Lest you think I was referring to the sometimes-controversial story by Greg Mortensen, I would like to clarify that I drank three cups of green tea daily for the month of February.
It was decaf green tea (though I found out at the end of the month that even decaf has a little bit of caffeine), and in total I probably missed about 7 days of this routine between traveling for work and the weekends (during which time I tend to be more lax about most of my daily routines anyway).
And I did it as my unofficial participation in Northwest Edible Life’s February Anti-Inflammatory Challenge. Because I work out with intensity several times a week (thanks Crossfit…and Nero…), and my sleeping schedule is usually sufficient, and Alex and I are still not completely sold on eating entirely Paleo all the time (we eat healthy, but don’t deny ourselves the occasional “inflammatory” foods like bread or dairy or sugar), I decided that I would try drinking tea.
Back when I was teaching 8th grade, there was a period of time when I had a cup of green tea every evening after dinner and while planning the next day’s lessons. It seemed to help calm my nerves, keep me focused, and encourage a more peaceful sleep at a reasonable hour. I’ve since fallen out of the habit, turning to tea only when sick or experiencing indigestion.
But green tea is purported to have all kinds of health benefits: antioxidants chief among them (according to Web MD, antioxidants “scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA” contributing to health problems, read: inflammation). So here’s what I did for my (unofficial) February Anti-Inflammatory challenge:
In the morning I brewed a pot of tea. I’m not talking microwave-a-cup-of-water-and-plop-in-a-tea-bag kind of brewing. I mean, I boiled water in a kettle, and followed a version of traditional British tea-making that I read about here. I put 2 bags of decaf honey-ginseng green tea in the pot and brewed for 7 minutes. I removed the tea bags (for compost) and enjoyed my first cup with the tiniest drizzle of local honey. I set the pot aside for later.
After lunch and Nero’s afternoon walk, I poured another cup of tea. By this time, the tea had cooled to room temperature. I enjoyed my second cup with 2 ice cubes for iced green tea. It was super refreshing after running around with the dog, and is a tradition I plan to continue (even if I don’t follow through with the other two daily cups).
In the evening, after dinner, as I was cleaning the house, watching American Idol, preparing meals for the next day, or catching up on my blog-reading, I drank my third cup, poured from the pot and reheated in the microwave. This was the hardest cup to remember to drink, probably because when busy schedules dictate our dinnertime at 8pm, I’d rather think about going to bed, than drink another cup of tea whose consumption at such a late hour would inevitably cause me to wake at least once during the night to pee.
Which brings me to a summary of how I felt over the course of the month. Short answer? I felt fine. Perhaps it was the absence of symptoms that could be pointed to as the marker of success in this experiment. I did not get sick or even catch a cold, and I count that as a win, especially after traveling in airports and navigating a bout of head congestion colds in the office.
Is three cups of green tea per day a practice I will continue? Let’s just say I bought another box of tea and it is sitting, ready and waiting, on my counter beside my bright yellow tea kettle.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves… ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Are you a tea enthusiast? Have you ever tried cutting out “inflammatory” foods from your diet? What were the results? Do tell.