Blast From the Past: Stress, stress, and more stress!


When do women look their worst? What is the most stressful day of the week? What is the most stressful time of the year? How does stress affect the body? How do you relieve stress?

stress_screamA British survey has concluded that Tuesday at 11:45 AM is when stress hits the hardest – many Americans agree. And a British company launching an anti-aging cream found that women look their worst on Wednesdays at 3:30 PM.

In America, Monday was perceived to be the most stressful day of the week, but upon delving into that, it was also the day most people dawdled (my word). The things they put off on Monday hit home hard on Tuesday, causing a great deal of stress.  For many, Wednesday was the most stressful day of the week and the day most people reported working through their lunch hours. Another survey reported that Thursday is a common night for people to have sex – contributing to the fact that Fridays seem to be the least stressful day for many. They believed there was a direct tie-in.

Holidays can also be the most stressful time for folks, but they can also be the happiest time for many. Traffic is stressful, co-workers are stressful, bosses are stressful, family problems are stressful, responsibilities are stressful, and deadlines are stressful. A lack of sleep makes us easily stressed.

According to WebMD.com:

“43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
* 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
* Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
* The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.”

A great deal of information is out there about stress – some contradictory, some startling, and some subjective. But stress is stress, so wherever it comes from, we must learn to deal with it, relieve it, and release it.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.
*  Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
*  Of course, if you’re not sure if stress is the cause or if you’ve taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, see your doctor. Your doctor may want to check for other potential causes.”

When I asked what FOODS help to relieve stress – guess what came up several times?
Yes, TEA!

black_crackle_potOf course, you knew I was going there! Sadly though, most Americans are not aware that tea can help them relax, and therefore, relieve their stress.  According to EatingWell.com,
“‘Drinking caffeinated black, green or oolong tea varieties may elicit a more alert state of mind,’ says a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Researchers think theanine – an amino acid present in these tea varieties – may work synergistically with caffeine to improve attention and focus. To reap the benefits, the study’s results suggest drinking five to six (8-ounce) cups of tea daily.”

This is not news to those of us in the world of tea, but I truly believe that this is also part of a very valuable message we can impart to those purchasing our teas or questioning the need for tea: “Stress drags us down – tea lifts us up.”

Keep the message plain and simple and send your customers away with hope and appreciation. Let them know that in the time it takes to mindfully sip a cup of tea they can enhance their lives and take better take care of their mind, body, and soul.

Ladies, take a teapot to work, put a stash of tea in a drawer, plug in your kettles, and sip the stress away. Especially before 3:00 PM on Wednesday, steep your tea and get a jump on the Wednesday 3:30 PM doldrums because it is showing up on our faces. And yes, used teabags on closed eye lids are still a tried-and-true remedy that works!

IMAGE 1 | IMAGE 2

This article was originally posted in March 2013



Green Tea 101: Health Benefits Made Simple – Part 2


Dopamine!

In simple terms, Dopamine is a hormone (and a neurotransmitter) that is produced in your brain. It’s known as the “reward” hormone associated with good experiences. When you find a wad of cash on the street, immediately you feel an excited sensation and your heart seems to flutter. This is dopamine being released! In love? Yep, dopamine! Other effects include motivation, voluntary movement, sleep, mood, attention, focus, memory retention and learning to name but a few things.

So what does this have to do with tea and health? Well, in order to produce dopamine, certain amino acids are required. These amino acids come to us in foods and drinks. But in order to produce dopamine, these amino acids need to cross what is called the “blood-brain barrier” or BBB. Think of this as a maze to get into your brain. It’s filled with tiny alleyways that block substances from getting through to the brain, like viruses for instance. Most substances can’t cross over this barrier but Theanine can.

According to doctors Hidehiko Yokogoshi and Takehiko Terashima (leaders in Theanine-based research) at the Laboratory of Nutritional Biochemistry in Shizuoka, when you drink green tea, dopamine levels are significantly increased in the brain.

