Blast From the Past: new year’s resolution – tea and exercise


How many of us made yet another list of New Year’s resolutions? For those who did, I suspect that adding exercise to your routine was prominently placed on that list. No one will dispute that exercise is good for your health. But what can you do each and every day that is also healthy for you? Drink fluids.

Here in Oregon, it’s very common to see people walking around with a water bottle, or for those more health conscious and environmentally friendly, a nalgene bottle, or the newer, brightly colored stainless steel bottles. Let me call your attention to what should go into those bottles. . . you guessed it: TEA! I’m not talking about the sugary sweet bottled iced tea that is all over the super market shelves, I’m talking about home-brewed tea that is chock full of amazingly healthy pholyphenols.

Take a few minutes and brew up some green or white tea in the morning before you leave the house. If you’re using the stainless steel bottle, you don’t even have to wait for the tea to cool. Just fill up your bottle, and off you go to work or play. It’s quite easy to sip throughout the day. Whether you’re exercising at the gym, taking a hike in your local park or sitting at your desk . . . drink up. Remember, the British Health Council dispelled the urban myth that these low-caffeine teas were dehydrating. They provide the hydration of water but pack a hefty antioxidant punch, to boot. Who could ask for anything more? So drink to YOUR health . . . all day long.

Originally posted in January 2008 by Michelle Rabin

Photo “Design Series Bottles – Snazzy Razzy” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 to the photographer “Rubbermaid Products” and is being posted unaltered (source)



How much would you spend to advertise in the New Yorker Magazine?


As a former east coaster who has been living in Hood River, Oregon for 15 years, I can’t totally detach myself from New York. I LOVE Oregon but there is something about New York City that is unlike anywhere in the world. We’ve been getting the New Yorker to give us a weekly fix on all things New York!

I was surprised to see this full-page, color ad in a December issue. It seems like Yogi tea has made quite an investment into mainstream advertising. I spent over an hour online trying to get the rate sheet to see how much Yogi tea was willing to pay for such exposure. I was unable to find the information online, which is quite shocking; I found that their circulation is 1,069,000 but no rate sheet. I’ve sent out an email to that department waiting for a response. I called 3 different phone numbers which had been listed as “advertising” with no success. I waited on the phone for over half an hour, waiting for a human being who finally told me to call the number I had called before with no luck. He suggested I request the operator – which I did, but was then disconnected. I tried yet again with the same result. Am I in the twilight zone perhaps? So I ask you, how do large companies manage to stay in business when it becomes so challenging to actually speak with a human being and get initial information? I finally got a response from Risa Aronson who told me the cost for the printed magazine: One full page would be $60,000. I must confess that I expected it to be higher than that. She said the circulation was 1.2 million.

We know that the growth of tea has increased substantially year after year with recent statistics showing the U.S. as the 4th largest tea-consuming country in the world. Now that’s impressive. I know that traditional advertising seems to have taken a hit as social media sources have become al- important. It’s a brave new world out there, and savvy retailers have to get on board or be left behind.

So how much would you be willing to pay for a full page ad in your favorite non-tea related print magazine? Which magazine would you target for the best customer reach?

Photo provided by and copyright held by author

 



Top 10 Tea Books of All Time For Tea Lovers – Part 2


Continued from Monday’s post

6. “Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea: Discovering Producing Regions and Their Teas” by Jane Pettigrew

If you are ready to take your tea knowledge to the next level, dive into “Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea”. It will take you on a wonderful journey through 60 tea producing regions of the world; touching on their history, local tea culture, and rituals, terroir, cultivars, etc. Become a real tea connoisseur and enjoy your cuppa on a whole new level.

7. “Tea: A User’s Guide” by Tony Gebely

Drinking tea is such a relaxing experience. There is much more to that tea than knowing the perfect steep time. Tea has a rich history. This book will teach you not only about the history, but also how to prepare and evaluate different varieties. You may even learn some fun facts that you never knew before.

