Lettuce Leaf Tea……..? – T Ching


Every once in a while I come across something new, and lettuce leaf tea is a good example. I’ve never heard of it before. I found a few resources that give information about the amazing health benefits of this leaf, and when it’s organic it’s even better. So join me in learning about this interesting tissane.

Lettuce was first grown by the ancient Egyptians, thousands of years ago. It was considered to be “sacred”  due to its perceived healing benefits. Today, we can find lettuce in most every market around the world. Its use as a medicinal tea, however, has not yet become mainstream here in the U.S.

Health Benefits of Lettuce

There appear to be at least eight health qualities of the lettuce leaf that we should familiarize ourselves with.

  1. Neuroprotective features. There is animal based research to suggest that lettuce leaf extract can protect neurons in the brain from dying. It is believed that neuronal death causes memory loss which is the hallmark of a variety of forms of dementia.
  2. Reduces inflammation. Inflammation is the new issue that the alternative community is focusing on. The belief is that inflammation is the root cause of almost ALL diseases, both chronic and acute. In experimental models, lettuce leaf has been shown to impact inflammation.
  3. Aides in sleep. “One of the major traditional uses of lettuce in Unani medicine was as a sleep inducer. Research into the extracts of lettuce resulted in the isolation of a depressant chemical. This chemical, when administered in experimental animals, showed significant sedative effects. A 2013 research report, suggests that the main component(s) responsible for this effect in lettuce is most likely to be the non-polar agent(s),which are found in the n-butanol fraction (NBF)of this plant. [source] Decreased heart rate and ventricular contractions were also observed. This particular chemical acts by blocking the excitatory signal processes of muscular and neural tissues.”
  4. Reduces anxiety. There is some animal research that suggests that lettuce leaf has anxiolytic properties. When we consider how much money is spent annually on anti-anxiety medications, it’s certainly reasonable to consider this natural remedy. Apart from possible allergic reactions, which are possible with any food, there are no apparent side effects.
  5. Cholesterol lowering. Although there is some controversy regarding high levels of LDL cholesterol and its impact on heart health and stroke, there is evidence that lettuce leaf can lower cholesterol.
  6. Reduces the risk of certain cancers.
  7. Rich source of antioxidants. “Studies have shown that lettuce possesses antioxidants with significant free radical-scavenging capabilities. [source] Antioxidants are a wide range of biochemicals mostly found in our diet; they are also very necessary for human health. Antioxidants act as barriers to free radicals, which are produced during cellular metabolism. These free radicals attack healthy tissues, cells, and the DNA inside them. They can often cause healthy cells to mutate into cancer cells. The result is the development of various diseases. Antioxidants, on the other hand, counteract these free radicals and neutralize them before the free radical attacks take place.”
  8. Antimicrobial properties. I know that white tea has been shown to have an abundance of antimicrobial properties. It appears that lettuce leaf does as well.

Given all the evidence of potential health benefits, I think it’s reasonable to add this healthy plant into our wellness routine. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen lettuce leaf tea for sale, but fortunately, we have google to lead the way. Remember that with all plants and food products, organic is always best.

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Blast From the Past: Tea and its unique synergism of caffeine and L-theanine


Over the years, there have been many studies looking at the effects of caffeine and – more recently – L-theanine on human performance and mood.  However, I have noticed a growing body of research looking at the synergistic effect of both as found in tea.  Most recently, I read a study, sponsored by The Journal of Nutrition which looked at the effects of caffeine and L-theanine on cognitive performance.

I’m sure all readers are familiar with caffeine, either from personal experience or reading.  For those of you, however, who are not familiar with L-theanine, just a few bits of information.  L-theanine is found only in tea in any significant amount.  It is an amino acid that has a relaxing effect physiologically and subjectively.  This is further supported by research that shows distinct increases in the alpha brain-wave frequency.  Alpha, as many of you may know (especially if you were of college age in the 1960s), has been long associated with a relaxed, but alert state, of consciousness.

Without going into too much detail about how the study was set up, they looked at 44 young adults who consumed a RTD tea beverage, concocted for this study, that contained 40 mg of caffeine and 97 mg of L-theanine, along with sweeteners and lemon flavor, in a powder form combined with water.  The beverage used for the placebo group contained the same ingredients, except the caffeine and L-theanine.  The normal ratio of caffeine to L-theanine found in tea (35–61 mg of caffeine and 4.5–22.5 mg) was jacked up on the L-theanine side for this study because they were more interested in looking at what L-theanine adds to caffeine.  The subjects were given a variety of performance tasks related to attention and speed of processing and had their blood pressure and alertness/tiredness periodically monitored.

