Coffee Maker Ratings

August 2nd, 2011

How do you rate a coffee maker?

The most common type of coffee maker you will find in most small households is the automatic drip coffee machine. These are generally fairly inexpensive, though naturally prices will range depending on the brand of the coffee maker, its features and size.  While you may not need the most expensively priced coffee machine there are some features that you may want to keep in mind when shopping for one.

Out of thousands of different brands of coffee makers, there are some that consistently come out on top when comparing prices, features and buyer’s satisfaction.  While it may be difficult to decide exactly which the best coffee maker is, it is not too difficult to come up with top rated coffee makers.

Photo By: Jackie Waters

Following are some of the things we took into consideration when looking at some of the top coffee makers available today.

High Brewing Temperatures and Wattage: In order to reach the higher temperatures needed for a fine cup of coffee, the coffee maker should run somewhere around 1,200 watts.  The larger, higher quality units often do however many of the smaller, cheaper brands do not.

Features: Some of the features consumers are interested in include an automatic shut off feature, programmable timing so that you can set the machine to brew a cup of coffee just before you get out of bed in the morning, thermal carafe that keeps coffee warm for several hours without the coffee becoming bitter or having a burned taste and reusable filters that can simply be rinsed under the faucet and then used again and again.

Following is a review of some of the most-bought coffee makers available for purchase at the moment.

Cuisinart CHW-12 12 Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Hot Water System

If you are looking for a larger coffee maker, perhaps the best coffeemaker on the market is the Cuisinart CHW-12 12 Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Hot Water System. It is suited for an office or workplace or a larger family dwelling or for smaller families as you can set it to brew a small pot if that’s all you need.

Not only does this particular model brew coffee but it also has a water reservoir that allows you to obtain hot water directly from the machine–great for households where some drink tea and some like their drip coffee.  As recommended, this does heat up water to quite high temperatures; 200 degrees for the coffee dispenser and around 180 for the hot water.

Price:  Around $80, 3-year warranty.

Functions:  24 hour programming;  self cleaning; automatic shut-off; carafe temperature control

Cons:  Water tank can be a little difficult to refill; safety lock on the hot water is very easy to open;

Bunn NHBX-B Contemporary 10-Cup Home Coffee Brewer

Perhaps the greatest advantage with the BUNN NHBB Velocity Brew 10-Cup Home Coffee Brewer, Black is the speed with which you can brew a cup of coffee – 3 minutes! That is, providing you make use of the pre-heated water tank. In other words, the water tank is divided into two sections, one pre-heated and one not. In order to make use of the pre-heated water you do need to realize that it uses a small water heater to keep the temperature at optimum levels whenever the unit is on. You can turn this option off, but if you do you’ll be back to a 10 to 15 minute wait before your coffee is ready. Some people may be concerned with the extra power usage this demands.

Bunn is a brand you can trust, they are built to last and in many respects spending a little extra on electricity or on the custom filters you need to use with the coffee maker may be worth it as you will not need to replace your coffeemaker very often.

Price: Around $85, 3-year warranty

Functions: automatic water heating, meaning you can have hot coffee all day long in an instant.

Cons:  can be awkward to clean as you need to empty the water tank first; heavy to move around the counter; no 24 hour programming;  need to use Bunn filters which are not always that easy to find.

Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 5-Cup Drip Coffeemaker

If you are looking for a smaller coffeemaker, one of the top coffee makers in this bracket is the Zojirushi EC-DAC50 Zutto 5-Cup Drip Coffeemaker which brews around 2 mugs at a time–perfect for the early coffee for mom and dad.  Design wise it is fantastic–great looking and it takes up a lot less space than many other similar sized coffee machines. While cheaper than the larger coffee makers, it is definitely not one of the ‘cheapest’ on the market for its size.  One of the key features that make this a great machine–aside from it really making good tasting coffee, is that the water reservoir is detachable and you do not have to lug the entire coffee machine to the water faucet to fill it up or fill it using pitchers of water and inevitably spilling some water.

