Tuesday, September 2, 2014

CHOOSING TEA OVER COFFEE: ONE HUMBLE EXAMPLE OF VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY.

When, a few months ago, my husband and I began to discuss voluntary simplicity, we knew we had a lot of not-so-comfortable decisions to make. This adventure was one that I had been slowly making over the past few years and it was one that I, personally, wholly embraced.  So, when we recently decided to challenge ourselves in new simple ways, we should have known that it was to be a long, strung out adventure, loaded with starts and fits. Unlearning so many things and relearning others is not for the feint-hearted. And, as many posts in this blog attest to, I've had more than a few stumbling efforts toward a more simple life. Yet, yearning for less stress in our lives and more time to enjoy simple pleasures, we continue to travel the rocky road.
Tea gets us off to a good start in the morning.


Luckily, all is going well – so far - and we don’t, even a bit, regret our dedication to a more simple lifestyle. It's the road that allows us to celebrate the joys of gratefulness and appreciation for the NOW of life. So here’s an example of another one of those "everyday" simple choices: we parted from the commonly held belief that coffee is an essential part of a healthy/enjoyable breakfast. And, yes, we were ardent coffee drinkers in the a.m. On the other hand, we tended to drink tea later in the day. 

Beyond that, concern for our health was nudging us to buy better quality products and organic foods, whenever possible. But, what with high food costs, we didn’t have a budget large enough for both good coffee and good tea. As a result, we had been drinking very regular to poor quality tea and coffee. It finally dawned on us that drinking just one of those beverages and eliminating the other was the answer. A quick review of online reports helped us see that tea was the healthier product. We were also aware that tea was a more earth-friendly option as compared to coffee. For example, one source points out that a mug of coffee takes about four times more water in its production than does a mug of tea. (Of course, plain water is a very healthy choice and, by far, the greenest possible beverage. But water, for most of us, doesn't offer the pick-me-up power that coffee and tea do.) 

So, here I’m sharing what I consider to be some more advantages of tea over coffee and why it's our simple choice. 

First, of all, tea has high levels of potent antioxidants and is helpful in preventing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Arguably, coffee has some of these benefits but studies conclude that it has much less than tea. And tea is more relaxing and useful in lowering stress levels while coffee tends to speed up the mind, often adding to stress.

Second, regular tea drinking helps reduce cholesterol levels, relaxing blood vessels and impeding the formation of blood clots. Studies show that drinking three or more cups of tea each day reduce the risk of stroke by more than 20%.

Furthermore, tea tends to be more hydrating to the body than coffee. And tea, relative to coffee, is better for your teeth. Coffee is notorious for discoloration in teeth, while tea is to a lesser extent. Tea even helps prevent of cavities as a result of its powerful antioxidants and serves to fight off many kinds of bacterial and fungal infections.

So, to follow this up, I'll make a plea for organic tea over the non-organic type. It turns out that the huge tea plantations, common in Asia and elsewhere, are among the most environmentally devastating crops. That’s because the chemicals – industrial fertilizers and pesticides - applied to these farms damage the local ecosystem and run down the mountains and to pollute other farmland, rivers and finally to faraway oceans.

The choice of organic teas favors small farmers and small farms over agribusiness. Small farms, often have natural grasses and weeds as ground cover, work better in harmony with nature to manage various pests and usually do not grow tea as a monoculture. In the long-term, industrial fertilizers deplete the soil, making it more difficult for the tea plants to grow without stronger chemicals. This kind of chemical dependence becomes a vicious cycle that harms the tea plants, the farm workers, and the environment.

Finally, as you might imagine, organic tea is better for you because there are remnants of all those chemicals that stay in the leaf structure after processing. And those will be ingested - by you and your family - after the tea is boiled up for drinking.  Some of the negative side effects that people feel from drinking too much tea (such as jitters and sleeplessness) may not be a direct result of the caffeine in tea, but from the chemicals used in conventional tea production.

As you have probably read elsewhere, not all teas - - black, white, green, etc. - are created equal. My husband and I choose green tea, almost exclusively as our daily pick-up beverage. We’ve made the choice of green tea, rather than two or three different types of tea, because we believe it's healthier  - and, again, mostly for simplicity reasons. We also buy bulk tea, thus avoiding higher costs than the small individual envelops and, with less packaging, is the greener option. We enjoy a cup of coffee only when we go out. It tends to make coffee-drinking something special, a treat to be savored, rather than a regular habit. 
 
Here's a parting word to the wise - keep your tea drinking cool. Repeatedly drinking of very hot beverages increases the risk of esophageal cancer. So, let your tea cool off for several minutes before sipping.

And, now, all this midmorning writing is making me thirsty. So, I’m off to brew up a batch of the good stuff — and enjoy what, today, will make my third cup of tea.

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