Jody Victor Talks About the Benefits of Green Tea

Recent studies have shown that teas, especially green tea, have benefits beyond their wonderful flavors and aromas.

The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times. References to tea in Chinese literature go back approximately 5,000 years. Ancient folklore place the beginning of brewing tea as a beverage at 2737 BC, when a camellia blossom drifted into a cup of boiled drinking water belonging to Emperor Shen Nung. At various times throughout history, China’s national drink has been designated as the state currency and at times used as cash. The elevation of tea drinking to an art form began in the eighth century, with the publication of Lu Yu’s “The Classic Art of Tea”. His work contained several practical tips for manufacturing tea, many of which are still in use today.

Even with the vast variety of choices, tea lovers today are surprised to learn that all tea comes from the same source: the Camilla Sinensis bush. And while there are hundreds of varieties of teas most fall into four basic categories based on their processing. The four categories are green, black, oolong, and scented. Only green tea is steamed, which prevents the leaves’ compounds from being oxidized by fermentation. Steaming causes no loss or weakening of the medicinal qualities of the leaves. Black teas are made from fermented leaves and oolong teas are partially fermented. Scented teas are made by mixing various flowers and petals with green (non-fermented) or oolong (partially fermented) teas.

Tea leaves consist of 75-80% water. The remaining components, catechin, caffeine, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, help form the variety of flavors. The primary medicinal value of green tea lies in the fact that it is rich in catechin polyphenols. Catechins are powerful, water-soluble antioxidants. Tea contains four main catechins: EC, ECG, EGC and EGCG. Researchers believe that catechins are effective medicinally because they easily stick to proteins, blocking bacteria from adhering to cell walls and disrupting their ability to destroy them. This blocking mechanism provides extensive health benefits by protecting the body from cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, infections and impaired immune function.

EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is the most powerful of green tea’s catechins. As an antioxidant it is 25-100 times more potent than vitamins C and E. One cup of green tea provides 10-40 mg of polyphenols and has antioxidant effects greater than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots, or strawberries. EGCG detoxifies by connecting with poisonous substances and harmful heavy metals (lead, chrome, mercury, etc.) and dissolving them. EGCG is also effective in lowering LDL cholesterol by connecting with it and absorbing and blocking it. This prevents the narrowing of blood vessels and inhibits the abnormal formation of blood clots (thrombosis), which is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

One cup of green tea contains about 15-30 mg of caffeine, depending on the age of the leaves at picking time. Young buds contain higher amounts of caffeine than mature buds. Caffeine provides health benefits as a stimulant and as a detoxifying diuretic. It also activates blood circulation. When caffeine is taken together with exercise, body fat is metabolized as an energy source rather than depleting glycogen stores. If caffeine is not desired there are processed decaffeinated teas available. Decaffeinated tea undergoes one of two processes. The first uses a solvent (ethyl acetate) and retains only 30% of the polyphenols. The second is a natural process using only water and carbon dioxide, called effervescence. It retains 95% of the healthy polyphenols. Dr. Andrew Weil, noted doctor and nutritionist, has a simple home solution for decaffeinating tea without losing the valuable nutrients. He suggests steeping the tea for 45 seconds in hot water and then pouring off the liquid. Next, add more hot water and steep as usual. Up to 80% of the caffeine is released in the first diffusion, with very little flavor and aroma being lost.

There are about 20 different types of amino acids in tea. More than 60% of these amino acids consist of theanine, which is unique to green tea because the steaming process does not eliminate it. Theanine counteracts caffeine and lessens its effect as a stimulant. L-theanine is a healthy amino acid found only in tea plants and certain mushrooms. In addition, green tea contains many helpful vitamins: A (promotes good vision), B1 (metabolizes sugars), B2 (builds red blood cells), B3 (releases energy from foods), C (antiviral/antibacterial), E (prevents heart disease), and F (prevents tooth decay).

In recent years more than 500 studies have been conducted worldwide to research the potential health benefits of green tea. With the myriad of benefits being discovered one “Ancient Chinese Proverb” can easily be called a “Modern Chinese Proverb” as well:

“Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.”

Jody Victor’s Perfect Cup of Coffee

There’s nothing like a steaming-hot, flavorful cup of coffee – it’s all in the technique…

Each brewing method has advantages and disadvantages. No matter which roast and method you select, keep these points in mind and you’ll always make a perfect cup of coffee.

  • Measure ground coffee for consistent results. If you like a bold cup of coffee, try 2 tablespoons ground coffee for each 6-ounce cup. Because coffee strength is a matter of personal preference, experiment until you find the perfect measure for your taste.
  • Start with fresh, cold water to make coffee. If your coffee tastes bitter or unusual, the water could be the cause. Highly chlorinated water, water treated by a softener, and hard water can all affect your coffee’s flavor. A simple solution is to use bottled water or a water filter. Consider water, like ground coffee, an essential ingredient in making a great cup of coffee.
  • If using the manual drip method, let the water come to a full boil; then take the kettle off the heat and pause for a moment before pouring the water into the coffee. The flavor compounds in coffee that taste best are released by water at less-than-boiling temperatures; 195 to 205 degrees F is optimal.
  • If using an automatic drip coffeemaker, do not leave coffee on the warming plate – it can quickly develop a bitter, burnt taste. Transfer the coffee to an airtight thermal carafe to keep it warm.
  • About filters: For sediment-free coffee, paper filters are best, but some people prefer using fine-mesh gold-plated filters. These last a long time and also allow some sediment and flavorful oils to seep into the coffee, adding a character that some people enjoy.