8. “World Atlas of Tea: From the Leaf to the Cup, the World’s Teas Explored and Enjoyed” by Krisi Smith

Did you know that the United States is the fourth largest consumer of tea in the world? That and many more interesting facts are covered in “World Atlas of Tea”. It touches on basics, brewing and drinking, blending, and country profiles. With specialty tea outlets popping up all over the place, this book will help you better appreciate the variety of teas you may stumble upon. You may discover why some teas from different regions and countries taste differently. You can even learn how to make your perfect cup of tea.

9. “The Tea Book: All Things Tea” by Nick Kilby and Louise Cheadle:

This book is a wonderful encyclopedia of knowledge about tea. Tea comes in so many delicious varieties and blends that it can be hard to wade through. Learn how to taste like a pro and even correct brewing methods. Once you know a little about tea, it will make your drinking experience exponentially better. “The Tea Book” has everything you need to know about tea. It is your definitive guide and a welcome addition to any tea lover’s library.

10. “Green Tea Cha: How Japan and the World Enjoys Green Tea in the 21st Century” by Kei Nishida

Green tea has changed a lot over time, from how it is used to how it is appreciated. The way individuals of the 21st Century enjoy this time-honored beverage is very different from those of the past. Green tea has powerful antioxidants and there are many new drinks and dishes on the market delivering up green tea in interesting new ways. Find out more with “Green Tea Cha”.

In Conclusion

As one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, tea is a soothing and aromatic beverage with many healing properties. Whether you are a new tea drinker or a lifetime consumer, there are many interesting books available on the topic that can take your tea knowledge to the next level. From green tea to black and everything in between, learn about the history of these leaves, the cultures that grew around this beverage, traditional and unique recipes, and much, much more. So put the kettle on, grab a cozy blanket, and settle down for some light reading accompanied by your favorite tea flavor.

Images of book covers are copyright the respective authors



Happy New Year One And All


I find myself looking back over the last year. Boy, has it been a doozie! It’s easy to feel disillusioned by our current state of affairs: Our political system is in shambles, the stock market is crashing, our position around the globe has declined considerably, we’re at a crisis environmentally, and our ruling party doesn’t even believe the environment is in serious trouble; and if that’s not enough to deal with, the evidence-based science which we rely on to provide insight into our medicine/treatment and healthcare has been compromised by corruption. Quite frankly, it’s hard to trust in our precarious future.

I can take comfort, however, knowing that we’ve recovered from serious problems before and will likely recover again. Each new day brings the potential for improvements and progress. I know that when I sit down with my first morning cup of tea, this ancient herb reminds me that the future is what we will make it. We can become a country of compassionate people who support and encourage each other to be the very best we can be. We can be a country that is respected and honored around the world. We can be a country that fights for the rights of every human being on the planet. Our shared values made our country great and honoring those same values can do so again. With each sip, I feel stronger. With each sip, I feel more hopeful. We can save the planet from devastating climate change and bring food and peace to every human being on the planet. We can do this. We must do this. Let each sip bring us closer to this reality.

Photo “Anodised Aluminium Full Tea Set” is copyright under Creative Commons-Non Commercial Attribution License 2.0 to the photographer Gail Thomas and is being posted unaltered (source)



Top 10 Tea Books of All Time For Tea Lovers – Part 1


The aromatic goodness of tea is hard to beat. There is a simplicity to heating water and steeping tea, holding the warm cup against your heart, and sipping liquid goodness. Tea lovers come in all shapes and sizes. Below are ten books that are likely to fuel your love while educating you on the art of all things tea.

1. “I Will Teach You to Be Healthy by Using Japanese Green Tea: Surprising Facts and Tips for How You Can Take Best Advantage of This Amazing Plant” by Kei Nishida

Japanese green tea has many amazing benefits that are oftentimes overlooked. Complete with beautiful illustrations, this book is a great resource for anyone interested in green tea. It explores its healing powers, brewing techniques, aromatherapy practices, and health benefits. It is a wonderfully comprehensive guide to Japanese green tea.

