A drink to your health

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Matcha tea is one of the many drinks one can have as an alternative to soda and juice. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Mitch.

As college students, most of us are well acquainted with coffee. Some coffee drinks, however, can make quite a dent in your diet. For example, the popular Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks has 380 calories per 16 oz cup.

Students who are sick of water and yearn for something with flavor usually turn to juice or soda — both of which are full of unnecessary calories and chemicals.

University of Dallas students are independent thinkers, ever on the lookout for the strange and unusual. Included therein are some healthy alternatives to the standard coffee and soda.

Matcha is a tea from Japan that claims to have over 10 times the antioxidants of an ordinary glass of green tea.

It is actually comprised of a powder made from the entire leaf of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Instead of being brewed in a tea bag, the powder is stirred straight into the hot water with a bamboo whisk.

The result is a drink that is thought to improve concentration, help eliminate heavy metals from the body, and keep the drinker alert.

According to the Wall Street Journal, an 8-ounce cup of Teavana’s Imperial Grade Matcha contains 120 milligrams of caffeine. Because matcha is a powder, it can also be used in a variety of foods, from chocolate bars to ice cream. The drink is mild enough to be drunk without sweetener.

While it is indeed possible to grow your own matcha, the process is time-consuming and prone to error.

Another alternative is Kombucha, a fermented tea made with vinegar, sugar and a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). A kombucha SCOBY looks like a sand-colored gelatinous pancake.

The somewhat eerie appearance of a SCOBY can cause someone to wonder how on earth this flimsy pale pancake can create a healthy probiotic drink.

Once the ingredients of kombucha are set in a jar together and left to ferment, the SCOBY eats the sugar within the drink and creates a fizzy beverage that can be drunk by itself or mixed with other drinks. Fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, the average glass of kombucha is only about 1 percent alcohol, despite being fermented.

Kefir is another odd fermented drink. Most commonly made with milk or water, kefir is mixed with either a starter culture or kefir grains.

The kefir culture is mesophilic, which means that it thrives at room temperature. In order to make the drink, the culture is simply added to the water or milk and allowed to sit for 12-48 hours. The grains are then taken out of the culture, and the drink is stirred and served.

Kefir is described as having the taste and properties similar to yogurt; however, kefir is more liquid. It has yeasts and more bacteria that are beneficial for the gut than yogurt, giving kefir even more of a place in the health community. Kefir also has more capabilities than the other two drinks on this list as a smoothie ingredient and yogurt substitute.

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