Nutritionist Faith Toogood from health and wellbeing site Make Your Switch (www.makeyourswitch.co.uk) gives us the nutritional benefits of drinking tea, as well as two healthy tea-infused recipes to try!
We are a nation of tea lovers (myself included) and luckily for us, never before has there been such a fabulous array of tea varieties on offer. It can be said that these sometimes smell better than they taste (!) but nonetheless, a cup of tea can work wonders in my book.

The supposed benefits of tea fall into 2 camps; firstly those associated with the nutritional benefits gained from drinking a cup of tea and secondly, those associated with the psychological and emotional benefits gained from sitting down with a comforting cup of tea.

Tea can be a source of flavanoids (antioxidants) which are nutritional powerhouses. The level of antioxidants contained in a cup of tea will vary hugely between different varieties; green, black, white, chamomile etc but the jury is still out as to whether adding milk to your cup of tea decreases the bioavailability of antioxidants or just means that they are slower to be released into the bloodstream. It is also worth remembering that a cup of tea will count towards your fluid intake for the day so yet another health reason to put the kettle on!

Arguably the more convincing argument for the 'Tea is good for you' camp is the more emotional and psychological benefits, especially stress and anxiety reduction, that several studies have now positively shown tea drinking to be associated with.

I for one, purely from personal experience, agree that the comforting ritual around putting the kettle on, pouring a cup of tea and sitting down to drink it, whatever type, variety, with or without milk, is indeed one of life's true comforts.

So with that in mind, put the kettle on, select a tea bag or loose leaf and sit down for a precious few minutes whilst you read this magazine.

Tea isn't just for drinking however so whilst the health benefits will come from drinking tea, flavour benefits can come from using certain varieties of tea in cooking.

Here is a great recipe for you to have a go at!

Tea infused salmon


• 150g Earl Grey loose-leaf tea
• 60g soft light brown sugar
• 3 lemons: 2 sliced, 1 cut into thin wedges
• 1 side of salmon (about 1kg)

1.Boil 4 litres water, pour over the tea, sugar and lemon slices, then set aside to cool completely. Strain though a fine sieve and discard the tea leaves and lemon.

2.Pour the cooled liquid into a fish kettle or deep roasting tin big enough to hold the salmon. Place on the hob, across two rings. Bring to the boil, then lower in the salmon, skin-side down. (If the fillet isn't fully covered, top up with boiling water.) Simmer for 1 minute, then remove the kettle or roasting tin from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

3.Carefully remove the salmon onto a large sheet of baking paper. Fold the paper over the salmon and use it as a support to turn the fillet over carefully. Peel away and discard the skin. Using a sharp knife, scrape away and discard any brown-grey flesh. Serve the salmon with lemon wedges and the cucumber and radish slaw.

Blackberry and Earl Grey Pocket Pies


For the pie dough
• 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening
• 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces
• 8-10 tablespoons ice water

For the filling
• 3 cups blackberries
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
• For the glaze
• 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
• 1/4 cup cooled, strong, freshly brewed earl grey tea
• 1/2 teaspoon of earl grey tea leaves

1 Mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter and shortening over dry ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together. If dough does not come together, stir in remaining ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it does. Shape dough into ball with hands, then flatten into 4-inch disk. Dust dough lightly with flour, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and lemon zest. Let stand, mixing and coarsely mashing occasionally, 20 minutes.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut into squares (you will get about 24 squares in total). Lightly brush edge of pastry square with a lightly beaten egg. Spoon on 1-2 tablespoons of blackberry mixture. Place a second pastry square directly over top of the blackberry filling and press edges of pastry together to seal into a pocket. Press fork into edges of pocket and pierce 3-4 holes in top of pastry pocket.
Lightly brush top of each pocket pie with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until top is golden brown. Place on wire rack and cool completely.

4. For the earl grey tea glaze mix together the brewed early grey tea, tea leaves and icing sugar. Drizzle over top of cooled pocket pies and serve immediately.

See more from nutritionist Faith Toogood at www.makeyourswitch.co.uk