Japanese Tea vs Indian Tea – 10 Battles You Don’t Want to Miss – Part 2

In conclusion of yesterday’s post

4 Aesthetics: Japanese Tea uses more machinery

Most Japanese tea cultivation and processing is done by machines whereas most Indian tea cultivation is still done manually without machinery. Though there are a few farmers in Japan who hand-pick tea to ensure the best quality, most of the tea you see in grocery stores is those mass produced using machines.

5 Flavor: Indian Tea is Packed with Flavor

India produces some of the most flavorful teas in the world. The distinct spices of Chai tea–along with milk that is sometimes added–lends to its soothing and warm flavor. The taste of Chai is so pleasant it has become a popular drink in many countries outside of India.

The savory butter tea, or gur gur, is made from tea leaves, butter, water, and salt. It is so delicious that Himalayan nomads drink almost forty cups a day.

Another Indian tea well known for its flavor and popular all over the world is Darjeeling tea. It has hints of a fruity smell and flavor that requires no additional ingredients to enjoy.

6 Cost: The Surprising Price Differences Between Japanese and Indian Teas

According to a statistical report by Statista, in 2016 the average cost for one hundred grams of green tea in Japan was four hundred and ninety-one yen ($4.35 USD). Statista also reported that in 2015 the average cost for one thousand grams of tea in India was two hundred and two Indian rupees ($2.95 USD).

As you can see, the cost of tea in India is significantly lower than it is in Japan. This is due partly to the size of the country and India’s ability to produce larger quantities of tea.

7 Impurities: Japanese Tea is Some of the Purest Tea in the World

A 2014 Greenpeace India study revealed that the presence of pesticides was found in leading brands of tea sold in India. These pesticides result in acute and chronic toxicity. In contrast, the chance of fewer pesticides in Japanese tea is related to their tea growing practices.

Black tea from India is also known to contain traces of lead, a toxin that can affect all organs in the human body. According to the Journal of Toxicology, to avoid lead exposure, the safest tea to drink is organic green tea from Japan.

8 Popularity: The Popularity of Indian Tea Reaches Beyond the Borders of India

Without question, teas that originated in India have gained popularity around the globe. Chai and Darjeeling teas are flavorful and aromatic teas common in many tea and coffee shops. The tea most popular in Japan and perhaps the one Japan is most renown for–green tea–didn’t have its origins in Japan but rather originated in China.

9 Weight loss: The Effectiveness of Japanese Tea for Weight Loss

Japanese green tea is known for its ability to help in weight loss. Catechins are flavonoids present in green tea that boost the metabolism, helping your body break down fat more quickly. Potent types of catechins are called EGCG. Caffeine, another component of non-herbal teas, causes the body to burn calories by increasing energy levels. EGCG and caffeine work in unison.

The Japanese drink green tea frequently, starting with their first meal and throughout the day. The regular consumption of this fat-fighting tea could be one of the reasons Japan doesn’t have an issue with obesity.

10 Aesthetics: The Timeless Beauty of Japanese Tea

Aesthetics is a formally established discipline in Japan that extends beyond the art of the tea ceremony. Outside of this elaborate ritual, the Japanese take pleasure in ornate teapots, cups, and saucers, as well as blossoming herbal teas where a dried flower unfolds after it’s placed into a clear pot or cup. The sight can be as meditative as it is beautiful.

There are no losers when it comes to Japanese Tea and Indian Tea. Both cultures have produced teas that are and will be enjoyed throughout the world for many years to come.

Both teas matched up when it came to health-related properties, and shared other similarities. Yes, they did differ in taste, pricing, impurities, and culture; but overall it comes down to what you like.

Which one is your cup of tea today?

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Japanese Tea vs Indian Tea – 10 Battles You Don’t Want to Miss – Part 1

India and Japan both have a love of tea that spans many centuries. The plant, Camellia Sinensis, is popular in both India and Japan and is used to produce most of the tea such as black, green, and white tea. However, there are many kinds of herbal teas that are also consumed in both cultures. This love of various teas is woven into the fabric of the history and culture of India and Japan.

Even though I am Japanese, I personally love India and Indian tea. I had a great opportunity to live in India (Chandigarh) for close to a year altogether, and from the experience, I was introduced to all different kinds of tea in India.  

Though I love Indian tea, I had a hard time finding Japanese tea in India.  That is where I started importing Japanese tea to India. (You can find Japanese tea in India from our site now.)

This article is through my experience and research for love of both Indian and Japanese tea comparing teas from both countries I love.

We will take a look at the many factors that show why tea is such a popular drink in these countries and how well Japanese tea and Indian tea will fare in a battle against each other.