One other feature which makes this coffee pot stand out from many others is that the filter is encased in the lid and not in the actual coffeemaker. This has a double bonus–first ofall, it makes it extremely easy to clean and remove the ground coffee and secondly it prevents coffee from dripping down onto the hot plate when you remove the carafe to pour coffee.  It also uses the conical shaped filters, which seems to be a favorite for most people.

Price: Around $65. 1-year warranty

Functions: It is a basic model in that there is no 24-hour programming, etc.  It also has a built in water filter. Not too many bells and whistles on this nifty machine, but they are probably not that needed in any case as it is fast brewing.

Cons: some feel that the handle is poorly made and positioned which leads to a lot of pressure on the actual neck of the carafe when pouring coffee.

Melitta 10-Cup Thermal Coffee Brewer

This snazzy looking Melitta 10-Cup Thermal Coffee Brewer would look great on any kitchen counter. Producing great tasting coffee, it has three settings — Regular, Bold and Robust for those who like a very full flavored coffee. Naturally, Regular produces a cup of coffee at a faster speed than Robust. Perhaps the best feature of this particular coffeemaker is that the thermal carafe keeps your coffee at optimum temperature for a long time thus avoiding the need to leave coffee on a heated warming plate and avoiding the burnt, bitter flavor that causes. Commonly, controls and switches on coffee machines are set along the base of the coffee machine where dripped coffee can cause problems in time. The Melitta Coffee Brewer has the controls neatly positioned down the side of the coffee maker avoiding damage caused by dripped or overflowing coffee.

Price: Around $75

Functions: Programmable timer with a two hour shut-off; fast brewing; water reservoir will not overflow as there it has an overflow hole (you can buy an accessory to plug this if you want to pour more water into the reservoir); thermal carafe; cone filter.

Cons: No removable water reservoir; low contrast display making it hard to read — and the display is very bright.

You may want to check out these coffee makers .

Portable Tea Infusers

July 13th, 2011

Anyone who loves their  cup of tea and who would also like to be able to brew fresh, loose leafed tea on the go may be interested in a portable tea infuser.  We recently bought a few different types in order to see how well they work and whether or not they would be a viable option to sell and in essence we are fairly impressed with how well they perform.

These portable infusers are available in both glass or stainless steel. In some respects the stainless steel are our preference as they are more durable and, at least the ones we have, really look great. In fact, they’d be a perfect gift for someone who enjoy a freshly brewed tea. The glass infusers are made with a double layer of glass so even when you are holding one that is full of hot tea the outer glass only feels marginally warm.

Each portable tea infuser comes in three sections. The larger bottom section holds the hot water.  The smaller top section has a lid that pops off.  There is a built in fine metal infuser in the bottom of the top section which is where the tea leaves are placed. If you are brewing a cup of oolong tea or any other tea that expands a lot once it is in water you may want to be careful how much dried leaves you place in the top section. For a cup of oolong I placed about one teaspoon of dried tea in the infuser section.

A Simple How-To

  • Unscrew the lid from the infuser section and place the desired amount of dried tea leaves inside.  Screw the lid back on.
  • Unscrew the top section from the bottom section.  Fill the bottom section with hot water and then screw the top section back on again.
  • Carefully turn the whole infuser upside-down, allowing the water to drain into the infuser section. In other words, you reverse the infuser so that the infuser section sits on the table. This allows the water to mix with the dried leaves and your tea infusion begins.
  • Depending on the type of tea you are making and your preferences as far as steeping time go, leave the infuser in this position until the tea leaves are properly infused. Once it is down, turn the infuser so that the section with the tea now sits on the table and the infuser section is once again on top of the infuser.
  • Screw off the top section.  You will now have a great cup of tea that you can either pour into a new cup, or that you can sip directly from the infuser unit itself.

