By: LIERIN EHMKE
Edited By: ARYA ROERIG
With the change of leaves and temperature comes a change in our attitude—we trade in our shorts and swimsuits for boots and sweaters and our iced coffees and Arnold Palmers for apple cider and pumpkin spiced lattes. It seems like an autumn tradition to bundle up and indulge in the latest seasonal drink from Starbucks or the local coffee shop, but with the whipped topping, cream and sugar, the calories add up fast. It’s no wonder why many waistlines expand during the colder months.
But satisfying and healthy substitutions are closer, and cheaper, than you might think. Tea isn’t just for hippies or Brits, and the flavors and aromas well exceed that of the basic Lipton. There are no calories, fat or sugar, but the additional health benefits look much more appealing than any latte at the local coffee shop.
For thousands of years tea has been a key to health, happiness and wisdom. According to WebMD.com, studies have shown that tea may help prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It can also encourage weight loss and mental sharpness.
Never being a big coffee drinker, Allison Berry, a senior at Indiana University, became an avid tea lover during her internship in New York City. She began looking into types of teas to see which would give her more energy and what kind of health benefits she would take from it.
“Really the biggest thing that has gotten me hooked to tea and being an avid tea drinker has been the absence of sugar,” Berry said. “I never feel jittery after drinking it, I just feel refreshed and energized.”
True teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant of China and India. These don’t include herbal blends which have different benefits. There are four types of teas that come from this plant: green, black, white and oolong tea. According to health.com, all four types contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, but they all also have their own characteristics and origins.
Green tea is made with steamed leaves and is widely considered the most powerful of the teas. It contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the most active and abundant type of polyphenol. Because of this, green tea has been linked to prevention of bladder, breast, stomach and pancreatic cancer. Studies have also shown it to unclog arteries, burn fat, reduce chances of stroke and help to prevent neurological disorders.
Black tea is made with fermented tea leaves, therefore has the highest caffeine content of all teas. It heightens mental sharpness and studies have shown that it may protect lungs from the damages caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. Many teas, like chai and Earl Grey, use black tea as its base.
White tea is unfermented and, according to WebMD.com, has the most potent anticancer properties.
Oolong tea is a partially fermented tea linked to lowering bad cholesterol levels. Many have claimed that types of oolong tea can be linked to weight loss.
At the peak of her tea drinking, Berry would consume 5 cups a day. She noted that she rarely felt fatigued, jittery or “on edge,” and that the tea would “fill me up throughout the day,” and caused her to lose weight.
“Even though I drink them, I don’t like sugary drinks; I’m not really responding to the caffeine as much as I respond to the sugar,” she said. “With the tea I know my body is reacting purely to the tea and not to any sort of additives. I feel more energized and I don’t feel like I drank a whole bowl of sugar.”
Berry’s tea of choice is a blend of Teavana’s Samurai Chai Mate and Apple Leon Pomegranate. “If I could just drink one tea for the rest of my life it would be that,” Berry said. She also suggests purchasing the Tazo Green or Tazo Chai Tea for those wanting to buy tea from a local grocer.
Starbucks, which is known for providing specialty seasonal drinks during the colder months, also sells Tazo tea. Their famous Pumpkin Spice Latte packs 380 calories, 49 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of fat for a grande, and Starbucks’ other specialty autumn drink, Salted Carmel Latte, has 420 calories, 16 grams of fat and 56 grams of sugar for a grande. You can cut out all of these extra calories, sugar and fat just by replacing the drink with one of their teas, and you don’t have to sacrifice taste or satisfaction.
- Pumpkin Spice Latte: A Tazo Chai will give you the same spicy sensation as this latte, and the scent and warmth is perfect for fall weather. With no cream or sugar added, it’s zero calories.
- Salted Carmel Latte/Mocha/White Chocolate Mocha: A Vanilla Rooibos has a sweet scent that is perfect for satisfying any sugar craving. With its aroma, it’s the perfect replacement for any sweet latte.
- Peppermint Mocha: The Refresh tea has a hint of mint similar to this famous Holiday beverage. It doesn’t have the same chocolaty aspect, but the awakening aspect of the mint is fitting for the holiday season.
- Coconut Crème Frappuccino: The Passion tea is incredibly sweet and aromatic with zero calories. It’s the perfect substitute for any fruity beverage.
Replacing coffees and lattes with tea is simple and much less expensive than a specialty order. After a few weeks of utilizing the replacement your body, waistline and wallet will thank you.