You can drink your green tea and have it too. This healthful tea can be a drink or a cooking ingredient but, either way, research shows green tea offers important health benefits.

A substance in green tea has been found to halt a specific stage in the cancer process more effectively than current cancer drugs do, according to a recent study discussed at an international research conference sponsored by the American Institute for Cancer Research this past summer.

In Asia, where green tea consumption is high, its regular intake is associated with lower risk of cancers of the breast, colon and several other types of cancer.

Throughout Asia, green tea is used in many types of cooking. In China, loose green tea leaves are toasted in a wok before adding other stir-fry ingredients. In Japan, green tea is used in many commercial products like tea cakes, and many Japanese make a soup with green tea that is often served at the end of a meal or as a late-night snack.

The temperature of the water can affect a tea's flavor as much as the quality and amount of tea used. The higher the water temperature, the more bitter and astringent the tea can be. When brewing high quality green tea, water should always be below boiling.

Never boil the water in an aluminum pot, or steep the tea in pots or cups made of plastic or aluminum, which badly affect the taste.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a good time to think of green tea when choosing a beverage. The following mixture can be used as a dip or spread.

Green Tea Dip and Spread

Yield: 18 tablespoons

Ingredients

  • 3 green tea bags
  • 1 cup reduced-fat cream cheese or ricotta cheese (at room temperature)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely-minced fresh chives or basil leaves

Directions

  1. Place tea bags in a heat-proof glass or ceramic container that holds more than 1 cup. Bring 1 cup of water to just below the boiling point, remove from heat immediately and pour over tea bags. (Water that has come to a boil should first be cooled about 1 minute before using.) Allow the tea to steep 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bags, squeeze out liquid and discard. Cool tea to room temperature. If not using immediately, refrigerate (covered) until ready to use. (Allow refrigerated tea to come to room temperature before using.)
  3. Place cheese and minced herb in a blender and mix on medium-high speed to incorporate herbs into the cheese and produce a smooth mixture.
  4. Gradually add small amounts of the tea concentrate until the mixture is as spreadable as desired. (Remaining concentrate can be diluted and reheated to make iced or hot tea for drinking or refrigerate until ready to use again.)
  5. Transfer the mixture to a covered container and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld. Bring mixture back to room temperature before using, either as a spread for toast at breakfast; a spread for crackers, sandwiches, or wraps; or as a dip for vegetable crudits or toasted tortilla chips.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
31 calories
2 g. total fat
1 g. saturated fat
1 g. carbohydrate
1 g. protein
0 g. dietary fiber
39 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Reduced-Fat Milk