In the beverage universe, tea is the equivalent of coffee’s lesser-known and less-acclaimed sibling—say, Casey Affleck versus Ben or Solange versus Beyoncé. Coffee gets more press, more love, more dollars—and for good reason: Coffee is delicious.
That said, there’s no reason tea shouldn’t receive equal billing. Its health credentials are impeccable. Studies show it may lower your cancer risk, reduce your blood pressure and stress levels, and increase your mental alertness, among other benefits. What’s more, there don’t seem to be many downsides to tea consumption.
Even if you’re a hard-core coffee fan, it could be a smart health move to work more tea into your daily life. Here’s how.
Rub it in. Use loose-leaf tea as a spice rub for meats or mix it into butter for a flavor kick.
Make sun tea. Fill a glass container with water and add tea bags—either all the same kind or, if you’re bold, mix a few complementary kinds, such as white and green ginger or black and spearmint. (Make sure the container has a tight-fitting lid to keep bugs and crud out.) The ratio should be 8 to 12 bags per gallon of water, depending on how strong you like your tea. Let it steep in the sun for three or four hours. If desired, add herbs such as mint or basil, and cool in the fridge.
Use it as a base. Replace water with tea for boiling oatmeal, quinoa or other grains.
Offset sweets. Stir loose-leaf tea into cookie dough, or crush it with graham crackers for a delicious crust.
Mix up a cocktail. Tea can introduce a complex flavor to many a cocktail. For starters, try this easy favorite: Mix 2 ounces of bourbon into a cup of black chai tea, add honey and lemon to taste. (Garnish with a lemon wedge, if you’d like to get fancy.) Or try these delectable concoctions from 8th Wonder, a tea company that infuses its tasty, organic iced teas with functional ingredients, such as ashwagandha, yerba mate and ginseng).
Kellee Katagi is one of those strange souls who actually enjoys working out for the sake of working out. She’s spent most of her 20-plus-year writing and editing career covering fitness, nutrition and travel, as well as outdoor sports ranging from skiing to spelunking to street luge (yes, that’s a thing).