As most organic loose leaf tea leaves can be steeped more than once, you can simply leave the unfurled leaves in the top infuser section ready to use again when you want to. Of course,  you should not leave them there for long periods of time, but it will not hurt to leave in them in the top section for a time so you can re-use them.

Cleaning The Portable Infuser

Unlike many teapot infusers, this is really very easy to clean.  It is very simple to unscrew the top of the infuser unit and tap the used tea leaves out. They do not tend to get stuck in the infuser section and usually come out very easily. If they are a little stubborn about coming out of the infuser the opening at the top is wide enough to easily pull the leaves out with your fingers or to use another utensil to get them out.

The unit can then be washed in warm water both inside and out. They are also dishwasher safe.

A Few Things To Be Aware Of

While they are extremely easy to use, there are a couple of things you may want to watch out for when using these portable infusers–lessons we have learned through trial and error!

First of all, remember that while the glass infuser unit is only barely warm to the touch the freshly brewed tea on the inside of the unit is very hot–especially when first made. This can take people by surprise!  Remember to sip slowly, as you would from a regular cup, if drinking from the infuser unit otherwise you may end up with a sore tongue!

After pouring hot water into the bottom of the infuser, make sure that the top section is screwed on tightly.  Otherwise you may end up with quite a mess on the table–it has happened (the voice of experience!) that if not properly screwed on the water will pour onto the table when you invert the portable infuser to let it steep.

Finally, especially with the glass model, you may find that it is a little difficult to undo after steeping as the heat causes the material to swell a tiny bit. It’s not a problem, simply don’t expect it to come off quite as easily after brewing tea in it.

In Summary

All in all, I would highly recommend these portable tea infusers to anyone who would like a  very portable method of making loose leaf Chinese tea or even herbal tea.  They are easy to use, they brew a great cup of tea and they are versatile.  The infuser itself is small enough to fit into a vehicle cup-holder without any problems. Tea brewed in these flasks tastes every bit as good as those brewed in a regular tea pot or even in a cup or teapot with infuser.  While not extremely cheap, you will find the money you pay is worth it in terms of quality and ease of use.

Tea Ceremonies

July 2nd, 2011

A tea ceremony is the ritualized way of tea brewing. It often has a strict set of rules to govern how different kinds of teas are prepared, what equipment is used and what drinking manner the tea drinkers should follow. These rules are there to make sure the best taste of a tea can be achieved through the process.

The ritual can trace its roots back 2000 years in ancient China. Old Chinese tea poems and history texts have recorded the brewing of tea following certain rules laid out by the “saints” and how nice the taste of tea was when the ceremony was performed by an expert. There are also ancient Chinese paintings depicting the ceremony, however these were painted at a later time in the Tang Dynasty from around 1000 years ago.

The tea ceremony is the center of tea culture in many tea drinking nations, namely China, Japan, Korean, Britain and its many former colonies. The ritualized process is called Cha-Yi in China. All kinds of Chinese teas are used in the Chinese tea ceremony. It depends on the region and geographic locations, tea ceremonies can be different from one place to another, like the local dialects in China, they can be so different simply by driving 10 minutes down the road. One of the exceptions is Kung Fu Tea ceremony. It is a brewing method that is quite uniformed across many South Eastern provinces of China and Taiwan. Chinese tea ceremonies are quite flexible in terms of rules, however, depending on the teas, water quality and water temperature are often tightly controlled by the rituals.

Photo By: Bruno Cordioli

The Japanese tea ceremony is better known to the world. It is called Cha-no-Yu or Cha-Do in Japanese language, meaning “the Ways of Tea” or “the Tao of Tea”. Japanese Cha-no-Yu originated from medieval China and was brought back to Japan by Buddhist monks who went to study Zen Buddhism in China.