1 History: India’s Tea History is Ancient

Tea became known in Japan around the 9th Century. Tea seeds were brought from China and the planting of them was greatly encouraged. (Read my other article 30 Surprising History About Japanese Green Tea You (Probably) Didn’t Know)

For Indian tea, the first record of tea consumption in India was between 750-500 BCE, in the ancient Indian epic poem, the Ramayana. It’s possible that tea consumption started much earlier than this, however, after the mention of tea in the Ramayana, there are no further records of tea consumption until the first century.

In the sixteenth century, Dutch travelers recorded Indian use of the Assam tea plant as both a food and to brew tea. Later, the arrival of the British East India Company brought large-scale production of tea in Assam, India. By the start of the twentieth century, the top tea producer in the world was Assam.

Indian tea consumption predates that of Japan.

2 Culture: The Japanese Tea Ceremony is an Exercise in Meditation

The Japanese tea ceremony, called the Way of the Tea, is one of the most elegant and beautiful cultural rituals in the world. The ceremony is a series of choreographed movements that are more about focus and intent than drinking tea. It is said that the one preparing the tea must do so from the heart.

This tea ceremony was first recorded to have begun in the sixteenth century. The teachings of Zen Buddhism saturate this practice which can be seen in the four principles that are central to its spiritual aspects. These principles are harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. (Read my other article – 30 surprising history about Japanese tea you (probably) didn’t know for more about Japanese Tea Ceremony.)

3 Types: Japan Tea Comes in Many Varieties

There are well over twenty different types of tea in Japan. With the history of tea in Japan spanning over a thousand years, this isn’t surprising. The Japanese have mastered the art of tea cultivation. Let’s take a look at just a few of the types of tea popular in Japan.

Tea plants grown under shade are used to make this tea. This process allows for the tea leaves to produce more chlorophyll. The additional chlorophyll gives the tea an intense green color. Matcha is the tea commonly used in tea ceremonies.

Sencha is green tea made from tea plants grown in the sun. It is consumed hot or with ice and is the most popular tea in Japan.

Aracha translates to “Wild Tea” in English. Aracha is green tea where the process of green tea keeps the original shape as it is cropped. Most green tea consumed are refined and processed green tea. In Japan, green tea is usually sold from the farmer to wholesaler where the wholesalers process and refine the tea. When green tea is provided to the wholesaler, the form of the green tea is usually Aracha since it has not been processed yet. This type of green tea is usually not distributed to consumers. However, due to being able to enjoy rich and natural taste and flavor, some fans prefer drinking this type.

(Here are some more types of Japanese green tea that are popular and available.)

How about Indian tea types?   Just like Japanese tea, Indian tea is full of health benefit.  Here are a couple of examples of Indian tea types known for their health benefits.

-Assam tea
Assam tea is a black tea that is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants can help prevent certain types of cancer. In addition, Assam tea can improve cognitive function, increasing mental alertness.

-Nilgiri tea
Nilgiri tea is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. These two elements, respectively, help to maintain blood sugar and improve cardiovascular health.

-Chai tea
Chai tea is a combination of black tea and spices. Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, black pepper, and clove are blended with black tea to produce a drink potent with health benefits. It can help reduce nausea, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation. It is also high in antioxidants so can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular issues.

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To be concluded tomorrow

Blast From the Past: The ritual of tea

My favorite way to spend a Sunday morning is to brew a big pot of tea and relax while planning my day.  Sometimes I putter around the house, straightening things up or doing laundry, but more often it is my tea, a book, and me – and some nice swing / standards music in the background (think Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, or Peggy Lee).  The tea is an integral part of my routine.  I can’t imagine http://www.flickr.com/photos/chinogypsie/1466797471/getting up and getting going without it.  When I have brunch plans on Sunday mornings, I always enjoy seeing my friends, but there is usually a small moment when I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to drink my tea and ease into the day.

The type of tea is important, too.  On Sundays, I normally steep a flavored black tea blend.  Yes, that may make some of you consider me a philistine, but I enjoy it.  It’s kind of like eating healthy all week and on Sunday having an indulgent cinnamon bun or an old-fashioned fry-up.  During the week, and even on Saturdays, I drink oolong, or a nice Darjeeling, or my favorite Natela’s Gold black tea from Georgia.  I even throw in a green tea here and there (although I should really do this more often to reap more health benefits).  But Sundays are reserved for my flavored black teas.

