By Jennifer M. Wood, MS, RDN | www.anutritiousdish.com

Tea is one of the most popular beverages around the world and with the cooler weather settling in here in Minnesota, it time to start enjoying this delicious beverage. But what’s the difference between black tea, green tea, or even oolong tea?

All true tea plants come from the same species and it’s the processing that is responsible for the various characteristics of tea. Black tea comes from leaves that have been fermented before heated and dried. This results in a reddish-brown brew with a slightly more assertive taste.

Green tea is favored among Asians, and is produced from leaves that have been steamed and dried but not fermented. This results in a greenish-yellow brew that is a touch more bitter, and tastes closer to the actual tea leaf.

Oolong tea is made from leaves that are only slightly fermented resulting in a flavor and color that falls between that of black tea and green tea.

So what about nutrition? Tea is full of antioxidants and studies show it is protective to the heart. The flavonoids in tea seem to prevent oxidation of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, reduce blood clotting and help “open up” the blood vessels in the heart. These are some of the ways that tea seems to decrease the incidence of heart attacks, lower cholesterol and significantly lower blood pressure.

But it’s teas delicious flavor that has American’s enjoying their cup of tea. And one way to enjoy tea in this cool fall weather is by making a Chai Tea.

To make delicious Chai Tea you will need:

6 Cardomon Seeds, bruised by pressing open with a spoon
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp. ground ginger or 1 sm. piece fresh ginger peeled and sliced
4 cups water
4 tsp. black tea
1½ Tbsp. honey
¼ cup milk

Bring spices and water to a boil; reduce heat to low. Place tea in a tea infuser and place into hot water. Add honey and simmer slightly for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks, pour into cups and enjoy.