The results showed that the synergistic effect of caffeine and L-theanine specifically improved attentional functioning on challenging, complex tasks vs. previous findings on caffeine showing attentional improvement on more simple tasks.  In addition, as you might imagine, the combination also showed an increase in perceived alertness and reduction in fatigue as reported by a subjective measure completed by participants.  The final results also showed that, although there was a slight increase in systolic blood pressure, it was smaller than what is typically found in studies looking at the effects of caffeine alone on blood pressure.  The authors further pointed out that previous meta-analyses of the effects of tea on blood pressure suggest that long-term consumption appears not to increase blood pressure and, in fact, has shown to be protective of stroke incidents.

It is for the above reasons that tea has had such a propitious history in helping people improve performance (and health), whether for meditation or figuring out complex mathematical equations.  Drink your tea and live life to its fullest.

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This post first published November 2010 by Sandy Bushberg.



Harding Intsik in Manila – T Ching

Harding Intsik, an obscure attraction inside Manila’s vast Rizal Park, is a Chinese garden designed and gifted decades ago by the Taiwanese government.  A set of postage stamps featuring two of the most notorious dictators in Asia–namely Philippines’s Ferdinand Marcos and Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek–commemorates the garden’s completion in 1967.

Though not as splendid as Chinese gardens elsewhere, Harding Intsik incorporates the essential elements – zigzag bridge over pond, pavilions and corridors, statues of literati, lush vegetation, etc.  It could be the only oriental garden, on Planet Earth, adorned with giant palm trees!  No tea house or tea service onsite though.

 Before arriving in Manila during an eight-hour layover, I was warned numerous times about the city’s traffic congestion, which restricted my adventure to only the must-visit Intramuros – Spanish Colonial Period’s Walled City.  Manila is endowed with a sizable Chinatown and the peculiar Chinese Cemetery, neither of which piqued my interest.  It was during the drive to Intramuros that I stumbled upon Harding Intsik.

Those who were at the garden that rainy afternoon appeared to be university students.  They found shelter to escape the unpleasant mishmash of rain and heat; I could picture them sitting at the same spot, reading the same book in any sunny day though. Whatever they were drinking to quench thirst and combat humidity was either coffee or water, not tea.  Most tourists graded the garden lackluster, even a waste of time.  Certainly it was not built for tourists.  Its construction aimed to attain political goals, which fortunately entertain residents of a cacophonous, over-populated metropolis.

This is my tenth year contributing to T Ching.  I decided to write about Harding Intsik while reading in one review, after my trip, that although the Taiwanese government, more specifically, the Nationalist Party’s exploitation of taxpayer money, funded the entire project, all “evidence” such as commemorative plaques had been removed or replaced since the so-called “Rise of China.”  My tour guide photographed me holding an umbrella in front of the winding corridor.  How I wish I had turned around to inspect one plaque pinned to the corridor pillar, as shown in the photo, but there is really not a need.  Due to pressure from China, Taiwan is not admitted to not only the United Nations but also organizations such as the United Nations’ information-distributing, humanitarian agency WHO (World Health Organization).  At China’s request earlier this year, major airlines deleted references to Taiwan in their flight schedules.  The East Asian Olympic Committee barred TaiChung, Taiwan’s second largest city, from hosting the East Asian Youth Games.  All had been a struggle for the oppressed during the past ten years, and the struggle persists in the coming ten years when the oppressor wields power regardless of the sophomoric, trite propaganda and implementation.

Images provided by author

Blast From the Past: Time for moving on


Coffee and I had an ugly divorce.
“Bad for you,” the doctor said,
“Too much caffeine for your heart. Try green tea.”

Rather than marvel that a trained Medicine Man was endorsing
tea, I grieved. Suffered.
Woes of unrequited love. Anger. Denial. Deal-making.

The trappings of my failed marriage were lined up on the counter:
grinder; espresso maker; the finest muslin filters. A dozen message mugs.
Half-empty bags of beans.
All victims of a relationship turned sour.

My first dates with tea were blind. Bags.
I almost had one of those internet flings after
flirting with the likes of Twinings and Harney & Sons.
Gasp.

Rescued from the brink by T Ching, I am in love again.

No regrets.

Originally posted in November 2008 by uncredited

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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!

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Image Two provided by and copyright held by author
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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

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