Japanese powdered green tea, Matcha, is the main tea used in Cha-no-Yu. Unlike the Chinese tea ceremony which emphasizes the tea and drinking process, Cha-no-Yu has a lot of focus on the preparation and anything surrounding the preparation, such as the tea ware and the set up of the tea drinking room. There are very strict rules and manners in Cha-no-Yu. The ceremony is usually performed by a woman wearing a  traditional Japanese Kimono dress. However modern Japanese Cha-no-Yu is trying to move away from that image, as the result, you can see women dressed in a tuxedo performing the tea ceremony. Before she is able to professionally act in the ritual, a tea artist has to attend specialized school for years of training and education.

The lesser known ritual is the Korean version of tea ceremony, called Pan-Ya-Ro. The Koreans feel that it is very important to remain natural while drinking tea together. Although Pan-Ya-Ro also has many steps that may seem complicated at first, but there is no rules of minute gestures like the Japanese or complicated water temperature requirement as the Chinese, and it does not take long to master them. Performing Pan-Ya-Ro is less ritualized and emphasizes more on the natural aspect of tea drinking. Green tea is often used in the Korean ceremony.

Bubble Tea Recipe

May 30th, 2011

As promised, I’m back again writing about Bubble tea only this time I am including a Bubble tea recipe. Bubble tea is not really at all difficult to make yourself at home, providing you can find the right ingredients; with one of the most important ingredients for Bubble tea being the larger sized tapioca pearls used in the drink. Once you have the right type of tapioca balls, the next challenge in producing the perfect cup of Bubble tea is to cook the tapioca so that it is at just the right texture–not too hard and chewy and not over-cooked.

Bubble Tea Ingredients

Photo By: Avlxyz

Here is a list of ingredients you will need to make your Bubble tea. Note, you can actually use any type of tea–green, oolong, black or even fruit tea if you like as the base.

  • selected tea (preferably loose leaf tea, though tea bags will also work)
  • large size tapioca balls
  • sugar or fructose syrup (you can make this yourself rather than buying it if you like)
  • dairy creamer or milk/cream of your choice

You will also probably want a shaker of some sort, tall clear glasses and very large straws.

How To Make Bubble Tea At Home

There are many different variations when it comes to Bubble tea recipes. The recipe listed below is a very simple, basic recipe that can be adjusted or adapted according to your taste and your creativity. The mainstay of the tea is the tapioca balls but you can make the tea from tea bags or loose leaf tea, any type of tea including fruit teas, you can choose to use more milk, evaporated milk, or a creamer substitute. You can also use fruit juices or a freshly blended fruit such as mango to make a smoothie–as long as the tapioca balls find their way into the drink–unless you want to substitute the tapioca balls with small agar-agar squares or using taro, follow a taro bubble tea recipe!

  • ¾ cup of tea of your choice
  • dash of milk, cream or a scoop of dairy creamer
  • sufficient ice to fill up your glass
  • 2 ounces (or about ¼ of a cup) of already cooked tapioca pearls
  • syrup or fructose to taste

Shake together the hot tea, milk or cream substitute and syrup of fructose till it is well mixed — a cocktail shaker works well for this.

Add the ice to the shaker and continue shaking till bubbles or froth forms on top of the tea (that’s why it is called bubble tea, not because of the tapioca balls.)

Place the cooked and cooled tapioca pearls into a large glass, pour the tea mix over it and place a large sized straw in the tea.

Sit down and enjoy your self-made bubble tea!

Where To Find Tapioca Pearls

Granted, they are not always that easy to find.  If you have an Asian area of town you may well find them in almost any Asian supermarket. It is unlikely they’ll be in your local supermarket unless of course there’s a large Asian population in the area or Bubble tea is popular where you live. You may also have a tough time finding the straws. Unless you like shopping around or you know there are some to be found nearby, my recommendation would be to buy them online. There are some “Bubble tea” sites that have them for sale, or you can simply buy some from Amazon. For example, you can easily pick up Tapioca for Bubble Tea here, with quite a selection of items to choose from.

