Benefits of Tea for Your Mental Health – Part 2


In conclusion from yesterday’s post

  • Green tea. As illustrated by the discussion above, green tea is by far the most beneficial beverage when it comes to mental health improvement. The L-theanine, caffeine, and catechins in its composition prevent cognitive decay, enhance memory and alertness, and ward off depression and anxiety. However, other varieties have their benefits as well.
  • White tea. Clinical trials carried out in 2015 on lab rats showed that the caffeine contained by white tea maintains the health of the cerebral cortex when the beverage is consumed daily. Of course, this caffeine has other benefits as well, all of which have been presented in the previous section of the article.
  • Sage tea. The effects sage has on brain health are well-documented within the medical community. It can revert some of the damage done by Alzheimer’s disease, as well as enhance mood, memory, and mental function. One way to incorporate sage extract into your diet to achieve these benefits is by making it into tea, of course.
  • Lemon balm tea. Lemon balm is another herb with positive consequences for mental health and cognitive function. Mood, mental performance, and memory function are just a few examples of what can be improved with the help of the beverage. In addition to this, the drink promotes a sense of calmness, decreasing stress and anxiety levels.  
  • Gotu kola. The ancient Indian medical practice of Ayurveda hold the gotu kola herb quite dear, as it is a typical compound in many healing teas. Its bitter and pungent, yet sweet aroma isn’t useful only for spicing up the aroma of the hot drink, but also for your mind. Gotu kola keeps your brain sharp and your attention focused on what matters during the course of the day.
  • Rosemary. Anyone who is fond of cooking, meat in particular, knows what’s up with rosemary. The savory and appealing aroma of the herb is often used to condiment steaks and oven-fried vegetables, but did you know that it’s also quite relaxing? Rosemary tea is an effective treatment for stress and anxiety, as it helps you unwind after a long and busy schedule.
  • Ginkgo biloba. Everyone is familiar with the advantageous outcomes of gingko biloba on memory. Supplements advertise it all the time, but you don’t need to take it in pill form to achieve this. The herb makes for a great tea, and it works wonders for both young people, as well as older individuals with neurodegenerative conditions.

Tea can positively impact your mental health in many ways. Green tea is by far the most efficient beverage from this point of view due to compounds such as caffeine, L-theanine, and catechins. However, other types of traditional teas and herbal infusions help in areas such as memory, focus, or stress relief. The beverage is an overall win on the wellbeing front.

Image source: DepositPhotos

Author Bio: Mike Jones is a Boston-based health and beauty writer. His work is featured mostly on HomeRemedyShop, but he usually contributes to multiple authoritative websites on the web. Through his writing, Mike constantly encourages everyone to embrace the healing power of nature.



Benefits of Tea for Your Mental Health – Part 1


Guest Contribution by Mike Jones

Tea is the quintessential health-boosting drink. Due to the increase in popularity of the organic living trend, more and more people nowadays have taken a liking to it, and it has to do with more than just its pleasant aroma and soothing warmth. One major benefit includes the positive effect it has on mental health.

L-Theanine and Caffeine

There are many reasons behind this. First of all, tea contains an adequate dose of caffeine, which increases alertness and improves mental focus. However, when its effects wear off, there are other compounds which work on relieving your mind from the damaging effects of stress, anxiety, and even depressive episodes.

For one, a 2008 study has uncovered that L-theanine, a naturally occurring amino acid that coexists with caffeine solely in teas, is a great way to relax without becoming drowsy. Research conducted one year before showed that the two by their powers combined reduce mental fatigue, while at the same time enhancing memory function and reaction time.

What is more, L-theanine and caffeine have beneficial effects over time as well, as detailed by a study conducted more recently in 2011. The participants in the clinical trial were administered green tea throughout the course of 16 weeks. At the end of the investigation, they exhibited significant cognitive enhancement.

Thus tea, and especially green tea, not only improves your overall mental state for the day, but it can make a positive impact on the long-term too. On top of that, these are merely the outcomes of the action of L-theanine when combined with mild doses of caffeine. There are even more useful compounds in tea that we should consider.

Antioxidant Catechins

Catechins are an antioxidant that is present in green tea, and its outcomes in the case of achieving better mental health have been demonstrated by several studies. A study performed back in 2004 on animal subjects and published in the Experimental Gerontology journal proved this hypothesis with the help of at-risk mice.