It’s worth repeating that green tea is just about the only thing in nature that contains Theanine and lots of it! This means it can boost production of dopamine in the brain when you drink it. These two doctors went on to explain how Theanine also promotes Alpha wave functions in the brain and this is what causes you to have an alert yet relaxed physical and mental state. In other words, it is your personal stress management system!

It’s also a well-known anecdote in Japan that Theanine is one of the best hangover helpers out there. The benefits of Theanine are too extensive to list but suffice to say, it’s the daddy of all feel-good substances.

The Science of Flow

When I drink Japanese green tea, I find that my state is energized, not jittery, my mind is clear, and I’m really in my flow.  New ideas seem to be coming from out of nowhere, connections are being made, my intuition is bionic and life seems to be sailing along with effortless ease. Some scientists refer to this as “the relaxed yet alert state” but they are missing something essential: creative JUICE!  I call this the “Science of Flow” because green tea is the conduit to get you into a state of effortless flow where inspiration is bubbling up from inside of you. I wonder why no one seems to be talking about this major benefit! Surely I’m not the only one who experiences creative flow as I sip my favorite kabusecha. I urge you to consider drinking only green tea when embarking on a creative adventure and see how well you do. Then drop me a line to join the club!

Illustrations taken from “Green is the New Black – the Glorious rise of Japanese green tea” by Holly Helt



Blast From the Past: Stress, stress, and more stress!


When do women look their worst? What is the most stressful day of the week? What is the most stressful time of the year? How does stress affect the body? How do you relieve stress?

stress_screamA British survey has concluded that Tuesday at 11:45 AM is when stress hits the hardest – many Americans agree. And a British company launching an anti-aging cream found that women look their worst on Wednesdays at 3:30 PM.

In America, Monday was perceived to be the most stressful day of the week, but upon delving into that, it was also the day most people dawdled (my word). The things they put off on Monday hit home hard on Tuesday, causing a great deal of stress.  For many, Wednesday was the most stressful day of the week and the day most people reported working through their lunch hours. Another survey reported that Thursday is a common night for people to have sex – contributing to the fact that Fridays seem to be the least stressful day for many. They believed there was a direct tie-in.

Holidays can also be the most stressful time for folks, but they can also be the happiest time for many. Traffic is stressful, co-workers are stressful, bosses are stressful, family problems are stressful, responsibilities are stressful, and deadlines are stressful. A lack of sleep makes us easily stressed.

According to WebMD.com:

“43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
* 75% to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
* Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
* The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.”

A great deal of information is out there about stress – some contradictory, some startling, and some subjective. But stress is stress, so wherever it comes from, we must learn to deal with it, relieve it, and release it.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.
*  Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
*  Of course, if you’re not sure if stress is the cause or if you’ve taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, see your doctor. Your doctor may want to check for other potential causes.”

When I asked what FOODS help to relieve stress – guess what came up several times?
Yes, TEA!

black_crackle_potOf course, you knew I was going there! Sadly though, most Americans are not aware that tea can help them relax, and therefore, relieve their stress.  According to EatingWell.com,
“‘Drinking caffeinated black, green or oolong tea varieties may elicit a more alert state of mind,’ says a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Researchers think theanine – an amino acid present in these tea varieties – may work synergistically with caffeine to improve attention and focus. To reap the benefits, the study’s results suggest drinking five to six (8-ounce) cups of tea daily.”

This is not news to those of us in the world of tea, but I truly believe that this is also part of a very valuable message we can impart to those purchasing our teas or questioning the need for tea: “Stress drags us down – tea lifts us up.”

Keep the message plain and simple and send your customers away with hope and appreciation. Let them know that in the time it takes to mindfully sip a cup of tea they can enhance their lives and take better take care of their mind, body, and soul.

Ladies, take a teapot to work, put a stash of tea in a drawer, plug in your kettles, and sip the stress away. Especially before 3:00 PM on Wednesday, steep your tea and get a jump on the Wednesday 3:30 PM doldrums because it is showing up on our faces. And yes, used teabags on closed eye lids are still a tried-and-true remedy that works!

IMAGE 1 | IMAGE 2

This article was originally posted in March 2013



Green Tea 101: Health Benefits Made Simple – Part 2


Dopamine!

