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  • Tea Time

  • Although it's been around for 5,000 years, people are at last discovering the benefits of tea. Not only does it provide inner warmth on frosty New England days, it may also ward off disease.

    Think of tea as a vegetable in a cup. Green, black and oolong teas come from a plant that shares some of the antioxidants of leafy greens like broccoli and spinach. These natural chemicals are most potent in the minutes after fresh brewing. Tea also contains high levels of cathechin, the same health-promoting substancel found in red wine. Unfortunately, popular herbal teas can't make the same claim because they are derived from flowers and plants that do not have the same antioxidant properties.

    Researchers believe the dynamic disease-fighting duo of cathechin and antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. While studies are not yet definitive on its healing powers, tea is a good alternative to coffee due to its lower caffeine content. To brew the perfect cup, steep fresh leaves, either bagged or loose. The green variety requires 5 to 10 minutes of steeping, compared to just 3 minutes for black.