Surprising health benefits in a cup of tea

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Want to lower your cholesterol, lessen stress, and get skinnier? One expert says the secret is in a cup of tea.

"You can drink a lot of tea in a day. I drink about 40 oz. a day," said tea blending master from McHugh Tea Room Kim McHugh.

McHugh says it is guilt-free, good for you, and satisfying, and the health benefits are more than just a caffeine boost.

"Tea is remarkably low in calories, number one. Two is, there's so many different flavors, It has caticans, it has elfeanine. It has wonderful components a part of tea - all tea," McHugh said.

Several of McHugh's clients drink mint and anise tea for help with digestion.

"It helps you digest your food properly, so you don't get that weighted feel in your stomach," McHugh said. "I'm not a doctor by any stress, but these have been proven for centuries to improve digestion, so that's what we use."

For high blood pressure, try a hibiscus tea. They are loaded with vitamin C and also have inflammatory properties.

"A good cholesterol tea that's getting lots of attention is Puer tea, and it's not a very known tea. Puer is a live enzyme tea, which helps with digestion, cholesterol, sugar absorption, helps your kidneys, bone strength," McHugh said.

The most popular request that McHugh receives is for weight loss tea.

"The tea I like to highlight on weight loss is slimming oolong. Oolongs are a semi-oxidized tea. It's a black tea and green tea blend. It will increase your metabolism by 10 to 12 percent," McHugh said. "Having something in your system that helps the sugar levels in your system, help your kidneys product better will actually help you reduce your weight."

For best results, try to drink tea in its purest state.

"When you add sugar, it destroys the health content of the tea. When you add milk, lactose binds to some of the health content of the tea, and you don't even get to absorb it," McHugh said.

McHugh also says that loose tea has better benefits than a tea bag because loose tea releases all the good enzymes. There's no way to know for sure how long a tea bag has been on a store shelf. Over time, the oils may have evaporated.

Tea Blending Master Kim McHugh drinks 40 ounces of tea every day. She says it's the one drink that's little to no calories, is satisfying, and actually good for you. The best part about tea is that it can be served steeped in water, or it works well in recipes.

Here are a few of McHugh's must-try teas:

Vanilla Mint Chai Puerh - Cholesterol Balancing Tea - Creamy, rich and inviting, this pu-erh based chai is unlike any other. Its delicate balance of silky and luscious vanilla bean, soothing peppermint, licorice root and sweet Saigon cinnamon transform this chai into something magical. Puerh teas have been tied to lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol by 7% when consumed daily.

Tummy Tea (Herbal Blend) - Digestion - This custom blend of Anise, orange peel, ginger and peppermint is great for the upset tummy, IBS and H-Pylori sufferers. Naturally caffeine free, this blend is great for an after-dinner tea to help calm your tummy and help with digestion while not keeping you awake all night.

Slimming Oolong (Oolong Tea) - Weight Loss - Deliciously SMOOTH tea that will help you drop the pounds! Oolong has been scientifically proven to increase your metabolism, help your body burn fat and block absorption of some fat in the intestines. It's also been tied to lowering the build-up of bad cholesterol and improving the strength of your teeth and bones. Oolong has been proven to be effective in increasing the rate of fat burning by 12 percent and boosting calories burned by 3.4 percent. Oolong tea is over 250 percent more effective for boosting metabolism that green tea.

Pia Colada (White Tea Blend) - Weight Loss Smoothie ice cubes - Organic Bai Mudan white tea, organic shredded coconut and organic pineapple bits make up this heavenly tea. White tea is known for its delicate taste and outstanding antioxidant powers. This smooth, sweet and tangy tea is like a healthy, beach vacation in every cup! It can be enjoyed hot or iced. When made very strong and poured into an ice cube tray and frozen, these little frozen nuggets of deliciousness can be added to any smoothie for an additional antioxidant kick.

Hibiscus Blossom (Herbal Tea) - High Blood Pressure and Stress - Rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, antioxidants and this herbal tea is consumed worldwide for its beautiful pink hue and the refreshing citric taste. Hibiscus has been proven to reduce hypertension, improve digestion, reduce bloating and is great for weight management as well as help maintain hydration levels for proper organ functions. This caffeine-free tea can be enjoyed over ice or piping hot.