In simple terms, Dopamine is a hormone (and a neurotransmitter) that is produced in your brain. It’s known as the “reward” hormone associated with good experiences. When you find a wad of cash on the street, immediately you feel an excited sensation and your heart seems to flutter. This is dopamine being released! In love? Yep, dopamine! Other effects include motivation, voluntary movement, sleep, mood, attention, focus, memory retention and learning to name but a few things.

So what does this have to do with tea and health? Well, in order to produce dopamine, certain amino acids are required. These amino acids come to us in foods and drinks. But in order to produce dopamine, these amino acids need to cross what is called the “blood-brain barrier” or BBB. Think of this as a maze to get into your brain. It’s filled with tiny alleyways that block substances from getting through to the brain, like viruses for instance. Most substances can’t cross over this barrier but Theanine can.

According to doctors Hidehiko Yokogoshi and Takehiko Terashima (leaders in Theanine-based research) at the Laboratory of Nutritional Biochemistry in Shizuoka, when you drink green tea, dopamine levels are significantly increased in the brain.

It’s worth repeating that green tea is just about the only thing in nature that contains Theanine and lots of it! This means it can boost production of dopamine in the brain when you drink it. These two doctors went on to explain how Theanine also promotes Alpha wave functions in the brain and this is what causes you to have an alert yet relaxed physical and mental state. In other words, it is your personal stress management system!

It’s also a well-known anecdote in Japan that Theanine is one of the best hangover helpers out there. The benefits of Theanine are too extensive to list but suffice to say, it’s the daddy of all feel-good substances.

The Science of Flow

When I drink Japanese green tea, I find that my state is energized, not jittery, my mind is clear, and I’m really in my flow.  New ideas seem to be coming from out of nowhere, connections are being made, my intuition is bionic and life seems to be sailing along with effortless ease. Some scientists refer to this as “the relaxed yet alert state” but they are missing something essential: creative JUICE!  I call this the “Science of Flow” because green tea is the conduit to get you into a state of effortless flow where inspiration is bubbling up from inside of you. I wonder why no one seems to be talking about this major benefit! Surely I’m not the only one who experiences creative flow as I sip my favorite kabusecha. I urge you to consider drinking only green tea when embarking on a creative adventure and see how well you do. Then drop me a line to join the club!

Illustrations taken from “Green is the New Black – the Glorious rise of Japanese green tea” by Holly Helt



Green Tea 101: Health Benefits Made Simple – Part 1


I haven’t written about the health benefits of green tea on this blog because there is just so much information out there. But during a matcha whisking event for some ex-pats living in Japan, the topic dominated the conversation, although no one knew why it was so healthy…just that it was. It occurred to me that the benefits need to be dumbed down and told in simple English! I’ll attempt to do just that…

Studies have been conducted on green tea related to everything from mental alertness, frailty, anti-aging, heart disease, skin health, gastrointestinal disorders, stroke, osteoporosis, cognitive impairment, oral health, arthritis, and obesity. As the years pass, more good news emerges about the health benefits of drinking green tea on a daily basis and as a result, green tea is here to stay.

Green tea contains polyphenols, which is a very broad class of structurally related antioxidants. A subgroup of polyphenols, known as flavan-3ols (flavanols) or catechins (pronounced cat-ah-kins), shows up big time in green tea. In fact, tea has one of the highest concentrations of catechins of all foods and beverages out there.

It also contains tannin, a polyphenol, (different from tannic acid), which produces the astringent or dry-mouth component in green tea. Basically, the tannin binds to the protein in your saliva and causes it to shrink and this is what gives you that chalky feeling on your tongue and makes you want to smack your lips.

Of course, we already know that caffeine is present but you also need to know about Theanine, or what I call the “miracle amino acid” which produces the calming effect of green tea.

Let’s dive deeper

Catechins are natural plant antioxidants and they show up in foods like cacao, argan oil, acai oil, berries, and vinegar to name a few. There are four main catechins in green tea but of these catechins, a very special one is only found in green tea: Epigallocatechin-3-gallate or simplified, EGCG. I have no idea who really needs to remember this but it’s getting all the fanfare because of studies showing that EGCG is anti-aging, cancer preventing and makes fat cells run for mercy. Just FYI, when teas such as black teas, oolongs, and pu’erhs are oxidized, the EGCG is more or less neutralized, so don’t grab an Earl Grey hoping for a major health hit.

