By: Jacklyn Tran – Ethnic Seattle

January 14, 2016

At the end of each December, reflections on the past year lead to determined goals, hopeful promises, and visions of what the New Year may have in store. Full bellies transition into fully utilized gym memberships (for a few weeks into January at least) and cups of good cheer are traded for cups of good health. As we enter the second month of winter, dreadful weather forces us into a weekly regimen that incorporates hot soups, hot sips, and anything else that can keep us warm.

For those who have found that an overhaul of their diet plan is often too difficult and without intended results, a good old cup of tea may be the simple, warm, wholesome answer to a new healthful lifestyle. Here’s a few reasons why:

Tea Has Zero-Calories

Trading a cup of soda with a cup of tea during the day can do wonders. It knocks off hundreds of empty, sugary calories that have no nutritional value, replaced instead with a drink that is touted as having antioxidants and other healing properties.

Tea Helps With Digestion

traditional-756493_640According to the Huffington Post, “green tea or other hot teas before a meal supports enzymatic activity and helps enhance your digestive abilities. It’s best to add liquids 30 minutes before or after meals, not during.” Drinking during the meal dilutes digestive enzymes that are working to properly digest our food.

Shiuwen Tai, owner of Floating Leaves Tea, adds, “hot tea aids in digestion no matter what kind, but pu-erh tea seems to be effective for those who need help with digestion, upset stomach or have eaten something not clean. I use that tea when I’ve eaten food that is not okay. It helps to cleanse.”

Tai also advises talking to a doctor or herbalist for specific recommendations that pertain to diet and the importance of listening to ones own body in trying to decide what is best for oneself.

Tea Detoxes

One serving of matcha tea is nutritionally equivalent to ten cups of regular green tea. It is believed that this chlorophyll-rich tea is a natural way to help cleanse and flush the body of environmental and natural toxins. In addition, matcha is rich in fiber and provides vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium.

Tea Can Help Burn Calories and May Help Resist Fat

belly-2354_640Drinking caffeinated green or black tea is a great way to boost calorie-burning and fight fat according to WebMD. With caffeine being a stimulant, it helps increase calories burned by boosting energy levels. Tea flavonoids help increase metabolism and some research suggests that people who exercise and drink green tea lose more weight than those who do not.

While tea has been regarded for centuries in the Eastern Hemisphere as a key element to good health, only more recently have the benefits been more closely studied. From lowering cholesterol, to speeding up metabolism, aiding in brain health or decreasing the chances of certain cancers and other ailments, the studies are promising. Whether you’re picking up a cup for diet or digestion, better sleep or better chances against a cold, there’s a tea for any time and day. Here’s a few places to start:

Recommended Tea Shops

Located in Japan town, Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House, offers loose-leaf teas as well as herbal infusions in addition to espresso drinks, pastries and paninis! Officially pronounced a historical landmark, this charmingly quaint cafe provides a soothing space while also allowing a small glimpse into another time in our history. From the original 1910 hardwood floors, to the memorabilia, to the historical photos of the international district that adorn the walls, it’s one of a kind. A cup or pot of tea can be enjoyed peacefully while seated at one of the many tables. Or for a more impactful lesson in history, one can peer down into the basement through the plexiglass on the floor, where still intact are trunks of belongings left by Japanese Americans prior to their departure into internment camps during WWII.

A hop, skip and a jump away lays New Century Tea Gallery, where the warm space is just as inviting as the staff who welcomes you to browse their store, to peruse the different tea sets they offer or to join them in free tastings where they educate and demonstrate the art of tea through conversation and friendliness. What stands out here is the love for tea that is expressed and the fine assortment that the owners are proud to share at peak levels of flavor and freshness.

In Ballard, Floating Leaves Tea is a tiny space run by Shiuwen Tai, an enthusiast of Taiwanese, Japanese and Chinese teas and of tea culture itself. The teashop which is modeled after the tasting rooms of Tai’s native Taiwan, is not only an oasis of good tea, where $7 tastings can be experienced on a drop in basis, but is also an intimate space where Tai’s passion for tea is felt in a simple conversation with her or through the classes that she offers. Ranging from beginner to advanced levels, students get to explore basic differences, qualities and features to look for, different varietals and regional characteristics, and the tradition of it all.

“I really want people to know how to taste tea,” says Tai, “There’s plenty to read about online but there you can only read about it. When you drink tea with someone who can taste it and point out details to you, it will click right away. I encourage people to find shops in town that can show you their experience and open the door to you. […] You can really find a good cup that will blow your mind away. ”


Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House
607 S Main Street
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 515-4000

New Century Tea Gallery
416 Maynard Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 622-3599

Floating Leaves Tea
1704 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 276-9542


*Please be sure to check with your doctor or a qualified health care professional before staring any new diet and/or exercise program.