2. “20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature’s Healing Herbs” by Victoria Zak

Teas have so many healing benefits hidden in their leaves. This guide offers a plethora of ailments and ways herbs can treat them. One of the many benefits of learning the healing properties of different teas is that they are easy to obtain and inexpensive to boot. Find all the delicious and relaxing ways to heal your body with simple teas. This book is a wonderful resource for any home.

3. “The Book of Tea” by Kakuzo Okakura

A scholar of Japanese heritage, Kakuzo Okakura was best known in America as the Curator of Chinese and Japanese art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. If you have ever been interested in the distinctly eastern mindset toward Teaism, Okakura is prepared to show you the ins and outs of Japanese tea culture in “The Book of Tea”. It is a great introduction to Japanese thinking and culture and covers everything, including origins, religious influences, history, and ceremonies. It is about more than just tea: It is about Japanese heritage and culture.

4. “Green Tea Mania: 250+ Green Tea Facts, Cooking & Brewing Tips & Trivia You (Probably) Didn’t Know” by Kei Nishida

Do you love trivia? What about tea? If your answer is “yes” to both of these questions, “Green Tea Mania” is just the book for you. It is filled with all kinds of fun facts as well as wonderful pictures. Whether you are health-conscious or just a lover of green tea, Nishida’s book offers something for everyone. Learn about this leaf’s history, uses, cultivation, health benefits, fermentation process, and much more.

5. “Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties” by Kevin Gascoyne, Francois Marchand, and Jasmin Desharais

With beautifully vibrant photos, this is the tea reference book you’ve been waiting for. Chock full of teas from around the world, “Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties” is comprehensive without being overwhelming. You can learn not only about different teas from different regions but histories, ceremonies, preparation, recipes, and more.
I had the pleasure of personally meeting with the author at the World Tea Expo last year. He is a wonderful person to talk with and has lots of passion in tea and tea business.  His book also reflects his personality.

Images of book covers are copyright the respective authors

To be concluded on Wednesday



Blast From the Past: Colds and Flus and Tea


Winter brings with it the festivities and holidays, but also can be a dreaded time of year for some because of colds, flu or other associated sicknesses.

With a little planning, you can get through the season with barely more than a sniffle,  even while people around you are dropping like flies. Some of this is based on science, but also my experience working in several restaurants which involve handling cash, touching keyboards, interaction with staff and the public. In other words, a landmine of potential ways to catch something. The tactics discussed within this article has worked for me for several years, even those where I did not get a flu shot. While not scientific, there is also clinical evidence which leads me to the overall conclusion that regular tea drinkers simply do not get sick as often.

Part One – The physical defense

In the 1980’s and 1990’s there was a product called “The Club” for automobiles. Cities like New York, where I grew up had a big problem with car theft at the time. The club was nothing more than a metal bracket that hooked to your steering wheel making it impossible to steer the car. The club wasn’t foolproof and eventually, thieves developed workarounds. But the main purpose of the club was to make your vehicle a less inviting target. A thief, when given the choice, would choose a non-club equipped vehicle over yours.

The same thought process applies with the avoiding colds. And the first part is simply making yourself a less inviting target.

To reduce the physical chances of coming in contact with the cold or flu means frequent hand washing and proper humidification. At the very least, keeping your bedroom at proper humidification levels while you sleep will allow your nose and sinus passages from becoming dried out overnight, which will reduce the chances of a virus getting a foothold when you are around sick people.

Frequent hand washing is also important especially if you are in public spaces.  However, anti-bacterial gels have been shown to have potential long-term negative health consequences. The FDA has already banned certain ingredients found in hand sanitizers. But even some of the non-banned ingredients – the alcohols and ethanols – may have side effects. While sometimes there is no choice, it is better to use soap and water where possible.

One little trick to FORCE you to wash with soap and water is a side effect of drinking tea. If you sip on tea throughout the day, you will inevitably have pretty regular bathroom trips. Therefore by default, you will need to use a restroom and use soap and water!