The main health benefit of green tea is how rich it is in antioxidants, which, if you don’t know, protect your cells against damage from all kinds of things, including pollution, preservatives, pesticides, and even emotions! Free radicals are running wild inside your body causing damage and the antioxidants are hunting them down.

“But so many things have antioxidants – why is green tea so special?” I hear you say! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the ORAC table up until May 2012 to measure the strength of antioxidants in the foods we eat. This table gave Japanese Matcha a score of 1253, which completely outnumbers the antioxidants in superfoods like Goji berries (253 score) and Acai (60 score). Sadly the ORAC table was taken down from the USDA website because opportunist marketers abused the information to make outrageous health claims so we can’t see the chart anymore.

Theanine!

Theanine, or L-Theanine, is an amino acid that you find in the Camellia Sinensis leaf. It rarely shows up in anything else in nature except a type of uncommon mushroom (Bay Bolete) and, yes, the Holly tree. Luckily green tea has a lot of Theanine! Of the total content of all the amino acids in green tea, Theanine claims around 60 to 70 percent.  This amino acid is responsible for most of the flavor, especially the sweetness, and is what makes tea so talked about, particularly in terms of how a sip makes you feel. You can’t exactly feel antioxidants at work in your body, you just believe they are doing their job. Not so with Theanine. You can FEEL it!

What I find really interesting is what happens when Theanine mingles with caffeine. It’s this tango of caffeine and Theanine that gives you the bliss and clarity, which is so pronounced when you drink green tea. You need both in the proper ratio to get that feeling. The Theanine and caffeine combo also reduces physical stress and gets the creative juices flowing. This is all due to how Theanine elevates dopamine levels in the brain… The topic of caffeine in green tea could be a blog post all on its own but in a nutshell, caffeine is slowly released into the bloodstream due to metabolizing the catechins so you don’t get that jittery feeling and then crash.

To be continued in part two tomorrow!

Illustrations taken from “Green is the New Black – the Glorious rise of Japanese green tea” by Holly Helt



Tea And Cycling – A Perfect British Combination


It is a well-known fact that Brits love a cuppa, in fact, 37% of British people drink 2 to 3 cups of tea a day and popping into a tea shop while out shopping, hiking or on a bike ride is a popular activity. Cycling is a great way to experience a country, especially Britain, so why not combine a love of tea, travel, and cycling and saddle up in search of the perfect cup of tea and some guilt-free cake.

Getting started

Sustrans, a British cycling charity manage the National Cycle Network, 14,000 miles of traffic-free paths and quiet on-road cycling crisscrossing the UK linking up villages, towns, and cities. Once you are in Britain, there are plenty of places where bikes can be hired for a few hours, days or weeks. Confused by the options available? Ask the bike hire shop to help you work out which bicycle works for you. Next, work out where to go. Do you prefer rugged coastlines or rolling green hills? Mountains, or flat riverside paths? Urban or country cycling. Britain has it all and more besides. Now you have a map, a route, and a bicycle, it is time to go in search of tea and cake.

The perfect British cuppa

There are many tea shops and cafés in Britain and it won’t take long until you find one. Finding the perfect cup of British tea should be easy. The perfect cup of tea starts by warming the teapot. It is warmed by rinsing it out with hot water. Next, tea leaves are added, one teaspoon per person and “one for the pot”. Either place the leaves directly in the pot, and use a filter over each cup when pouring to catch the loose leaves, or use a tea infuser. The tea is infused for 3-5 minutes before serving. Most Brits serve with milk, historically this is because a drop of milk in the teacup prevented the hot tea from cracking delicate porcelain cups but nowadays the milk is poured in afterward. Sugar cubes or crystals are then added according to taste.

