As a 24-year-old single mom, I had a young son in need of life-saving surgery and only $6 in my wallet. But I also had three other powerful motivators: hope, a love of tea, and a dream to share beautiful, aromatic, organic teas with the world. Now, 13 years later, my son is healthy and Zhena's Gypsy Tea is a thriving, purpose-driven, fair-trade, multimillion-dollar brand.
Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water, but in the U.S., it's the sixth-after water, coffee, and several brands of soda. If we drank more tea, we'd be thinner, smarter, and healthier-no kidding!
Tea has been proven to help burn fat, increase clarity and focus, and help our bodies fight free radicals-the very things that age us and cause disease. But, teas' virtues extend far beyond the cup. Here are five unusual uses to make you reconsider throwing that tea bag away.
Tea reduces under-eye puffiness. Black tea bags to reduce bags? Yes! Simply put your breakfast tea bags in a sealed container in the fridge after you use them. I use a mason jar to store mine. Apply the cold tea bags to your eyes for 5-7 minutes. The antioxidants help reduce wrinkles while the caffeine reduces puffiness-this is my favorite trick before a TV appearance or video shoot, and it helps if you love sushi or anything salty which leads to puffier eyes.
Tea soothes sunburn. Brew green or black tea and allow to cool. Once cool, pour it into a spray bottle and use on skin after a day at the beach. The cooling effect of the tea, along with the antioxidants helps to reduce the length and severity of overexposure to sun.
Tea gives you shiny hair. Tea makes a fabulous hair rinse, adding shine and luster to freshly washed hair. For blondes, use chamomile. Brunettes, use black tea. Redheads, use Rooibos. Just steep tea in a pitcher, allow to cool, then rinse freshly conditioned hair.
Tea makes baking better. When baking, you can use tea to enhance and add depth to a recipe. Simmer any butter or oil in a recipe with tea for five minutes, and strain. Use the tea-infused butter in cakes, cookies, even ice cream-you'll not only add delicious flavor, but added antioxidants.
Tea-infused cocktails. The night before you throw a summer party, you can steep your favorite tea overnight in vodka. The next day, make your favorite cocktails with it. I love to steep green tea in organic vodka and make skinny cosmos with it. Mint tea steeped in rum for mojitos adds a phenomenal complexity as well.
Not only is tea unexpectedly useful and uber-healthy, but it can also make a positive impact on peoples' lives around the world. When choosing your tea, look for organic and fair trade-certified options, as these choices help end poverty for tea workers, and also ensure that no pesticides end up in your cup. Here's to your health and happiness as you traverse your very own life by the cup!