One of my recent discoveries is to make a vanilla chai black tea.  I blend the following:

  1. 2 parts plain black tea, usually an Assam or a Ceylon – something with a bit of body
  2. 1 part chai tea blend
  3. 1 part vanilla black tea

This might sound horrid, but I love it!  I’ve tried chai made the traditional way, but I’m not a big milk drinker, so I don’t drink that very often.  However, I love the spices used in chai tea blends, so I like to incorporate them into my own personal blends.  I drink it straight – no milk, no sweetener.  The bite of the chai is tempered by the smoothness of the vanilla, so it makes it a great way to ease into a day.

There are many different tea rituals, from the gong fu tea ceremony, to the Malaysian “pulled” tea, to the very proper British high tea.  Everyone knows about these, but I’m curious to know what your own tea rituals are.  Do you drink tea from a certain cup, prepared a particular way?  Do you have someone with whom you share a love of tea, and make things “just so” when you get together over a cup?  Do you have a special tea shop you stop by often to get your daily fix (if so, you’re very lucky!)?  What is it about drinking that particular tea in that exact way that comforts you, or calms you, or gives you a sense of peace?

I often wonder whether it’s the ritual or the tea itself that has such a calming effect.  We know that some of the benefits of tea include various antioxidants that can lower blood pressure and create other relaxing effects, but I think that a great part of drinking tea is the calm that you feel when preparing the tea.  It forces you to slow down and take a few minutes out from your normal life.

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Written by Nancy Murphy, originally posted in August 2011

Ochazuke – T Ching

Three of the recurring characters in the Japanese drama Midnight Diner, also known as ShinYa ShoKuDou, are nicknamed Ochazuke Sisters – friends who are perpetually single and maudlin, and always order different flavors of ochazuke at the diner. Their banal life stories are abridged in the first season’s third episode, broadcasted in 2009.

To concoct an authentic bowl of ochazuke (お茶漬け), simply pour tea over rice. It is not so easy if one doesn’t know how to cook rice, is it? Toppings are optional. One of the Ochazuke Sisters orders plum every time while the other two prefer salmon and cod roe. A few months ago I stepped inside an izakaya whose menu specifies no topping choice for ochazuke. I should have questioned this establishment’s “legitimacy” and perhaps step away after recalling that the space, unusually vast for izakayas, was previously occupied by an all-you-can-eat buffet chain. Not only a teapot but also a teacup accompanied the bowl of rice. I regretted taking a sip as it was salty soup stock–that is, dashi–not tea! Dashi is a popular alternative to tea. Why present the teacup when the teapot’s content is not meant to be drunk alone?

A China television project erred in a similar manner and much grander scale with its re-make of Midnight Diner. Instead of titivating and flavoring their production with Chinese culture and tradition, the creators set up a center bar and served dishes such as instant noodles. “Laughingstock,” the top review reads.

So many Japanese dramas, including Midnight Diner, drew inspiration from manga – Japanese comic books of which I am not a fan. On the other hand, I like to think that a few of the manga writers deserve the Nobel Prize more than the rumored shortlisted Haruki Murakami whose literary success is inscrutable to me.

In the original production, Midnight Diner’s proprietor smokes inside the tiny kitchen! He put down the cigarette and without washing his hands proceeds to prepare whatever dishes his customers request. None of his patrons has ever voiced disapproval… In health-conscious states like California, it is not uncommon to see non-smokers walking swiftly by smokers; some even cough, unintentionally due to foul odor, maybe intentionally to disclose their contempt.

Tea Rainbow?

Life on the 45th parallel has its advantages.  Summer days are almost sixteen hours. Every berry – black, blue, rasp- and straw- grow here as well as cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, and pears.  TChing contributor Robert Weminschner could make a different scrumptious dessert every day for fifty-three days! So, it was with Robert’s sense of adventure – and my handy flask of fresh-brewed Doke Black Fusion – that I headed into the raspberry patch a few weeks ago.  

I was the first customer, and the only person allowed to pick raspberries.  The weather was clear and hot, with Mt. Hood (in photo above) forming a breathtaking backdrop to the south. “I see you brought your tea,” the owner said as she pointed me to the row.

“Never leave home without it,” I walked from the fruit stand through the orchard.  Beautiful and serenely alone in my own raspberry universe. Seventy-five yards of raspberry vines, seven feet tall and seven feet thick.  Berries hung heavy and fragrant on the vines. Jam, Pie. Syrup. Tarts. Scones. Jam cookies. Filling. Custard. Shortbread. I planned menus and re-runs in my head of Robert’s recipes and luscious tea syrups. I listened to the peaceful country sounds of proud chickens, a cow calling a calf, dogs barking.  There was a screeching sound of some bird I couldn’t place some distance away but mostly relaxing, farm sounds. Soon, I had twelve pints of beautiful berries; time to take a break.