A slice of cake

A slice of cake is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. A Victoria Sponge–a vanilla sponge cake filled with jam and cream–is quintessentially British. Or try scones, a sweet cake also served with jam or cream which is the equivalent of the American biscuit. And if you are feeling really indulgent, how about a slice of indulgent chocolate cake or tangy lemon drizzle cake. The choices are endless and your waistline may be worried but don’t worry, one hour of leisurely cycling burns around 250 calories so it won’t take long to work off the cake while cycling to your next tea stop!

Britain is a great country to cycle around, especially when tea is available at every opportunity. Book your tickets now and take some vacation time, your perfect cuppa is waiting for you here.

Freelance contribution by Lucy Wyndham.

Image source



Blast From the Past: A Tea Love Potion


The Spring display in the windows of Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly.

Spring is here!  And what do they say a young man’s fancy turns to?  Yes, LOVE, of course.  I don’t think fanciful thoughts belong exclusively to young men, though.  Perhaps we all have thoughts about love in the spring – finding love, creating love, and rejuvenating love.  For eons, we have heard of love potions and I have stumbled upon one – made with TEA – imagine that.  It seemed innocent enough, so I have chosen to share it with you all.  It did come with incantation instructions, but I believe that if it is prepared and shared with love in mind, it could indeed be the perfect love potion.

•    Pinch of Rosemary
•    2 tsp. Black Tea
•    3 pinches of Thyme
•    3 pinches of Nutmeg
•    3 fresh Mint Leaves
•    6 fresh Rose Petals
•    6 Lemon Balm Leaves
•    Pure Spring Water
•    Sweetener to taste
•    One earthenware or copper tea kettle

Boil all ingredients together in 3 cups of fresh spring water – it didn’t say for how long, but I think you will just know when you know.

I do not believe you have to wait for the moon to be in perfect alignment, but I do believe YOU have to be in perfect alignment to attract love.  If our fancies are indeed turning to love, we must BE love in order to attract it or enhance it.  Perhaps this love potion is something we all need to make for ourselves first – and then see what happens.  Now, I have not tried it – so if anyone out there does – please share your results.

As you are sipping, know that it is first about trust – trusting in yourself and all your wonderful qualities, and most definitely trusting in the greater wisdom of our universe and that all things unfold and unfurl as they need to for our highest good.

The following is not an incantation – but a prayer that I created for attracting love.  If it appeals to you, feel free to read it while you are sipping your love potion.

Compatibili-Tea

Love has its season just as God has Its reason.
I stand steady as I allow my heart to get ready.
I am open to receive and I choose to believe God is all there is.
Love is all there is.  One with God, one with all;
from the One Mind, I have one in mind;
a mate, a match, lovable and compatible.
First, I accept and love myself for the growing spirit I am.
Seeing my own good allows me to see
the congeniality of the right person for me.
In loving myself pure love is what I attract;
this is a universal law – a divine fact.
I’ll settle for nothing less.  I claim my own happiness.
I send out thanks, I know I’ve been heard.
I trust divine timing and I trust the Word.
God’s time is my time and I let it all be.
I choose love and acceptance.
I’ll just wait and see.
I have faith on my side and God
as my guide true love will abide.
All is perfect for me.
Amen

Image Source

This article was originally published in March 2010.



Where is Whole Leaf Tea?


I came upon some information from Mintel that reveals the continuing increase in tea bag consumption around the world. Here are the statistics for the top 5 global rankings:

India consumes 678,200 metric tons of bagged tea annually

China   576,800 metric tons

Turkey  173,400 metric tons

Russia  134,200

Japan  92.900

When we consider whole leaf consumption however, China remains the leading tea consumption country in the world.

I certainly understand the convenience issue with a tea bag. I always keep a few packets of Smith Tea in my purse for when I’m not home and unsure of the quality of tea that might be available at restaurants, cafes or even friends’ and families’ houses. But when I’m home, I would NEVER drink tea bag tea. Once one has a proper sized pot and cup for single serving purposes, the effort is no more time consuming or challenging than using a tea bag. In addition, with high-quality whole leaf tea, I have the ability to resteep those leaves throughout the day, providing a superior cup of tea at a reduced price when compared to the tea bag which only allows for a single steep due to its reduction in the amount of tea available. I can’t understand why people aren’t figuring this out. I realize tea sellers might not want to explain this to their tea bag buying customers who are paying a higher price for their tea bags. Once one becomes a tea lover however and begins to scratch below the surface, it’s hard to understand why whole leaf tea isn’t growing by leaps and bounds.

