Bitter cold January days call for nothing less than a cup of hot tea to warm you up from the inside out. A hot, steamy cup of tea is perfect for any time of the day. Happy National Tea Day! So, enjoy that cup of tea, and I’ll tell you some interesting facts about tea.

First, have you ever wondered where tea came from, and what made someone put leaves in hot water for flavor?  Well, legend says in 2737 BC, a Chinese emperor was sitting under a tree while his servant boiled drinking water when some leaves blew into it. The emperor happened to be a renowned herbalist and he decided to taste the infusion that had just been created by accident. He loved it, and that is where tea comes from!

Being calorie-free, tea can help with weight loss, especially when paired with a well-balanced diet and exercise. It’s an immune system booster. Studies show that tea helps immune cells reach their target more quickly.

To start the day off right, try a white tea with extremely hot water to bring a lot of the caffeine to maximum potency. At midmorning, move to drinking green tea. This will help give your metabolism a kick start, and it has a very light, uplifting, approachable flavor.

For lunch, enjoy black tea as it is widely available and is a great pairing with just about any food. For the midday pick-me-up, a great choice is pu-erh tea, which is fermented. (In contrast to regular tea production terminology, fermentation refers to microbial fermentation and is applied after the tea leaves have been sufficiently dried and rolled.) It has enough caffeine to ward off the afternoon slump but not enough to keep you awake at night.

For the evening, try chamomile, valerian root, lavender, lemon balm or passionflower. These teas will calm you down and promote a good and restful night’s sleep. There you have it. Go make that cup of tea and it will take the chill off your bones.

Thank you to those who reminded me I left off Valentine’s Day in last week’s Dates to Remember. It does my heart good to know someone is actually reading the column.

And speaking of Valentine’s Day, now may be a good time to start planning what to do for the day. Who knows if restaurants will be open for indoor seating or if it will be another year of takeout food? So, it may be a fun destination to eat that takeout at that spot you need to start researching. You could visit outdoor venues, parks, lakes, boats; maybe go fishing, or to a shooting range.

And then there are the flowers. Maybe switch it up and give your valentine your favorite type of flowers. Me, I am a tulip girl; add some alstroemeria for depth and I am happy. And for dinner, I like Italian, with tiramisu for dessert. Or chiles rellenos with green sauce, rice and Peruvian beans, and flan for dessert. I am pretty easy to please.

Flowers of the day: Camellias

Recipe of the day: Snickerdoodles to eat with that hot cup of tea.

Dates to Remember:

Jan 17 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Feb 2 – Groundhog Day

Feb 12 – Abraham Lincoln’s actual birthday

Feb 14 – Valentine’s Day

Feb 18-21 – High schools are closed for a long 4-day weekend instead of two 3-day weekends to celebrate Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays

Feb 21 – Presidents Day

Feb 22 – George Washington’s actual birthday

Until next week – Be strong, be courageous and make a memory.