Incidentally, if you like you can even buy a Bubble Tea Starter Kit online that includes everything you need, down to straws and a cocktail shaker fairly inexpensively.

Photo By: E.T.

How To Cook Tapioca Pearls for Bubble Tea Recipe

Last but perhaps most importantly the tapioca needs to be just the right consistency; not too chewy and not so soft and mushy either. If you buy the proper kind of tapioca, that used when making Bubble tea, it will take a lot longer to cook than the normal dessert ‘minute tapioca’.  The package should have instructions for cooking listed on it. If not, here’s a basic recipe for cooking tapioca:

  • Use 1 cup of tapioca balls per eight cups of water — this will make enough tapioca for 8 drinks.
  • Boil the water in a very large pot–tapioca really swells a lot
  • Once the water is boiling, add the tapioca. It should rise to the top, if it doesn’t you may want to gently stir it to separate the tapioca balls and encourage it to rise
  • Let the tapioca boil for 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the stove off and let the tapioca sit in the hot water for another 20 minutes
  • Drain the tapioca pearls and rinse off in slightly warm water, this will help them to separate better
  • Stir in some fructose or sugar syrup, mix it through the tapioca balls — again, it will aid in keeping the balls separated (sort of how olive oil in spaghetti does the same thing)

If you choose the smaller mini tapioca balls, the cooking time is reduced to around 15 minutes (with them standing in the hot water for 15 minutes after they are cooked.)

Thai Iced Tea Recipe

May 25th, 2011

Having lived in Thailand for over 25 years, I am quite familiar with both Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee. If you love a sweet, milky tea then Thai iced tea will probably be a favorite! Be warned though, this tea is traditionally very sweet–yet it is that sweetness that makes it a unique drink that is especially delectable on a hot summer’s day.

The tea uses a black tea base, and it is sweetened with  both sugar and sweetened condensed milk! Here is a list of the ingredients you will need to have on hand if you want to make some.

  • black powdered tea leaves
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • evaporated milk
  • ice cubes
  • white sugar

 

Photo By: Rick

Preparation

First of all brew up some strong black tea. Traditionally, Thais will use a tea steeper to brew the tea. This is a muslin or cotton filter, somewhat tubular in shape that is attached to a wire ring and handle at the top of the filter. In reality, it works in much the same way as an infuser. You place the tea leaves inside the filter and pour boiling water over the leaves with the filter held over a teapot, waiting until the tea is the desired strength. Again, you will want to make the tea stronger than you would traditionally brew black tea as it will be diluted with condensed milk and it will be poured over ice. It is better to err on the side of a strongly brewed cup of tea rather than a weak or medium brewed cup.  Kasma Loha-unchit, on her Thai Food and Travel site, recommends two tablespoons of tea to one cup of boiling water.

Once the tea is brewed, and while it is still hot, you need to add sugar (one or two teaspoons) and the sweetened condensed milk.  Remember to stir the tea when adding the thick condensed milk as that will help it dissolve into the tea. Otherwise, you may find the condensed milk simply sinks to the bottom of the tea and does not mix in properly.

When you have added the sugar and condensed milk to the black tea, pour this mix into a glass filled with ice cubes. Finally use the evaporated milk to top off the iced tea. Insert a straw into the drink, sit back and relax with your Thai iced tea.

What Type of Tea To Use

If you are using regular black tea you will want to add a couple of ingredients to the tea while it is brewing to bring out the “real” flavor.  You can also find Thai Spice Tea online, and in some shops–this tea is already flavored and in some instances an orange food coloring is added so that the resultant brew is quite orange in color. It is also referred to as “Thai Seasoning Mix” or “Thai Tea Dust”.  If you want it to taste very authentic, and you are not concerned about the color additives it will give you the most authentic glass of Thai iced tea.