When we look to coffee, we see that when growing connoisseurship takes hold, people invest in expensive brewing devices and expensive artisanal coffees.  When will this shift occur within the growing tea connoisseur market? I understand that in the U.S., the RTD market is still the leader in tea consumption. I’m happy to see a shift within that market for healthier ice teas which suffered as the health market was not coming on board for unhealthy, sugary teas.

Perhaps if each of us tea lovers can become ambassadors of whole leaf tea, then we can create a shift in people’s awareness and understanding. For me, there is such joy in making and sipping a simple, organic, orthodox, whole leaf cup of tea. Yes, it took my palette a bit of time to adjust to the mild flavors of green and white teas, but when properly brewed, I’ve come to appreciate and value the sweetness of the leaf.

Image Source



Drink To Fight Inflammation – T Ching


Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation has gotten a lot of attention in recent years because of the health implications. Inflammation is the body’s immune system response. This article will give you a basic understanding of inflammation and how tea can be used as a tool to combat it.

TWO DIFFERENT IMMUNE RESPONSES

You’re born with a natural immune response system, also called innate immunity. Think of it as a sort of general purpose immune response.  Adaptive immunity is developed after a vaccination or an infection where the body learns to fight a specific agent.

TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF INFLAMMATION

Acute inflammation is immune system response, such as a scratch or bruise (think of the swelling),  or a germ or virus(think of a fever).   This type of inflammation is shorter lasting – it peaks, as your body deals with it (hopefully) then your body heals and the inflammatory response goes away.

Chronic inflammation can be caused by a variety of pathogens but also environmental and lifestyle factors. Chronic inflammation is slow, and is responding to something it cannot get rid of or stop. One example is Lyme disease, or it could be a deeply lodged splinter, pollution, or exposure to chemicals. Regardless, the long-lasting nature of chronic inflammation eventually leads to serious physical issues that can affect organs and other vital systems. This leads to more serious diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. The problem with this type of inflammation is that you cannot always see it, especially if it’s internal. But it may reveal itself in other ways – such as getting sick often, lack of energy, lethargy, etc.

Thermographic image of the front of the whole body of a woman with the photo showing different temperatures in a range of colors from blue showing cold to red showing hot which can indicate joint inflammation.

YOU FEEL OK, BUT ARE YOU?

Assuming you are not diagnosed with any serious medical condition, how can you avoid the environmental factors that may lead to inflammation? Some inflammation may not be easily noticed, or might be mild enough to where you feel ‘ok’ but still might be not healthy beneath the surface.

One of the biggest culprits is diet. It’s no surprise that the modern western processed food diet corresponds to the worst possible diet. This is why the prevalence of chronic diseases is very high for people that eat the typical American diet. This is the type of food found in many low-cost restaurants and big chunks of supermarket shelves. Some of the specific culprits are fried foods, white refined carbs, sugary drinks, red meat, and lard.

On the opposite end, foods like olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, leafy greens, fatty fish like salmon, and fruit (including blueberries and oranges) can reduce inflammation. But there are also herbs like ginger and turmeric that are also very effective.

TEA – AN EASY WAY TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION

Your goal should be to prime the immune system using a proper diet. One great way to increase the intake of beneficial anti-inflammatory compounds is through tea. You can drink plain tea to get anti-inflammatory benefits. Polyphenols are the antioxidant compounds found in tea, and specifically catechins. These are found in higher concentrations in un-oxidized tea, such as green and white. Tea also stimulates T-cell production, so you will have a stronger immune system overall. One newcomer on the scene is purple tea. Purple tea is processed just like a green tea, but it has the distinctive purple color from the anthocyanins, the same anti-oxidant compound that makes blueberries so healthy.