The advantageous consequences of catechin therapy include the prevention of cognitive dysfunction, as well as the development of better memory skills. In addition to this, the antioxidant impedes negative brain changes from occurring, which can counteract neurodegenerative conditions in the long run.

Furthermore, one catechin known as theogallin has anti-depressive effects on the brain when working together with the L-theanine in tea. All in all, the main mental health benefits of the beverage are a result of all the health-enhancing compounds that go into it working together.

Image source: DepositPhotos

Author Bio: Mike Jones is a Boston-based health and beauty writer. His work is featured mostly on HomeRemedyShop, but he usually contributes to multiple authoritative websites on the web. Through his writing, Mike constantly encourages everyone to embrace the healing power of nature.



Rose Hip Tisane – T Ching


The Nootka rose, a species of wild rose native to the United States

A few weeks back, my husband went for a walk in a forested area and brought me back a surprise: Freshly-picked rose hips! He knows that I’m always excited to receive ingredients to use for medicinal purposes, and rose hips are a powerhouse of healthful benefits.

Rose hips are the name for the fruit that grows on the rose plant after the flowers have faded. Many people might not realize, but roses are in the family Rosaceae and therefore related to apples, pears, cherries, apricots, and almonds! Rose hips ripen to a bright, cheerful red and are a very healthy fruit. I would only recommend caution when gathering rose hips that you be certain you know what conditions they were grown in, as many domestic roses are sprayed with bug sprays or other chemicals. You certainly don’t want that unexpected ingredient in your tisane! If wildcrafting, you might want to double-check that you are allowed to harvest the fruit at that location, as some federal parks do not allow it. Finally, while all rose hips are edible, the tartness and amount of flavor can vary.

The Nootka rose hips once I finished scooping the seeds out

Drying rose hips is quite simple. Carefully cut off the very top and the very bottom so all that’s left is the bright red fruit. Next, spread them out in the open air for a few days to begin drying. Then cut them in half and scoop out all of the seeds! The seeds can be used to grow more roses, but the hairs on them can be irritating so it’s not advised that they be eaten. Then simply allow the halved, seeded rose hips to dry for a few more days until they are completely dry. Then they can be either chopped or not, depending on your preference, and placed in an airtight, light-proof container.

Nootka rose hip on bush

The hips that my husband brought me are from one of the local wild rose plants, rosa nutkana or the Nootka Rose. Every part of the Nootka Rose was used by the local Salish peoples, for food or for medicine. The hips were traditionally eaten fresh, mixed with salmon eggs. They are also still used today by locals in the same manner as any other rose hip: made into a tisane, jam, or syrup.

The best-known medicinal purpose of rose hips is that they are an excellent source of Vitamin C, so they’re recommended for preventing colds and boosting the immune system. However, both the drying process and age cause the quantity of Vitamin C to depreciate over time, so they’re not something you want to keep on your shelf for long periods of time: The fresher the better! They’re also traditionally considered to be useful for digestive problems and used topically in lotions and oils for improving skin elasticity.

Research has shown that taking a rose hip product 3-4 times per day reduced pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. Some early research has shown tentative results for slightly reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and that it can be helpful for improving some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Early research has also shown that applying a cream containing rose hip oil (and some other ingredients) twice per day was helpful in reducing or preventing stretch marks during pregnancy.

The major precautions against ingesting rose hips are all related to the Vitamin C content: Pregnancy and breast-feeding, arthritis, kidney stones, iron-related disorders, stroke, blood clots, et cetera. Likewise contraindications with any medications that can be affected by Vitamin C. (If in doubt, ask your doctor or pharmacist!)

When used in a tisane, rose hips should be steeped for at least ten minutes in freshly boiled water to help get the maximum benefit from the fruit. The flavor is light and fruity. I often mix it with rose petals and catnip for a floral/herbal/fruity blend that I find to be a delightful combination of both flavor and medicinal benefit!

Image One Source
Image Two provided by and copyright held by author
Image Three Source

Sources:
Wikipedia: Rosaceae
A Selection of Pacific Northwest Native Plants Traditional and Modern Harvest and Use (PDF Document)
Salish Harvest: Nootka Rose (Rosa Nutkana)
WebMD: Rose Hips

 



Darjeeling Strike: The Aftermath – T Ching


This time last year was very exciting in the Darjeeling region of India, the home of rolling tea hills and the fierce and friendly Gorkha culture. Locals had a sense of empowerment after a labor strike that took the tea industry by hostage. There was no choice but for the tea industry to listen to the people and understand the struggle the local labor has been experiencing as growers and makers of the Champagne of Teas. All eyes on the demand for independence and Gorkhaland, but has anything changed? Gorkhaland was not formed and workers continue to deal with the daily struggles of low profit margin production as they go back to work. There is one big difference though that is not spoken about in media or among industry professionals, the strike further solidified the supply chain of lower value Nepalese teas to be sold as Darjeeling tea.

