Who doesn’t love a cup of hot tea during the winter? In addition to its warming powers, tea is also celebrated for its antioxidant properties and health benefits. Research has shown drinking green tea regularly for several weeks can boost the number of catechins, a type of antioxidant, in the blood. Green tea has also been found to boost metabolism and bone strength. As for black tea, research has found drinking it could reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and lung cancer, and protect against cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Those are just a few of the reasons you should get a cup steeping right now. And, while you wait, take a look at the creative ways TIME has suggested to get more brew benefits into your day:
- Creative cooking. Hot green tea is an easy swap in recipes that call for hot water. Use it to cook grains like oatmeal or quinoa. And don’t be afraid to experiment with other teas, like red or white, which can give your dish an exciting new flavor. Just be mindful of tea’s caffeine content when cooking in the evening, so it doesn’t keep you up all night.
- Soup-er tea. Tea can make a great base for soups that normally call for chicken or beef stock. Cook up a noodle soup made with green tea for a tasty lunch.
- Just desserts. Tea finds its calling in a delicious Japanese dessert called “Ochame,” which translates to “tea strawberries.” This is a simple one to make: just dip strawberries in melted white chocolate mixed with green matcha powder for a unique, sweet and bitter flavor.
- Brew right. Not all cups of tea are created equal—brewing times and temperatures can actually affect the amount of antioxidants in your tea. For example, green tea gets a major antioxidant bump when it’s steeped in cold water for two hours rather than brewed hot. So, do some research and follow the directions on the package to get the most out of your teacup.
- The brew for you. In addition to tea’s long-term health benefits, there are also many teas to help with minor day-to-day ailments. Certain types of tea (such as herbal teas) may help you sleep better at night, while others may ease an upset stomach. Take a look at the options and chances are you’ll find the brew that speaks to you.