Part Two – The immune defense

Assuming something gets through, your immune system in the next line of defense. The flu shot, while not 100% effective is going to reduce your chances of contracting the flu, and at the very least reduce the intensity if you should get it. Beyond that, your overall immune system condition is very important. A diet full of sugar, processed foods and inactivity will result in an immune system that is not at full strength. All this intertwines with your gut bacteria. As Dr. Steven Gundry describes in his book ‘The plant paradox’ – consider your body a condominium for microbes. If you do not give them good living conditions, they will not perform their functions efficiently. Therefore having a good overall ‘gut’ is vital for a strong immune system.

Eating well and physical activity will keep your immune system up to snuff during the vulnerable season. Even a little exercise daily is better than nothing, and there are numerous apps that follow the seven-minute scientific workout that allow you to get moving without needing expensive equipment and requires just a little time each day.

One of the main reasons that hand sanitizers might be negative is because they destroy good bacteria as well as bad. They also do not carry away dirt like soap does. So while they may in short-term kill everything on your hands, they will also dry out your hands and introduce chemicals that may not be ideal for your micro floura as a whole.

Part Three – Boosting the immune system

The supplement industry makes billions off various pills. Do they in fact work? Some supplements contain immune boosting ingredients, but there is not much in the way of studies that confirms lower incidents of flu or colds by taking them versus what you get in everyday foods. Vitamin C may help to avoid colds but does not really seem to do so. Plus, there are side effects from overdosing. Your best bet is to get as much vitamin C from foods such as greens and citrus.

But did you know that simply drinking tea on a daily basis will help boost your immune system? It turns out there are studies that show certain components found in tea – specifically EGCG and L-theantine that help strengthen the immune system by priming T cell activity. Tea in general is anti-bacterial/anti-fungal, which is why tea drinkers also get less cavities.

Part Four – Breakthrough!

No matter how much you wash your hands, or how many precautions you take, there will be a time where the enemy slips through your defenses and attempts a beachhead. The key is to wipe this beachhead out as quickly as possible before the germs can grab more than a toe hold. Normally we can sense something wrong – a headache, post nasal drip, or some imbalance that says something is not right. Here is where you need to add some weapons to the arsenal.

But before we move forward, if you caught the flu you will know it. The flu is highly contagious during this initial phase. If you feel like you got hit by a truck – STAY HOME.

Certain herbs like ginger, lemon balm, sage, or lemon verbena serve as antiviral sore-throat soothers. Also Echineccia has been shown in clinical trials to be as effective as tamiflu – with fewer side effects and much lower cost. If you happen to have a sore throat, honey will also work to soothe.

There has been some evidence that zinc lozenges will reduce the length and severity of a cold. But should you decide to go this route, there are side effects from over dosing and usage is not recommended except when you are actually sick.

Echinecea is another common supplement. You could in theory take tablets, but drinking a tea with echinecea in it is probably a better bet, because it will contain more than just the one ingredient and more side benefits, plus the hot fluids which are recommended.  It also lowers the chances of overdosing. Using this rapid response method has worked for me personally, as well as other people I’ve advised. Whenever I feel any imbalance, I immediately switch to a mostly herbal tea regimen, including blends formulated with Echinecea. That, coupled with going to bed early has allowed me to wake up the next day refreshed and germ free.

From a cost perspective tea is also superior. Firstly, you can drink the tea all the time – not just when you are not feeling well. Most herbal teas can be consumed on a regular basis without overdosing or negative side effects. Just be aware if you are any medications, and look up the ingredients that are not familiar to you. WebMD is a great resource for this. Common ingredients like sage or ginger can be consumed moderately on an every day basis. Plus there are other benefits, such as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Conclusion

If you are drinking tea now, you are already boosting your immune system naturally. Keeping some herbal varieties with some of the ingredients mentioned, eating right and keeping fit will greatly increase your chances of avoiding sickness. Does tea help prevent colds and reduce the symptoms of a cold – YES!