I have been working with a community of small tea growers led by a Gorkha family in Darjeeling that is focusing on producing high-quality tea to sell to the foreign market called [Yanki Tea Factory](https://tealet.com/grower/profile/25). Their teas have been valued greatly in the international market, but there is only so much of these highly specialty teas that can be made, the majority of their production is bulk orthodox teas. Following the second flush season, leading up the festival season of Dusshera and Diwali, the family was becoming very worried that they won’t be able to distribute bonuses to the small growers working within their network. The reason why is because they were sitting on large stocks of tea from the first and second harvests of 2018 because tea buyers refused to pay a fair price for the tea. The buyers’ argument is that they are able to get similar quality teas at a much lower price from Nepal. These relationships and supply chain had been formed during the time of non-supply during the 2017 strike.

Independent tea makers are not the only ones affected by this development, even large and famous tea estates are sitting on larger stocks this year. Unsold tea means no cash which means no bonuses. Throughout Darjeeling this year only 8% was given to the workers whereas a 19.20% bonus was given to the workers in previous years. The festival season is an important time for these communities and the bonuses have always been the way they are able to enjoy. This year’s festival season will always have the love and energy of the Gorkha, just more financial struggle.

For the Yanki Tea Factory community, this festival season will be an encouraging one as their direct trade buyers around the world have been introduced to their bulk teas at a fair price and have provided enough revenue for them to provide proper bonuses to their network. There is still much more work to be done in improving quality, efficiency, and marketing for these teas around the world, but it is progress.



Blast From the Past: Making Tea While Traveling


We enjoy the comfort of our tea setups at home. From simple infusers to teapots to gaiwans and yixing pots, it is nice to be able to make tea however we want at home. But what happens when we find ourselves traveling but still want to make tea? There are several ways to still enjoy good tea while traveling.

Perhaps the easiest way to make quality tea while traveling is to buy tea in sachets. Unlike tea bags which contain the dust and fannings, full leaf sachets contain loose leaf tea in a larger bag that still allows the tea to expand and properly infuse. Most hotel rooms nowadays have a coffee maker in the room. Use the coffee maker to heat the water and infuse your sachet in a cup.

If you still want to brew loose leaf tea while traveling, fear not. There are still many ways. There are two ways to be creative in a hotel room. If the room has paper cups, poke holes along the bottom of the cup and along the bottom quarter of the sides of the cup. Put another cup outside of the cup that you just poked holes into, and fill the cup with your tea. Heat up some water in the coffee maker into the paper cups and let your tea steep. Once the tea is steeped, very carefully and slowly lift the top cup up and allow the tea to filter into the outside cup. This method best works with larger leaf teas as smaller leaves can clog up the holes. Another way to utilize the coffee maker and paper cups is to take a lid and strain the tea leaves through the mouth hole. I’ve had success with this method with smaller leaves as large leaves may block the opening of the mouth hole.

Another option is to drink tea “grandpa style”. This refers to the method of brewing tea without filtering the leaves out. Not all teas are suitable for this type of brewing as some teas can become too bitter by overbrewing. Some recommended styles of teas to enjoy this way are dragonwell greens, shu (ripe) puerh, silver needle white teas, and roasted oolongs. This is a great method for hiking! I’ve also used this method during long conferences at work.

If your hotel is nice enough to give you a mini fridge, you can cold brew! Cold brewing tea needs to be done the night before, but can give you a delicious cup of tea that is ready when you wake up. Be careful and make sure that the mini fridge doesn’t have motion sensors. Some hotel mini fridges may charge you even if it detects something has moved, if you do not have a motion sensor in the mini fridge, you’re in the clear! My favorite teas to cold brew are Japanese green teas like gyokuro and sencha. Green oolongs and Yunnan black teas are also delicious when cold brewed.

Of course, if you are traveling, do not miss the chance to find great local tea shops!

Image provided by author

Originally posted in October 2015 by James Rubly



Tea of the Month Buyers Guide – Part 2


Continued from yesterday

Ability to purchase more tea?

