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Byline: Judith Blake
Ah, for a nice, steaming cup of ... essence of broccoli in green tea? No, thanks, you say?
If so, the makers of an unusual new tea hope you'll reconsider. Brassica Tea, they assert, teams the antioxidant powers of green or black tea with those of broccoli, for a brew that claims extra oomph on the health front. And, no, it doesn't taste like broccoli.
Brassica has joined a flood of teas clamoring for your attention as possible disease fighters.
Green tea has been the darling of health honchos for the past few years. Now, it's being challenged by white tea and by rooibos, or red tea, as well as Brassica (a brand name). And black tea is getting more respect.
All of this "absolutely" is heating up interest in tea, says Julee Rosanoff, co-owner of Seattle's Perennial Tea Room.
"What I get are many more questions about which are the teas that have the antioxidants and which are supposed to be healthier," Rosanoff said.
"I've even had people who have cancer" ask which are the cancer-fighting teas, though Rosanoff says she makes no health claims for the teas she sells.
At The Teacup, a teashop on Queen Ann Hill, at least 20 customers a day, and sometimes as many as 50, ask about those benefits, said owner Elisabeth Knottingham.
In coffee-guzzling Seattle, sales of tea, especially green tea, are rising like steam from a tea kettle, sellers say, giving health news much of the credit.
Across the country, Americans still overwhelmingly choose coffee over tea. Yet tea sales have climbed from less than $2 billion in 1990 to more than $5 billion a year now, says Joe Simrany, president of The Tea Council, a national trade organization.
Today, tea gets star billing at some 1,200 to 1,500 specialty tea shops nationwide versus a couple dozen or so a decade ago, said Simrany, also crediting the health news.
For anyone who loves tea, its chief appeal may have nothing to do with antioxidants and a lot to do with flavor, aroma, warmth and the soothing ceremony of preparing and sipping this ancient beverage. Still, knowing it might boost health is, at the least, an attractive bonus.
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Despite its possible benefits, tea is not a health panacea, advises the University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter. An overall healthy diet, including lots of fruits and …