Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tea and Sympathy: The Sick List

            It’s November and we are well underway with autumn followed by winter knocking at the back door. For many of us that means changing leaves, chilly weather, and warm sweaters. For others it just means flu season, tissues, and tea. Well, for the Darjeeling Darlings tea is year-round regardless of the season or our state of health, but in this and many other under-the-weather cases, tea has become a best friend for us Sickly. When you’re sick with the flu that’s going around the office or you’ve finally caught that respiratory bug that’s taken down family members, tea is now on the list of things to grab from the drug store as you trudge home. You’ve sneezed 50 billions times in the last few hours, your throat hurt every time you swallow, you head is feeling foggier by the minute, and all you want to do is sleep. So you need tea…and a box of decongestants, but also tea. You may not know it, but tea is going to become a good friend of yours during this time of suffering. It’s going to soothe your scratchy throat, it’s going to help you fall asleep a little easier, or it’s going to lend a helping hand to your immunity. Or maybe it’s just going to keep you warm and alert while you finish a paper in your damp dorm room that’s probably at least partially responsible for this yucky cold you picked up. So which kind do you select?

            Fear not Friends, because I have a few answers for this question that will help you out the next time you are under the weather. I present the “Tea and Sympathy Sick List” which is made up of medicinal and tasty teas to hold your hand and help you feel better during sickness and the lack of health. Mind you, this list isn’t about the highest quality, out of this world tasting tea. If that were what I was going for I would recommend anything from Harney & Sons and in all likelihood one would have to wait a few days for it to be shipped. So this is a list of conveniently located teas that will get the job done when you’re sick. They can be found at your corner drug or grocery store and aren’t outrageously priced. But first, let’s take a moment to point out a few “sick tea” basics.
            Green and white teas are some of the best teas you can drink for your health because of their antioxidants. We touched on antioxidants last time but didn’t discuss exactly what it is about them that are good for us. It starts with how green and white tea leaves are processed. Unlike black tea leaves that are fermented, green tea leaves aren’t which leaves them with a higher concentration of catechin and polyphenol antioxidants…30-40% to be exact. You see, our bodies have these things called “free radicals” that develop from exposure to toxins and pollutants that break down the structure of the proteins that make up ourcells. Free radicals destroy DNA, alter our cells, and even kill them. One result? Wrinkles. If I remember correctly from Chem 101, free radical proteins can’t actually be repaired but they can be prevented and even “patched-up” by chemical substitutes like collagen. So drinking green tea more so helps your immunity by preventing damage to it. Don’t let that stop you from drinking green and white teas while you’re sick though! More often than not, green teas are infused with other beneficial vitamins you need, which is nice.
Microscopic image of a free radical

Then there are the other ingredients that are helpful for sickness like ginger, honey, peppermint, and chamomile. Ginger, peppermint, and chamomile are good for the stomach. Keep this is mind if you take a round of antibiotics that might alter the good bacteria in your intestines. Until it returns to normal, ginger and chamomile will help calm stomach pains. Lemon and honey are great for soothing sore throats, whether it’s in the tea or you add it as a fixin yourself. Lastly, it's important to decide whether or not you want caffeine in your tea, and I suppose that depends on whether or not you're taking a true sick day. Just know that green, white, rooibos, and most herbal teas aren't going to contain caffeine unless they're paired with something like Early Grey. However, that's still going to be low on the caffeine scale. So below, you’ll find the list of teas that contains all of these great ingredients that will hopefully get you back on your feet in good time and taste.


Until next time, cheers to good health!


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