You’ll probably come across tea that you absolutely love and will want to buy more of. Another question would be can you buy more of a particular tea from the seller? Some boxes that mix different brands will not be able to do this –  you will have to order from different companies which may be inconvenient. Some companies have a very limited selection of tea on their website. Some clubs offer perks in the way of discounts to their website for plan members. It’s good to know what your options are in advance.

Anything else included?

Some subscriptions will send you the tea by itself, some will send you some disposable tea bags, and some others offer infusers or even teapots. If you already have a collection of teapots, you may not want to pay for an additional one you don’t want or need. On the other hand, if you are sending as a gift, having something included so that it can be used on day one isn’t a bad idea.

Managing the subscription

Companies can host their own services or use a third party provider like Cratejoy. The software for managing subscriptions and payments is pretty complex, which is why some companies opt to outsource this. We like to see a mechanism for being able to change billing methods, delivery address, pausing or cancel subscriptions. Some places let you do a pre-pay, which we only recommend if the company has a good reputation (see below). This avoids interruptions in shipments due to credit cards being expired or lost.

The company behind the box

Is it a subscription-only company? Or a tea company that happens to have subscriptions? Which is the better choice? Regardless of who hosts the box, it’s a good idea to look at the companies web page and learn more about the company itself. Does it inspire confidence about the products being offered? Is there customer service easily accessible?  Is a phone number or address listed?

Recommendations

There is no one perfect club. Using the factors discussed above will help you find the ideal tea of the month subscription that best fits your needs.

Examples of some tea companies that offer subscriptions:

Art of Tea
Adagio Tea Club
The Tea Spot
The Tea Table
Silver Tips
Imperial Tea
Republic of Tea
Whistling Kettle

Image Source



Tea of the Month Buyers Guide – Part 1


Like other food-based “monthly” clubs, it’s a great way to get a curated list of teas shipped to you automatically each month. Regardless if you are getting this as a gift or for yourself, you get exposed to a variety of teas on a regular basis. But what makes one club different from another one? The amount of tea of the month clubs available on the market has expanded over the past few years. But not all clubs are the same, and this article is designed to help you make an informed decision.

Scrutinize ‘TOP 10 lists’

If you are searching on google, you might come across ‘top 10’ pages. In fact, search just about any general product and you will get top multiple “top 10 “lists. Most of these are usually not individual reviews by a qualified reviewer, but just a list linking to affiliate marketers (i.e. they cut of the sale).  While there isn’t inherently anything wrong with this, make sure the guides do more than just list the features of the box.  Do they have any knowledge or authority on the subject matter or are they just reading the product description verbatim?

Shipping

Most plans by default include “free” shipping. However, if you are sending as a gift, make sure you know what the box looks like. It is a cheapy plastic envelope? Generic box? Or is it something a little more fancy?

Most places will ship on a set schedule each month. If it’s close to the holiday season, you’ll want to know the cut off date to get the first box in time.

What are the plans?

First and foremost, we are biased against bagged tea so we prefer any subscription that consists of only loose tea. This is simply for quality and variety.  Some clubs are limited to just one plan – you take whatever they send you. Some clubs offer a variety of plans focused on particular tea categories. A few clubs might offer hyper customized plans based on a “personality algorithm”. While this is may be ideal for a certain customer who is hyper picky, such as “I don’t like Earl Grey, Citrus, Chocolate and want to avoid caffeine” offering too much customization might reduce the serendipity of trying teas you might not even know you might like, or exposing you to a taste that you never knew existed. Since we consider tea like food, we like the more adventurous route of not knowing what you may expect.

Price and Quantity 

Prices are very subjective, and you will see a wide range of prices from plan to plan. In most cases, shipping is built into the cost of the plan. Besides the shipping materials, boxes, labor, marketing, overhead, and management – the rest of the cost is the tea itself. Here is where things get murky. Not all plans reveal the exact menu of teas you will receive, which is admittedly hard to do in advance especially during certain seasons. Some clubs lure you in with ‘too good to be true’ prices, but in reality, the amount of tea offered is either minuscule or the teas provided are mostly cheaper teas that cost very little. Sometimes weights are provided, often in grams which requires a little conversion to determine how many ounces you will receive. Others will not provide weights but rather ‘cups’. This is also subjective and sometimes there is cup inflation when it comes to calculations, using a much too low amount of tea per serving and thus driving up the amount of “cups” you get. 

