By now everyone knows that bodies need hydration. And almost everyone knows they need water – not just anything that’s liquid. But some have not developed a taste for plain water.
Smart manufacturers know that, so they sell pop under a different name: Flavored water.
This is not good news for people who are trying to boost their health by drinking water. Most of that flavored water is either just as full of sugar as a can of pop, or full of artificial sweeteners, which carry their own health hazards. Either way, they’re NOT a healthy alternative to water.
If you or your children are among those who don’t enjoy the taste of water, try one or more of these solutions:
Freeze ice cubes with 100%, all-natural fruit juice and add to your water for a little flavor.
Squeeze lemon, or grapefruit into your water for zest. If you must have sweetness, add just a touch of real sugar or stevia.
Drink green tea. (A health drink on its own – but NOT if you add artificial sweetener.)
Add just a dash of cranberry juice for a touch of sweetness.
Add some crushed mint, lime and stevia.
Fill your glass with ice first, then add water and wait a minute. When I was in college and the water in the dorm didn’t taste good, we used that trick to make it better. Remember that you DO need the water, both for hydration and to flush toxins from your system.
One of the side effects of flavored water is weight gain. Many manufacturers flavor their water with fructose or High Fructose Corn Syrup-both of which are dangerous to your health.
Moreover, in a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, (June 2004, 2963-72) researchers found that fructose affects the hormones involved in appetite regulation.
A drink high in fructose caused a reduction in levels of the hormone leptin, which lets you know that you have eaten enough, and causes high levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates eating. So, when eating or drinking fructose, you get a double whammy. Nothing to tell you you’re full, and plenty to tell you to eat more.
Artificial sweeteners are just as bad. Along with causing some other health issues, researchers are finding that artificial sweeteners make people hungrier. That could be why you see so many obese people carrying around a can of diet soda.
The bottom line: Flavored water can make you fat and sickly.
There are truly more flavored teas out there than we can taste. To decide which you should try, there are several things you should consider. Taking a look at these items will help you narrow down the many choices in flavored tea.
- The tea variety – If you’re partial to one variety of tea (black, oolong, white or green) you’ll likely want to choose your flavored teas from these favored varieties.
- The quality of the tea – Choose only loose tea that is from the highest tea grades and from early tea pluckings. Quality teas come from gardens that are able to process the tea by hand, ensuring the best flavor.
- The quality of the flavorings – The best flavored teas use only natural flavorings. Teas flavored with artificial flavors will taste fake and be of inferior quality.
Another way to determine the best tea blends for you is to consider the additions that blend best with the particular type of tea you like to drink.
Black tea is the strongest of all teas, so it can handle more pungent and stronger flavors that might overpower white or green teas. Flavors like chocolate, coffee and strong fruits like currants and plums are delicious with black tea, but might be too strong for white or green tea. On the other hand, delicate flavors like mango and pear might be overpowered by black tea.
Green tea has a very natural and plant like tea, with a mild sweetness. This means that green tea can be paired with nearly any fruit flavor. In addition, green tea works beautifully with many herbs and spices, like mint and ginger, as long as they’re not too pungent.
White tea is very light and delicate and can be easily overpowered. On the other hand, it can also be beautifully enhanced by the right fruit or floral. Melon, licorice, pears, peaches, jasmine and roses are all very good pairings with white tea.
Oolong tea is a bit more difficult to predict because it has very complex flavors on its own. Much of the flavor of the oolongs is dependent upon how long the tea is fermented, as some oolongs are fermented long enough to be very close to a black tea, while others are fermented for a shorter time, making them closer to a green tea. Many oolongs have a bit of a peach flavor, and flavoring them with peach pieces enhances this natural flavor quite nicely. Some oolong teas also have a nutty flavor, making them pair well with nut flavors like almond.
In general, oolong teas can always be counted on to pair beautifully with medium bodied fruit flavors, like oranges and apples. In addition, they pair very well with medium spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Finally, oolong teas can also be flavored with some florals, like rose, jasmine and orchid, as long as the oolong tea itself is not too strong in flavor.
Of course, many of us shop for flavored tea simply by seeing what’s available from our favorite tea shop and choosing the flavors that sound good to us. Choosing our favorite tea blends this way help us to choose based on the varieties and blends that our favorite tea merchants are selling. This is a good way to choose simply because it helps ensure that we’re getting the best quality in flavored teas. If you trust your tea merchant, then you know he carries only the best.
Therefore, if I choose the flavors that sound good to me from what he has to offer, I’m relatively certain that I’ll love what I’ve purchased. For example, I recently bought a coconut pouchong tea, which is not a flavor combination I would have put together on my own. However, it was a wonderful and refreshing tea that I have really enjoyed.
Flavored teas are available in every imaginable combination of tea and flavoring; some even with multiple flavorings. For example, one of my all time favorite teas is pineapple ginger green tea. When you consider all the possible combinations, it seems impossible to try them all in your lifetime.
For those of you who are on the adventurous side, here are three of the wildest flavored teas I’ve heard of :
- Coffee flavored tea (for those who like the best of both worlds, I suppose)
- Chocolate and rose petal tea
- Thyme Tea
Now, none of these teas are on my list of “must try” teas for the future, but to some of you they might sound quite appealing. I’m a fruit and spice tea person, personally, but I’m open to suggestions by my favorite tea companies.
Finally, it’s not a bad idea to choose your flavored teas for their health benefits. We all know that green and white teas contain the highest level of natural anti-oxidants of any teas. So, combining these tea with other very healthy and anti-oxidant laden botanicals gives you a real health and anti-aging powerhouse. Consider a green or white tea flavored with the following products for health reasons:
- Pomegranate or blueberry – these two fruits contain the most powerful anti-oxidants available in any foods.
- Cinnamon – a powerful metabolism booster, cinnamon in tea can help you lose weight
- Melon – Melon contains GliSODin, an anti-oxidant that is powerful in its own right, but is even more special because it has been shown to help your body make its own anti-oxidants.
- Ginger – great for those with stomach ailments, regular consumption of ginger has even been shown to help heal ulcers.
So, choose your flavored teas using the method that suits you best, but by all means choose some flavored teas to add to your daily drinking repertoire. You’ll never tire of the many wonderful tastes you can find in flavored tea.