If you prefer to use regular black tea you will want to spice it up with Star of Anise and cardamom.  Ground tamarind is also sometimes used; this will give it a lemon flavor which can be very refreshing on a hot day.  If you want to experiment you can try adding other spices to the tea such as cinnamon, cloves or vanilla beans. If you want the orange color, which is typical with Thai spiced teas, you could try adding a few drops of orange flower water. As you can see, there are quite a few variations you can try–experiment and see what you prefer!

Finally, if you want to be truly traditional, you should pour the mix into a plastic bag, stick a straw into the corner and wrap it off with a fine nylon string fashioned in such a way that you can carry the bag on your arm or in your hand!  Yes, in Thailand they really do serve many drinks in plastic bags with ice including iced coffee and even hot coffee! I have also seen them pop a straw into their bottle of beer, so be warned! Otherwise you can simply serve it in a tall, ice filled glass — with a straw, of course!

What is Bubble Tea?

May 2nd, 2011

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s, with two teahouses claiming to be the creator.  If you have ever been to Taiwan you will most certainly have tasted it as most Taiwanese are rather proud of their “Zhen Zhu Nai Cha” as it is called there.  Now it can be found all over the world in teahouses in America, Australia, Europe and of course all over Asia.

My First (and Last) Bubble Tea

Photo By: AZAdam

Upon arriving in Taiwan I was told that I absolutely must try some Bubble Tea (as well as Stinky Tofu or  tsoh doh-foo as it is also known as) and some other fairly questionable foods and drinks. I was willing to try, however I am not fond of drinking tea with milk so I was skeptical as to how much I would enjoy it.  The tea came in a huge plastic cup with plastic stretched tight to seal it over the top. I was instructed how to turn the large cup up and down and given a humongous straw to poke through the plastic.  Dutifully I poked the straw through the plastic and, as the weather quite hot and the tea was nice and cold, took a long suck on the straw. I almost choked as my mouth filled with large black balls–tapioca balls as I found later. It was such a surprise that I never really recovered.  So as tea with milk is not my favorite and as I’m not that fond of floating things in my drinks I generally opted to buy a mango slushy instead. (Incidentally, the mango slushies made in Taiwan are awesome, made with real fruit–not flavored syrups, etc.  You can also buy them with our without the small tapioca balls–my choice was usually without them.)

Photo By: Infrogmation of New Orleans

What is Bubble Tea Made From?

These days there are many variations of bubble teas to choose from. Many are made from a black tea or green tea base with milk and either tapioca balls or candied taro being added. Building on this, some teas have flavors added–fruit flavors or even coffee flavoring. Additionally, some teas have small jelly cubes instead of tapioca, or different sizes and colors of tapioca. The sky is the limit really when it comes to thinking up new ideas and recipes for bubble tea–it reminds me a little of the many different recipes you can find for cocktails. So, when it comes to bubble tea flavors there are a huge variety to choose from, with many teahouses making up their own variation.

Different Names For Bubble Tea

Bubble milk tea is sometimes referred to as tapioca bubble tea, foam milk tea, pearl milk tea, or simply pearl tea. It is usually referred to as bubble tea by westerners, and is known as Boba tea in many Asian countries.  Usually tapioca bubble tea is more common than taro bubble tea, with the larger one quarter inch, black tapioca balls included in the drink.

Incidentally, the drink was not named after the “bubbles” or tapioca balls, but rather it was originally called bubble tea because it was shaken vigorously after being made resulting in a top layer of foam and froth — the bubbles. Hence the origination of the name ‘bubble tea’.

The First Recipe for Bubble Tea

As stated in Wikipedia and also mentioned quite a few other places online, the very first milk tea was actually made from hot black Taiwan tea and it was not served cold. The tapioca balls were added–though the smaller balls, not the ¼ inch ones, and it was topped with both condensed milk and syrup.  Now that would have been one sweet cup of tea!  As mentioned before, these days it is generally made using ice and served as a cold tea drink not as hot tea.