If a plan doesn’t offer as many teas per month, ask yourself this: What happens if you don’t like a tea? If you get 1 or 2 teas, you will be saddled with a lot of tea that you don’t want to drink. A good club will give you a reasonable amount of tea – enough to try stuff out, but not too much that you wind up not being able to drink it all.

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To be concluded



Go Green this Halloween!! – T Ching


Following up on last month’s Monster Muffin recipe, here are five more drop-dead, spookily easy matcha recipes to make Halloween a little more healthy! These were tested on kids big and small in my matcha masterclass and they all screamed in delight! Have FUN!

Nightingale Drops

  • (topping for ice cream, cereal or yogurt)
  • Chocolate Chips (milk, dark or white)
  • Matcha to coat

Put a handful or more chips into a large baking bowl, drop in enough matcha to coat and toss the chips using both hands gripping the bowl. Don’t use utensils to toss! Add more matcha or chips as needed to evenly coat.

Emerald Savory Sprinkles

  • (savory topping for rice, salads, vegetables, soups)
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Matcha to coat
  • Pinch of sea salt

Using a cereal bowl, add a tablespoon or two or three of seeds and enough matcha to coat, usually 1gram will do it. Then without using utensils, shake the bowl to coat the seeds. The black sesame seeds have a delicious and completely different taste to white ones. You can usually find these in most Asian grocery stores and some mainstream supermarkets with a good ethnic selection.

Dew Drops

  • (Perfect on ice cream and in yogurt)
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Matcha to coat

Use the same method as above only omit the salt!

Frankenstein Popcorn. It’s a scream!

Frankenstein Popcorn

  • Prepare popcorn as usual
  • Melted butter
  • Matcha for dusting (make it as green as you like…)

Toss popcorn in melted butter then using a small tea strainer, sift matcha and keep tossing until the desired green is achieved. To add a little heat to this monster recipe, sprinkle with some chili pepper! YUMMY!

Green Goddess Dressing

Great for salads or marinade

  • 40ml apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1.5g matcha
  • 120ml cold-press extra virgin olive oil
  • Stevia (sprinkle, 1/4 package)
  • 2 ml prepared French/Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp powdered garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the matcha into the vinegar. Pour into salad dressing bottle and add remainder of ingredients. Very gently shake (or if using a pitcher, whisk) to create an emulsion. Vigorous shaking will make the dressing runny.

Image provided and copyright held by author



Blast From the Past: The connectivity of tea


Yesterday I had lunch at a local eatery that specializes in things grown within a 50 mile radius of our city.  My lunch companion was someone I met when she became a customer in the store we had here for four-and-a-half years.  She is a systems engineer for Verizon, connect_tea_cropbut was recognized by USA Today as one of the country’s top Latino bloggers, along with many other honors.

She was one of the fortunate 8,000 or so chosen by Google to be first users of their Google glasses.  I got to try them on. . .made me slightly dizzy trying to use them!  She is brilliant and lives life to the fullest, currently developing a series of blogs and bloggers who are all part of an even bigger vision she has.

She loves really high quality loose leaf tea.

While we were eating, one of the owners of the woman-owned eatery stopped by to tell me they were going to need to order more tea soon.  Her business is featured on indiegogo.comright now to raise funds to move and expand and help the local economy in an even bigger way.   She wanted to make sure their tea was of the same high quality as everything else they offer.

As I watched the two of them and listened, I realized that we are all passionate about what we are doing and that tea is the common denominator that brought us together. And tea is helping to keep us connected.

Tea is a connector.  I think it is much more a connector than coffee, even though people meet ‘for coffee’ socially much more in this country than they do for tea.  I mean connected on a deeper level than just chatting over a cuppa or having a cup sitting next to a laptop, glued to the screen for hours in a coffeehouse, surrounded by others doing exactly the same thing.

There’s something about tea that brings about more depth of knowledge and involvement with the product when one embraces loose tea culture. Tea people also tend to be interested in other food/beverage subjects like gluten, caffeine levels, and health in general.  When I think of foods consumed with coffee, what comes to mind is usually heavy on sugar and fat.  When I think of tea, lighter, healthier accompaniments come to mind.   There are exceptions, of course, to all generalities.

I’m sure all of us who write for, or read, tea blogs have experienced our own connecting experiences over or because of tea.

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Originally posted by Diane Walden in October 2013

The post Blast From the Past: The connectivity of tea appeared first on T Ching.