Tip – Use multiple carafes for brunches or other events where coffee is quickly consumed.

Jody Victor Tries New Coffee Methods

If you are a coffee lover, try steeping to get that “perfect cup”…

A cafetiere (or French press) is a tall, narrow cylinder with a plunger that includes a metal or nylon mesh filter. Coffee is placed in the cylinder and boiling water is poured in. The coffee and hot water are left in the cylinder for a few minutes (typically 4-7) and the plunger is pushed down leaving the filter immediately above the grounds. Depending on the type of filter, it is important to pay attention to the grind of the coffee beans, though a rather coarse grind is almost always called for. A plain glass cylinder may be used or a vacuum flask arrangement to keep the coffee hot (not to be confused with a vacuum brewer).

Coffee bags are less often used than tea bags. They are simply disposable bags containing coffee;  the grounds do not mix with the water so no extra filtering is required.

Malaysian coffee is often brewed using a “sock”, which is really just a muslin bag shaped like a filter into which coffee is loaded then steeped into hot water. This method is especially suitable for use with local-brew coffees in Malaysia, primarily of the varieties Robusta and Liberica which are often strong-flavored, allowing the ground coffee in the sock to be reused.

A vacuum brewer consists of two chambers: a pot below, atop which is set a bowl or funnel with its siphon descending nearly to the bottom of the pot. The bottom of the bowl is blocked by a filter of glass, cloth or plastic, and the bowl and pot are joined by a gasket that forms a tight seal. Water is placed in the pot, the coffee grounds are placed in the bowl, and the whole apparatus is set over a burner. As the water heats, it is forced by the increasing vapor pressure up the siphon and into the bowl where is mixes with the grounds. When all the water possible has been forced into the bowl the brewer is removed from the heat. As the water vapor in the pot cools, it contracts, forming a partial vacuum and drawing the coffee down through the filter.

The AeroPress is a device invented in 2005 that combines steeping and pressure. Hot water is poured onto ground coffee, similarly to a French press, but soon after the coffee is forced through a paper micro-filter using pressure. This filter allows a finer grind and removes more of the sediment than the stainless steel mesh filter of a French press.

Jody Victor Gives the History of Tea in America

In 1772, tea tax was causing problems in Great Britain’s colonies in America. While other taxes on goods bound for America had been repealed, the three pence per pound of tea remained firm.

It was in place to offset the bankrupt British East India Company. Over a five-year period, the colonies paid duty on almost 2 million pounds of tea. Enraged by the tea tax and other shipping restrictions, The Sons of Liberty attempted to block the shipments of tea from arriving in Philadelphia and New York. On December 16, 1773, The Sons of Liberty let two ships sail into Boston Harbor. Disguised as Native American Indians, they emptied 342 large chests of tea into the harbor. This later came to be known as the Boston Tea Party. These actions by the colonists led the Parliament to pass a series of laws known as the “Intolerable Acts”. They limited the political freedom of the citizens and ultimately led to the Revolutionary War. In many ways, tea helped provide a cause for American independence.

Although the first tea was discovered in China, several other areas of the world now contribute to the overall tea harvest. The first tea used in England originated in China, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that tea growing spread to Formosa and that indigenous tea was discovered in Assam. In 1839, the first Indian tea was sold in London. The first tea in Africa was planted in the Cape in 1687, but did not progress until the latter part of the 19th century. The 20th century has seen the spread of tea in Africa, notably in Kenya.

The history of tea dates back almost 5,000 years and tea itself now has more than 3,000 different variations. The most widely consumed beverage in the world has both a historical and cultural importance that cannot be rivaled.

Great Hot Mocha Cocoa for a Winter Night from Jody Victor

For a fun treat the whole family can enjoy on a chilly enening try my cocoa…

Mocha Cocoa

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8 cups milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
Marshmallows or whipped cream, spices, instant coffee (optional)

1. In a 3-1/2 to 5-quart slow cooker combine sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in milk until combined.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 3-4 hours or on high-heat setting for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
3. Serve immediately or keep covered on low-heat setting for up to 2 hours. Just before serving, stir in vanilla. If desired, carefully beat milk mixture with a rotary beater until frothy. Ladle cocoa into mugs. If desired, top each serving with marshmallows or whipped cream. Makes 10 (6-ounce) servings.

Spicy Cocoa: Prepare as directed, except add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg with the cocoa powder before cooking.

Mocha Cocoa: Prepare as directed, except add 3/4 teaspoon instant coffee crystals to each mug of prepared cocoa; stir to mix.