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With Lemon, Please

Filed Under: Teas at 9:20 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Lemon WedgeMy friends and I often meet at a local coffee shop, delighting in the café’s overstuffed chairs, cozy ambience and unique clientele. When we order, we all ask for the same thing: a large tea. As we wander away from the counter, we joke about our similarity, but the truth is by the time we finish preparing our drinks, there is nothing similar about them.

I add a splash of milk, my one friend, a packet of sugar and the third, gallons and pounds of each. None of us can even think to sip if the tea is not just as we individually desire. The same is true for all tea drinkers. I’ve yet to meet one who does not add a splash, squeeze, dash or drop of some substance to their brew or to find a plain-tea drinker who is not vehemently opposed to any of the above. We are all additive junkies, aware that each type alters the taste ever so slightly. But what we may not know is that the additives also alter the tea’s health.

Combining any food with another will affect how it is absorbed by the body. With tea, the change occurs in the amount of catechins, or disease-fighting antioxidants, present after digestion.  Drunk plain, only 20 percent of green tea’s catechins remain. However, when citrus juice, particularly lemon, is added the amount multiples by five. The same (although to a varying degree) holds true for vitamin C. Milk also benefits, although by how much is unclear, especially since previous studies have suggested otherwise.  What is known is that, in terms of tea, rice milk is better than soy and soy better than dairy.

So the next time you order your tea, ask for lemon. Or if purchasing a box of tea bags, look for ones that are made with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Know that your love of additives is aiding your beverage, making it all the more healthful, tasty and uniquely you.

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