As mentioned, many herbs also contain inflammatory compounds. Ginger and turmeric are some examples, but there are many others such as sage, lemon verbena, milk thistle, the list goes on and on. One long-term analysis looked at blue zones: Areas of the world that have longer living inhabitants. Two distinctive areas were Okinawa, Japan and Ikarus, Greece. Both of these areas had certain diet aspects that rank high on healthy foods list, but they both also drank tea. In Japan, it was green tea. In Greece, it was a wild herbal mountain tea. They took the herbal tea and tested in a lab and found the tea contained all sorts of beneficial compounds, and thus the drinkers were exposing themselves to a constant low dosage of nature’s medicine.

A more recent story in the Wall Street Journal showed how gene therapy can be used to customize diets based on your genetics. During the initial trials, they exposed mice to a variety of diets. The control group, representing the “general” population was given these 5 different diets to compare longevity. It was no surprise that the #1 diet in this general group was the Japanese diet, which included green tea extract. Until we get to the stage where individual DNA can be analyzed and the diet custom, tea will at least better the odds for a healthier outcome.

Some people may try to take the shortcut and go to pills. This is not recommended because often the doses of the compounds are too high, and because they are not consumed as a food or drink, they hit your body at much higher concentrations than recommended. Drinking the teas will prevent this, because you would have to drink a massive amount in order to get into the danger zone. And your body will flush out a lot of the excess liquid through urination.  Besides, drinking tea is the same as drinking water.

So what are some recommended teas to drink to get these benefits?

  1. Any green/white/purple tea. From a broad health perspective, any type whether flavored or non-flavored will provide benefits. For someone totally new to tea, flavored is always a good way to start out.
  2. Matcha. Matcha is simply a ground up form of tea. Because you are drinking the leaf you get the added benefit of soluble fiber. New tea drinkers may not be totally used to the matcha flavor, but luckily there are a wide variety of flavored matchas. One note, Matcha lattes often contain sugar. Making matcha at home allows you to control this and keep added sugar low.
  3. Herbal teas – Drink herbal teas that contain a variety of spices and herbs. While herbs can be consumed solo, we prefer to have teas that contain a variety of different herbs. We looked at some popular herbal blends and found nearly all the ingredients had some sort of anti-inflammatory benefit.
  4. Oolong tea can be considered as well, especially the green varieties. Just look at the color – if you see green, then it’s probably a good candidate.

 Quality loose tea is always the best way to go, and remember adding lots of sugar will negate or reverse any of the health benefits. This is why bottled teas, for the most part, are NOT RECOMMENDED as many of them have enormous amounts of added sugars. If you are on the go, take a tumbler with you and just drop a little tea.



What is the best way store your matcha & Japanese green tea?


Matcha, an ancient Japanese green tea, has become widespread due to its countless health benefits, antioxidant properties, and similar-to-coffee caffeine content. Before you run to the store and stock up on this vibrant green powder, however, you must know how to care for it.

Matcha is delicate, like a newborn baby. You simply cannot leave an open jar of matcha powder on your kitchen counter – when exposed to elements such as heat and air, matcha will lose its flavor, freshness, and antioxidants within days.

Read on to learn how to store matcha the proper way to ensure that you get the most out of this ancient elixir.

Oxygen Robs Matcha Tea of Life-Preserving Catechins and Vitamins

Catechins are a type of antioxidant found in matcha tea. In fact, this is probably one of the reasons you began drinking matcha in the first place – you heard of its abundant health benefits. However, you must take proper care of your tea to ensure that it retains those benefits.

Matcha tea’s number-one threat is oxygen. Oxidization deteriorates the tea’s nutrients such as catechins and vitamins. Therefore, your matcha must be stored in an airtight container.

There are numerous airtight containers on the market, many of them created specifically for tea storage. Make sure not to store your tea in a simple Ziploc bag or plastic kitchen container, however, because your matcha will still be exposed to the air that is inside the container, and thus, it will oxidize.