Chamomile & Lavender (Herbal Blend)- Sleep and Relaxation - Egyptian chamomile has been used for centuries to relax the mind, calm the body and promote restful sleep. This beautiful chamomile blended with the soothing powers of Lavender is one of a kind with its "fluffy" flower buds and fragrant hints of sweetness. Just the "ceremony" of steeping this caffeine-free herbal tea and the aroma can send you to a calm place in your mind. Nighty-night!

Matcha (Powdered Green Tea) - Beauty Face Mask - This culinary grade Japanese green tea has been milled to a fine, powder finish. To enjoy as a beverage, add a teaspoon of Matcha with hot water and steamed milk for a Hot Matcha or put it in the blender with ice and fresh fruit for a smoothie! The health benefits of Matcha exceed those of green tea because you ingest the whole leaf giving it the equivalent of several cups of green tea in terms of antioxidant content! There are no added colors, flavors or sugars in this organic Matcha.

Smoothie Recipe:
Servings: 4-6
1c frozen pineapple chunks
1c frozen raspberries (or other berry)
1 1/2 c Almond Milk (may use soy, coconut, or skim milk)
Hand full of fresh, organic Spinach
1 tsp Matcha Tea

12 ice cubes of extra strong Pina Colada Tea
Honey, Agave or Coconut Syrup to taste (less is more... this adds calories!)
Directions: Add first 6 ingredients into a blender or Vitamix. Add the sweetener last, to taste.
Tip: To reduce the calories further, lessen the pineapple and Almond Milk and add ice or water

Recipe by:
Laura Gonzalez, Chef at McHugh Tea Room

Matcha also makes a great beauty mask. It's been proven to help prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin in skin cells.

Dragons Well (Green Tea) - Beauty remedy, Soothing Eye Packs - This traditional green tea from Hangzhou, Zhejiang is also known as Longjing. It produces a yellow-green liquor and a gentle, pure aroma with a rich flavor. It contains Vitamin C, amino acids and like most finer Chinese green teas, has one the highest concentrations of catechins among teas. As history states, Dragons Well is so fine a tea it was granted royal status as the "Imperial Tea" by the Qing Dynasty and has remained known as a quality tea for centuries. When placed in tea bags and soaked in warm water for 3 minutes, this tea is a miracle worker on inflamed skin from sunburn, puffy eyes, razor burn and even minor rashes. The tannins in the tea act to reduce puffiness and heal damaged skin.

Cabernet Assam (Black Tea Blend) - Tea Infused Blacked Chicken - Organic black tea from India blended with organic licorice root, organic cinnamon and a unique, organic Cabernet Wine flavoring! The cinnamon notes come to life when served hot while the berry aromas shine when served over ice. This is the ideal combo for tea AND wine lovers. Black tea is currently being studied to help control problems with obesity, blood sugar levels and kidney function. Promising results have been shown for insulin-enhancing properties which may pave a brighter future for those suffering with diabetes.

Mediterranean Salad with Tea-Infused Blackened Chicken
and Tea-Infused Black Raspberry Vinaigrette
By: McHugh Tea Room Chef, Laura Gonzalez

Tea-Infused Black Raspberry Vinaigrette

1 tbsp Honey (or Agave)
1/2 cup unsweetened frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp True Leaf Tea Organic Black Raspberry tea, ground
3 tbsp red wine vinegar

Place raspberries, olive oil, honey, salt, ground tea and vinegar in food processor until well blended
Add salt if needed
Pour into airtight container and refrigerate (will keep up to one week)

Cabernet Assam Tea-Infused Blackened Chicken

Ingredients for chicken rub:

1 1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp ground dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp True Leaf Tea Organic Cabernet Assam, ground

Directions for chicken rub:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix evenly
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place
Directions for cooking chicken:
Take 2 chicken breast and thinly slice
Rub chicken with the tea infused chicken rub evenly
Grill chicken until the center has reached 140 degrees F
Take off of heat and slice
Place on top of salad

Mediterranean Salad

1 pkg mixed spring salad
1 apple
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Sliced chicken breast
Black Raspberry Vinaigrette

Mix all dry ingredients and top with dressing and blackened chicken

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