Take Heart with Heart-Healthy Teas
Be honest with yourself: how often do you think about your heart?
Usually, it’s in the metaphorical sense—love, emotion, all those warm fuzzy feelings that make us curl up with a cup of tea and Google the correct spelling of “hygge.”
But let’s not forget that the heart is a living organ, as well! It’s a pumping, breathing machine that needs just as much nourishment and understanding as any other part of our body.
As we’ve covered before on Teamuse, you can use tea to take care of your skin when it’s dry and itchy. You can also use tea to take care of your stomach when your digestion is awry. Now you can use it to take care of that gorgeous, blood-circulating vessel in your ribcage—and learn something about yourself in the process.
In matters of the heart, first on your list should be red fruit teas.
The best examples of red fruits are:
Tomatoes (Oh yes!)
Bell and cayenne peppers (Them, too.)
These are all caffeine-free, therefore anyone can drink them without fear—and sometimes, just that flavor punch of antioxidants can be enough. I’m talking Dewy Cherry in particular. This tea contains sour cherries, apples, orange peels, rosehips, and hibiscus, and you want to zero in on all the red items in that ingredient list. Those are the highest in anthocyanins, which are the compound that causes plants and other veggie matter to turn red in the autumn. Anthocyanins are naturally sweet—being essentially caramelized chlorophyll—and are linked to anti-inflammatory properties as well as cardiovascular health.
Next up is white tea. Due to the lack of heat treatment that goes into the processing of black and green teas, the delicate flavanoids in this type of tea are kept safe and snug in their cellular homes, ready to burst forth in your cup. (When steeped properly. Err on the low end of the thermometer, please!) These flavanoids have been studied for their benefits against heart disease—something you definitely want in your back pocket. Surprisingly, White tea is also a mild blood thinner, which in fact helps keep the arteries running smoothly. More power to you!
Pick up a cup of White Eternal Spring while we’re waiting for the budding season. This tea contains a number of sexy red fruit—rosehips, cranberries, apple pieces—plus the added benefits of blueberry, mango, pineapple, and rose petals. It’s a banquet of fruit and flowers, warm and golden-sweet for those brisk days when summer is just ahead of us.
However, make sure that you’re aware of your caffeine tolerance! White tea can be more caffeinated than black tea when burned, since boiling water causes the cell structure to break, and while you’re getting the flood of antioxidants in your cup, it will immediately release a load of caffeine at the same time. That being said, you should remember to steep it lightly if you’re sensitive. Under-boiling water (approximately 175 degrees Fahrenheit) keeps the cell barrier intact, so that the caffeine is safely locked away while the antioxidants may still diffuse into the cup. You’ll reap a softer, sweeter flavor in the long run, and preserve your sleep while you’re at it.
Rooibos is your third heart-helper. This caffeine-free, though nonetheless stimulating, plant is the secret cardiovascular weapon of South African athletes. It contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals that puts it in the same class as popular sports drinks—only without the sugar, and it has the added benefit of calming the nervous system. Be still, my beating heart indeed. Adagio carries both green and red rooibos, both equally beneficial, yet radically different in taste. Green tends to be grassier, almost like a sencha-y chamomile—in other words, herbaceous—while red is nutty, autumnal, and makes you want to jump into a sweet-smelling pile of leaves. Try Green Rooibos Blueberry to work in more of those excellent anthocyanins.
When it comes to preparing rooibos, it’s one of the most user-friendly teas out there. The traditional South African fashion is to drink it thick and strong, with a touch of milk—almost like a latté! To replicate this, punch up the concentration with at least 4 teaspoons per cup. Rooibos pairs best with coconut milk, though almond, soy, and rice milks are a close second. For added sweetness, tap it lightly with tea honey or rock sugar. (Raw, local honey is best when you can swing it! It’s got some healthy probiotics in there.)
Whichever tea you choose, the key to reaping the most reward is just to enjoy the heck out of your cup. The simple act of drinking without stress reduces overall oxidative stress on your body throughout the day—and all the antioxidants in the world can’t beat a good, deep breath.
Peace and cheers!
Dedicated to the study of health and wellness, Natasha Nesic is a Certified International Tea Masters Association Tea Sommelier and Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She trains, writes, and consults throughout New York and has a passion for pairing tea with the unexpected: movement, music, and coffee. For more of her work, check out her website and Medium.