Photo by Nick Paris.

As you might have noticed, Santa Cruz has been visited by a little taste of winter in the past few weeks. The first rains have come, followed by a succession of inevitable car crashes and ambulance runs around the city. As for me, I avoided the roads and stuck to something a little safer: sitting on my couch watching the rain outside, watching TV and drinking hot chocolate. The essence of my Saturday afternoon.

And while I was sitting there, contemplating nothing, I started thinking about what I was drinking. As I said before, I’ve been trying to make some new goals for myself and eat a little healthier, but it hasn’t even crossed my mind yet that that applies to what I’m drinking as well. And hot chocolate, while comforting, isn’t exactly the best thing for my body, especially when I’m sitting on the couch and not running outside in the rain.

I tried thinking of better alternatives when I realized the obvious answer: tea. But what type? I, like a lot of people in the world, have no idea how black, green or even those weird flavored teas at Trader Joe’s compare and contrast with each other. So I did a little research and, big surprise, green tea wins.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like green tea. I like black tea. This reminds me of a while ago when I was at a friend’s house, and she made tea that had both packets, green and black, mixed together in one cup. She said she liked the way black tea tasted but still wanted the benefits of green tea, so she doubled up. I decided to try it myself. Not bad!

But what is it about green tea that makes it so healthy for you? Beside the fact that it can help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease, it also prevents tooth decay and lowers your blood pressure, which is good for those of us with a lot of work to do and can help us unwind at the end of a long day.

For the Chinese, green tea has been used since ancient times to cure headaches, infection and a reduced immune system.

Drawbacks: close to none. If you are the type of person who can get addicted to caffeine, try not to make this drink a habit. Too much green tea has been known to hurt your liver and kidneys. But, as with most enjoyable things, it can only be enjoyed in moderation.

You can get green tea (and black tea) really cheap at any supermarket in town. It generally costs less than coffee and can give you the same pick-me-up feeling on a cold day. It might be a good idea to stock up now before we all start hibernating for the winter.