Can You Make Your Own Bubble Tea?

Yes, you can. I will try to dig up some recipes for bubble tea and post them soon. It is possible to make them without buying expensive bubble tea equipment though of course the equipment does make the job a whole lot easier, especially if you are making a lot of bubble tea.

So if you haven’t yet experienced bubble tea I’d suggest you do so. There are so many varieties to choose from, some with and some without tapioca balls, that you will most likely be sure to find something that suits your tastes. And, if tea is not your favorite, try some of the great tasting fruit slushies that are also often served as well.

 

 

Green Tea Side Effects

April 11th, 2011

I recently read a fairly comprehensive article online regarding green tea side effects. It was well researched and fairly unbiased; however I did have some questions regarding the article. From my perspective, having lived for close to 30 years in countries where green tea and oolong tea were consumed in large quantities by a huge cross section of the population, I did have to question how factual the presentation was. While the person writing the article clearly stated that side effects were rarely seen and the benefits far outweigh the side effects a few may experience, the detail given to the side effects could cause some to reconsider adding this tea to their diet–which is, in my opinion, a shame as it really is a fantastic beverage that has actually physically bettered many people’s health and well being.

Green Tea Caffeine Levels

The first cited side effect was relating to the amount of caffeine in green tea. As is well documented, caffeine levels in green tea are low; much lower than in coffee or regular black tea, and much lower than what is found in many popular carbonated drinks. It is important to realize that while green tea does have some caffeine that should not be cited as a reason for people not to drink it. True, some people are very sensitive to caffeine and as such common sense should tell them not to drink anything that has caffeine in it, including cokes or cappuccinos.

Regarding green tea caffeine levels, there are some workarounds that would help you to continue enjoying the tea without experiencing any of the side-effects of the minimal amount of caffeine if you are sensitive to it. First of all, you will find that there is a great selection of decaffeinated green tea available. This will enable you to still enjoy the health benefits without having to suffer with any of the caffeine effects. Generally though, these teas are less beneficial to you health wise than regular green tea. But if the only way you can enjoy green tea is by drinking decaf green tea, then go ahead and do so.  Some great decaf green teas to try include Good Earth Organic Green Tea Decaffeinated(Mango, Peach, & Pineapple Flavor), 18 Count Tea Bags, 1.14-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6), or for those who like K-cups you can try Celestial Seasonings Decaffeinated Green Tea, K-cups For Keurig Brewers, 24-count, Boxes (Pack of 2) .

Photo By: A Girl With Tea

Another tip, which I have found very helpful, is that it is always the first cup that has the most caffeine content. Providing you are drinking good quality, loose leaf tea (which you should be if you are drinking green or wulong tea) you can simply pour a cup of just boiled water into your first pot of tea and allow it to sit for five to seven minutes.  Dump the first cup of tea and then pour hot water over the same leaves. This pot of tea will have significantly less caffeine in it. You may think that the first pot of tea is naturally the best, so why dump it out? Many people claim that is true, however routinely tea masters in Japan and China will always dump the first pot of tea out in any case before making a second pot which is served to guests? Why? There are several reasons, but one is that it cleans the leaves and removes any dust or debris that may have collected on the leaves. If it is good enough for tea masters and tea enthusiasts to simply wait and drink the second brewed pot of tea, it is good enough for me!

The second side effect of green tea discussed was that it can cause indigestion, bloating or nausea. It can cause an increase in the amount of stomach acid produced, as can many other substances. Again, common sense should kick in; if you have a sensitive stomach or problems with indigestion or ulcers you will need to be careful about everything you eat or drink, not just green tea. I found it difficult to grasp why this would be singled out as a side-effect of green tea, when in fact in this context it is like saying onions cause indigestion or that a side effect of eating dairy products include stomach problems. This, I felt, was a little like putting the cart before the donkey.