You need a container which squeezes air out, leaving the tea in a vacuum. One strategy is to put matcha into a Ziploc bag, squeeze all of the air out, and then store that bag inside a matcha-specific airtight container such as DICTEA – Airtight Small Storage Jar Porcelain Container for Matcha Powder and Loose Leaf Tea. Keep reading for more top-notch oxygen-proof storage options.

DICTEA – Airtight Small Storage Jar Porcelain Container for Matcha Powder and Loose Leaf Tea

Storing in the Fridge Prevents Heat Damage, but, it May Make Your Tea Taste Funny

You may also know that heat and humidity can turn matcha tea stale. If you live in a hot and humid place, you may be tempted to throw your jar of matcha in the fridge. Before you do so, however, we suggest you consider these additional points.

Firstly, tea (especially matcha tea) will quickly absorb strong odors including that leftover plate of chicken wings sitting in your fridge covered in tinfoil. Without proper precautions, your precious matcha could end up tasting like leftover chicken wings.

To prevent this fate, we once again recommend storing matcha in multiple layers of airtight protection. A good method is to use the Ziploc bag inside of an airtight container, as described above.

Don’t Prepare Cold Matcha Straight Out of the Fridge
Furthermore, storing tea in the fridge may in fact create the humidity-damaging effects that you intended to prevent.

When you remove tea from the fridge, the tea is cold. It then comes into contact with warmer air in your house, producing condensation and therefore introducing the tea to freshness-damaging moisture.

A solution is to take out the tea storage container, keep the lid closed, and let it warm up for several hours on the counter. After the tea has been allowed to warm up for at least half a day, then you may open the container and prepare delicious matcha.

In short, storing matcha in the fridge (not in the freezer) is fine if you care for your tea properly.

Store Matcha in The Dark: Light Will Eat Away its Abundant Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is a chemical which gives plants their green color. Because matcha is a special variety of shade-grown green tea, it takes much longer for the plant to mature, and thus, the tea leaves produce higher levels of chlorophyll – this is what makes matcha distinct from other green teas and what gives it its electric green color.

The drawback is that as light helps matcha plants produce chlorophyll, it also destroys chlorophyll once the matcha is processed. Therefore, tea experts suggest storing matcha in a dark place or a dark (not clear) container. Exposing matcha to light, they say, may give the tea a metallic taste.

For this reason, we suggest not storing matcha in a clear or translucent container; or, if you must, place the clear container in a dark closet which you don’t open frequently. Or, simply store matcha in an opaque, airtight container such as the ones mentioned in this article, which you can keep in the fridge or on the kitchen counter.

If I Leave Matcha in the Cabinet for 10 Years, will it Taste Better?

Some people may tell you that “aged matcha” is even more flavorful than fresh matcha, and you may even see aged matcha on store shelves. You may be tempted to try aging your own matcha to see what happens. However, we advise against it.

Tea experts can create aged matcha in heat, light, and humidity-controlled environments. As we’ve explained, matcha is a fragile beverage, and aging such a finicky tea takes extreme oversight and care.

However, leaving matcha in your cabinet for several years will ruin its freshness and may even make you sick. Even with the best care, matcha has a shelf life of about 1 year, and most recommend consuming it within 60 days of opening.

AirScape: A Safe, Convenient Way to Store Matcha

AirScape containers are popular among coffee drinkers… and they should be popular with matcha drinkers, too. Why? Because coffee and tea share the same threats to their freshness: oxygen, heat, light, moisture, and strong odors.

Due to the AirScape container’s one-way air valve, it ensures that whatever you put in it has a completely air-free home. If you have a lot of matcha to store, or even just a little, it’ll be safe and free from oxidation in one of these containers.

Additionally, the container is opaque, which prevents light damage. This feature will also prevent strong kitchen odors from damaging your tea’s vibrant taste. While a bit pricier than a basic matcha jar, this container will ensure that your delicious matcha loses none of its flavor. See price and product description here.

Airscape Coffee and Food Storage Canister

What’s the Bottom Line?

Use an AirScape container, or at least an airtight, opaque matcha container. If you live in a hot place, store the matcha container in the fridge; however, be sure to let it come to room temperature before opening the container. Lastly, prepare matcha within two months of opening, and keep unopened containers for no longer than one year.