally found in coffee.
- Drinking four cups of coffee a day is linked with a lower risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
- Coffee could help prevent dental caries because it contains an antibacterial compound called trigonelline. You still have to brush your teeth, however.
I am also strange (in many ways, but let us stay focused here) because I rarely buy a cup of coffee. I like to make my own at home and drink it in my favorite coffee cup. Note the caption on it – it’s one of my favorite Bible verses and an awesome way to start my day. Personally, I drink and eat nothing out of Styrofoam. It releases chemicals into whatever hot liquid you’re drinking and they are harmful. Plus paper/cardboard cups alter the taste of coffee and my taste buds don’t appreciate that.
As far as tea goes, I like it hot or iced. Although my family roots are in the South, I prefer my tea unsweetened. Whoa – did you feel a shift in the Force when I said that? I think I did… My Southern family won’t be happy with my sacrilege against sweet tea, but I have to be true to myself.
Be sure the next time you drink a cup of tea that it is actually tea if you want to get the health benefits. Real tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else, such as herbal tea, is an infusion of a different type of plant and therefore isn’t technically a tea at all. But if you enjoy it, do the technicalities really matter?
There are some wonderful health benefits to drinking tea. Tea contains polyphenols – a type of antioxidant – and phytochemicals. Most studies have focused on the more prevalent and well-known green and black teas, but white and oolong have health benefits, as well.
Here are some great benefits to be found in tea:
- Drinking tea could help reduce the risk of heart attack and help protect against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
- The antioxidants in tea might help protect against a variety of cancers including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, ovarian, prostate and oral cancers. This must be balanced with the fact that tea is NOT a miracle cure (notice I said “might help protect against”, not “treat”), but simply a component of a healthy, well-balanced diet and lifestyle.
- Tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee and can therefore provide greater hydration properties.
- Tea could be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that compounds in green tea may help diabetics better process the sugar they consume.
- Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.
Aside from the health benefits that keep pouring forth regarding coffee or tea, I strongly believe there is a health benefit to be had from sharing a hot cup of coffee or tea with a friend or group of friends. The great thing about a hot beverage is that it cannot be gulped. Therefore the experience can’t be hurried. It is meant to be sipped, savored, and enjoyed. Just like my friendships. The time I spend with friends is meant to be savored, enjoyed, and long. It’s fun to schedule a proper English tea complete with home-made scones, delicate sandwiches, and bite-sized sweets. I have done it several times and enjoy it immensely.
When a friend is going through a rough time or has some exciting news, they will inevitably say, “Let’s get a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you all about it.” There have been some amazing conversations that have swirled in the steam above a cup of coffee or tea. If only my cups could talk, oh the things they would say…
Cari Schaeffer can be found at www.carischaeffer.com She has two novels currently available – Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate and Hello and Goodbye: Volume One: The Yellow Ribbon Chronicles. Both are available as e-books and paperbacks.