However, if you do suffer from indigestion or some other digestive disorder yet you still want to experience the benefits derived from drinking green tea you may want to experiment with some of the other natural Asian teas instead. For example oolong (or wulong as it is also called) has been found to be easier on the stomach for some people, especially the more aged varieties.

Another suggestion was to add milk and sugar to the tea. I find this suggestion distasteful–but again, I have spent more of my life in Asia than in Western countries where milk or cream is regularly added to black tea. Perhaps the better suggestion was to use less loose leaves when brewing the tea, making it half strength instead.

Photo By: Nathan Wong

Finally there were the regular warnings not to drink it while pregnant, not to give green tea to children and not to overdose on green tea extract tablets. I have seen many pregnant women drink a cup or two of green tea without any side-effects whatsoever. Perhaps in this instance the warning should be towards moderation rather than totally cutting it out from your diet. As far as children drinking green tea; in essence any caffeinated drink is harmful for children and as such I agree that children do not need to drink green tea. Nor do they need to drink carbonated drinks either! Yet, many still do. One good caution which is worth repeating was that many of the green tea energy drinks sold, which are often chosen by children as a healthy alternative to other carbonated drinks, are not really at all hea
lthy for them in spite of  what the label may suggest.

How Many Calories In A Cup Of Tea?

March 29th, 2011

Have you ever asked yourself, “How many calories in a cup of tea?” If you are a regular tea drinker and you have been trying to lose weight at any time, it is probable that you have wondered about the calorie count in tea–especially after hearing that some teas; notably green tea and wulong tea can actually aid in weight loss.

The good news is that tea without added sugar, milk or cream is considered to have zero calories. So, if you are really trying to lose weight and you are counting every calorie you may want to skip adding anything to your tea.

The more sugar, milk or cream added to your cup of tea, the higher the calorie count goes. While adding a little milk and sugar to a cup of black tea may not seem to add on very many calories you do have to consider how many cups of tea you drink each day. For example, my parents routinely drank two cups of tea with breakfast, two for morning tea, two with their lunch, two with their afternoon tea, two after dinner and two cups before bed–for a total of twelve cups of tea a day providing guests did not drop by. (If they did, they would routinely be sat down for a “cuppa or two”.)

Worst case scenario: Full cream milk and two teaspoons of sugar goes in each cup of tea. You are looking at around 70 to 80 calories per cup of tea. Twelve cups of tea at 80 calories per cup adds up to around 960 calories per day! If you are trying to lose weight that really is 960 calories that you can probably do without.

Of course, cutting back on the amount of sugar or using stevia or some other sugar substitute instead will cut back on the amount of calories used. Using reduced fat instead of whole cream milk does not make that much difference considering the amount most people use in their tea. Using non-dairy creamers in your tea will add almost as many calories per teaspoon as sugar! So, don’t think switching from milk to creamer is going to help reduce calories in your tea–it won’t.

If you want to cut back on the amount of calories per cup of tea consider omitting sugar from your tea. The little milk you add will not cause you to gain weight, but the sugar might. Best of all you may want to simply stick to tea without any sugar, milk or cream.

Photo By: Arnold Gatilao

If you want to benefit from the additional, and proven, weight loss properties of some types of tea you may even want to switch to drinking wulong or green tea. People who have traditionally drank black tea all their lives are sometimes hesitant about switching to Chinese teas, in spite of their health benefits. If you are thinking about switching and trying Chinese teas I would suggest you opt for wulong (or oolong) tea. It does not taste quite as strong as many of the green teas you can buy. For a delicious tasting oolong that really does almost taste similar to black tea with milk (at least as far as Asian teas go) you may want to look for one called “Milk Oolong” or “Milky Oolong”. It is available from many shops that sell oolong teas and it really is quite delicious–a great tea to transition onto if you’re thinking about trying some different types of teas and you want to buy tea that is healthy and yet a little different.