Photo “Herb tea” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 to the photographer “Ruta & Zinas” and is being posted unaltered (source)

Originally posted by Whistling Kettle in December 2017



Post-Holiday Tea


The holidays can be a difficult time for many people, with the stresses and the pressures; not to mention all the varying experiences that we’ve had and how that affects our perspectives. I personally recommend starting planning early, not over-thinking, and spending a day and an evening completely away. My husband and I chose to spend Christmas Eve at the coast. We didn’t even realize how much we needed the reprieve until we were there, watching the sun set over the ocean.

All the same, after the holidays are over, it’s important to take care of yourself. So here is my top recommendation for unwinding from holiday stress: Drink tea.

I’m absolutely serious. Every part of tea – from the preparation to the sipping to the satisfaction once finished – is calming and at times even zen-like. Not to mention if you’re lucky enough to have been gifted something enjoyable (or even gifted some to yourself!) you can reflect on your appreciation as you drink it.

Tea is hydrating, and most people struggle with getting enough hydration when going from holiday event to holiday event. The antioxidants and other beneficial components are wonderful for helping your overtaxed immune system when you’ve not been getting enough rest and have possibly been spending time around people that have exposed you to various seasonal viruses.

Finally, tea is a quiet moment in time that you can take for yourself (or enjoy with a special someone). Something we all need to keep as a priority, no matter the season.

Photo “Keeping Calm” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 to the photographer Dave Crosby and is being posted unaltered (source)

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Genetic Mutation Creates A Caffeine Free Green Tea


I was enjoying reading the recent World Tea News report when I saw a very interesting story about a rare wild tea plant.

Growing at elevations of 2,300 – 3,275 ft in a region of southern China’s Fujian province, Chinese researchers discovered the Hongyacha plant; which is a rare varietal of camellia sinensis. This plant is believed to “date back to one million years ago. It is real tea, not an herbal alternative like rooibos or chamomile, but it contains no detectable amount of caffeine.”

Green tea has risen to star status within the wellness category as its rich compounds continue to be studied for their health-promoting capacity. The issue of caffeine is the only remaining obstacle for some. There has been sufficient research on this compound to reveal that it too has some health benefits. For those especially sensitive to caffeine or those wanting their children to benefit from its polyphenol attributes, they choose to drink decaffeinated green tea. The problem here lies in the processing to remove caffeine.

“Of the estimated four billion gallons of tea consumed in the U.S. each year, around 18% is decaffeinated. The aim of the four types of processes that produce decaf teas is to maintain as much of the taste and wellness-related benefits of the original leaf as is possible, while eliminating as much of the caffeine as is possible.

“Possible” here translates more to “acceptable” than “close.” The chemical processes involve washing the tea, with soaking, straining and extraction in ethyl acetate or methylene chloride, for example. This loses 75-95 percent of the anti-oxidant polyphenols that are the core of tea’s health benefits. The most common process leaves traces of potentially dangerous chemicals on the leaf. The tea loses fullness of flavor and richness of aroma. But it’s caffeine-free and thus the choice of many consumers.”

Aside from the obvious issues of loss of flavor and depth of the tea, the toxic chemicals that are left behind in this decaffeination process pose a health risk to this otherwise wildly healthy beverage. Hongyacha brings out the best in green tea, while providing a substantial hit of EGCG. Who could ask for anything more!

For me, I very much enjoy the feeling of alert calm that I get from my first infusion of green tea each morning. By the time I’ve re-steeped the tea throughout the day, my evening cup has essentially no remaining caffeine. A good alternative for me would be a fresh cup of Hongyacha in the evening. I hope we’ll start to see this ancient varietal at our favorite tea shops.

Source

Photo “Green” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 to the photographer “Tigerspaws” and is being posted unaltered (source)



Happy Holidays One And All


Tis the season of festivities and we at T Ching wish you and yours a joyous holiday. May it be filled with family and dear friends sharing yummy food and outrageous teas. In the U.S., despite the heart wrenching political turmoil, we are extremely fortunate to be safe from imminent harm and threats to our very existence. We send our blessings for peace around the world and hope to see the day when people will support one another regardless of their religious beliefs or skin color, and despite their sexual preferences or educational experiences. We are all on this planet together and must learn to value, respect and care for one another.

