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Tea is hospitable and healthy
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Sources disagree on whether black tea has more or less caffeine than the other types: It seems to depend on individual batches of tea. Generally, though a cup of regular black tea has only 40 milligrams of caffeine, about half as much as in the same about of coffee and equal to the amount in a cup of cola.Rites of tea
Along with selecting a fine tea, fans have different rituals and recipes, calling for different types of teapots, from traditional metal or china pots to pre-heated clay pots that release flavors into the brew. Some pots are covered with velvet "cozies" that look like tiny suits to me. Tea aficionados differ on ways to contain the leaves (paper bags and filters, muslin bags, metal balls and strainers, among others), the benefits of starting with cold tap water versus filtered water, and more. The Japanese have a special tea-drinking ceremony that can last as long as four hours.Making a perfect cuppa
When making tea, the darker the leaves, the longer you can let it brew. Many people like black tea brewed 3 to 5 minutes in boiling water, while paler white tea is said to be best brewed for less than a minute in water not quite hot enough to boil. Use about a teaspoon of loose tea (or one tea bag) for two 8-ounce cups of hot water.
If you want homemade iced tea, brew a teaspoon of tea in a cup of water, add sugar if you like while it's still hot, then add a cup of ice.
Speaking of sugar, popular tea companions also include honey, milk and lemon--but never make my mistake of adding milk and then curdling it by adding lemon.
Green and white teas are meant for drinking plain.
If you have iron-deficiency anemia, you should know that tea can impair iron absorption slightly. You can counteract this by drinking tea between, not with meals.Some like it iced
While hot tea has been drunk for thousands of years in Asia, iced tea is purported to be a new invention, dating from the 1904 World's Fair, held in sweltering St. Louis. Apparently, no one wanted to drink tea until an Englishman had the bright idea of adding ice to the previously steamy cups.
If you are a tea purist, you probably prefer iced tea plain. And on the other hand, plenty of people like tea punches made with iced tea, seltzer and orange or pineapple juices.
JENNIFER MOTL welcomes reader questions via her Web site, brighteating.com, or mailed to Nutrition, The Free Lance-Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401.