Photo “Tea In Winter Time” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 to the photographer Vadim and is being posted unaltered (source)

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Meeting Online Tea Friends – T Ching


I’ve long since talked to lots of people online about tea.  That relates most to writing a blog about tea, and being an admin for an international themed FB tea group, and now for a second, and participation in forums or a sub-Reddit and such.

That has extended into real life more lately, with three people just visiting here in Bangkok.  I’ll use that example to lead into how value-oriented purchasing could enable tea swaps. Linking the ideas is a stretch, but it should work.  To keep it simple I’ll place the initial themes by visitor, and tie together the threads at the end.

Narendra Kumar Gurung, the Nepal tea vendor setting up a co-op style processing initiative, sent some teas.  A contact of his, Sunil Sainju, was visiting Bangkok for a conference so he brought them.  Right away this doesn’t seem to relate to how someone who isn’t blogging or talking to producers might use a similar approach, but I’ll get to that.  I just reviewed a golden needle style black from those: Very nice tea.

There are just a few online contacts who feel a lot like real-life friends, even though I’ve never actually met them.  Cindy of Wuyi Origin stands out; we’ve never actually met but I’d trust her with my kids. Anna of Kinnari Tea, who I just met, is another favorite.  It’s a little awkward adding that extra level of input about someone after only talking by message, but it’s rare that they’re not at all what you expect.  Anna is great.

I didn’t try any of the half-dozen Kinnari Teas (Laos versions) that she dropped off but I already know that they’re fantastic, unique, and high quality.  I gave her some samples of this and that, including some from Narendra (nice how it goes in a circle, especially shared with people who would appreciate them most).

I’ve been reviewing very unique teas from Laos and Vietnam recently, mostly local versions of sheng (pu’er-style teas).  In this case, passing on teas in return completed a tea swap. Due to space limitation, I’ll only mention one unique personal detail about Somnuc: He speaks Chinese, Vietnamese, French, English, and Laos, and is probably fluent in Thai (which overlaps with Lao). Very cool.

These mostly aren’t tea trades for me; more often people give me samples for blog review.  But I give away tea to anyone I think will appreciate it; not much quantity, but enough to try part of what I’m trying.  I think a related “swap” theme could apply to more people.

These three related tea sources aren’t exactly what I had in mind (and Somnuc doesn’t even sell tea), but still, let’s use the other two as an example.  Someone could reach out to Anna or Narendra to try to buy tea, and even though they’re both not really set up as end-point retail suppliers as agreeable people they’d probably help out with that.  Buying samples off a wholesale vendor seems a bit unrealistic but one might decide to buy a ¼ kilogram of a few different teas instead (for example).

That idea comes from a vendor selling their own produced teas in a large-block retail form, from the Halmari Assam producer’s offering a nice orthodox Assam black for $25 per 250 grams (with their “oolong” my own favorite).  That’s the smallest quantity they sell. Or Assam Teehaus is another co-op style producer selling similar teas, but that drifts off this theme.

Meeting Maddhurjya Gogoi and Bulu Deka (of Assam Teehaus), at the Jip Eu shop (with Sasha and Kittichai)

A similar approach might relate to a shared group-buy theme.  It doesn’t make sense to buy low quantities of teas from the other side of the world; shipping would cost as much as the tea.  The higher the volume the more that proportion balances back out. Or someone with a kilogram (or pound) of tea, who doesn’t plan to just drink through it, could use it for trades for other teas, or for gifts.

There’s lots more that I could say about making tea contacts online, trying out other novel forms of teas, or limitations and potential problems with swaps; but that covers the initial broad themes.  This post on more direct producer sourcing might spark some other ideas, but only on the supply side.

Images provided and copyright held by author