I found a grassy spot at the end of the row and pulled out my tea and PBJ.  I half- crouched, noticing thistles and nettles and stickseeds, tiny morning glories and even tinier dainty pinks.  Content, all was right with the world. I opened my flask of tea and took the first sip followed by a grateful gulp.

There is no phonetic rendition that can describe the shriek that erupted from directly behind me.  Like I had been shot from a spring, I catapulted into the air, my tea exploding from my cup like a fountain.  I swear I saw a rainbow in the arc. Then I came down right into a particularly thick collection of nettles, thistles, a rogue blackberry bramble, stickseeds and face to face with this incredibly beautiful blooming hen-and-chicks (photo above). I gasped out some words that grown women should not say as an enormous – from my vantage point of face-on-the-green – peacock strutted regally by, giving his tail feathers an indignant shake.

Stickseeds – tiny balls that stick to your hair, socks, shirt, jeans, and hat like velcro – covered me from head to toe.  I was grateful that the raspberries were out of the path of destruction, but I told that peacock he owed me a cup of tea. He gave me stinkeye as only a bird can.  I picked stickseeds out of my clothing for a good five minutes before I picked up the flask. Lucky Day, a good mouthful was left!

Next time, I will pack a spare flask in the car.  You never know.

Images provided and copyright held by author

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Tea Sets and Appreciation

A few days ago, my husband and I were in the kitchen in order to discuss what we wanted to do about dinner. While we were talking about it, I wandered into the dining room. We don’t typically use it, as we don’t presently have a table, but we do have a few things on a shelf against the window. One of which being my tetsu kyusu tea set. I wandered over and admired my tea set, until suddenly I noticed that there were curious white spots on it. I picked up a cup, and found that there were indeed a small number of tiny, white specks scattered on the inside. I found my gaze darting all over the set with mounting horror, until I carried the cup to my husband and asked him, “Is this… paint? From when you were doing the walls a few weeks ago?”

He replied in the affirmative, and I felt increasing levels of horror and pain wash over me. I wondered how they (my husband and mother-in-law who assisted him) could have so callously and carelessly destroyed something that they must know I care about, and either not even notice or not think to tell me. I ran a fingernail over a speck of paint in despair, and then realized that the speck came off when I did so. I checked the cup, and it was unmarred where the spot had been removed. Despite my resentment, I felt a spark of hope bloom that I might still be able to keep them.

One at a time, I picked up each piece of the set. Each cup, each saucer. The teapot, the chafing dish, the trivet. I went over every one with great focus, gently scraping off each speck of paint I found. As I did so, I reflected on my emotional response to what had happened. I reminded myself that they hadn’t known it had occurred, it was genuinely an accident. Then I considered why I cared so much about the set to begin with. It had been a gift from my ex-fiance. There was nothing special about who it came from. But when I reflected on when I got it, I realized it wasn’t that simple. My ex-fiance and I had been out with my mom, and we went to a shop that sold them. When I was admiring them, my then-boyfriend told me that I should pick one out, and it could be my birthday present. It wasn’t something he chose with care. It was something that I chose, and he was relieved he didn’t have to put forth any effort. It was important to me because it was mine and I had chosen it, not because of who it came from or why or how much it cost.

As I cleaned the paint off, I was also doing something else to them: I was wiping the dust off. They all had it. If this set was so precious to me that I would be upset at the thought of it being marred, why did I then leave it sitting and never think to clean it? It makes sense that I don’t use it all the time: It holds significantly more tea than I typically need in a day, and it’s more effort to use a pot and small cups than to make a mug at a time. But that doesn’t mean that it deserves to gather dust. If I care so much, why do I not take better care of it?

And that’s the most important thing, I realized. It’s not that it got tiny paint spatters on it. It’s that it had that paint on it for a few weeks and I never even noticed. I was feeling guilty, and trying to blame other people. I forgave them, and then I forgave myself. And from now on, I will make a point of trying to keep the dust off even if I am not using it. Because we should cherish and appreciate the people and things that we care about, and not take them for granted.

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It Ain’t Just For Stomach Distress – The Wonders of Chamomile Tea

I think we’re all familiar with the GI benefits of this wonderful herb, chamomile. This mild-tasting tisane is something that you might want to give another look at. I wouldn’t think of not having some in the house for those occasional stomach upsets. Although my mom kept Pepto Bismol in the medicine cabinet for such a purpose, chamomile tea is far superior in my opinion.

It is believed that the flavonoids in chamomile, which are a type of nutrient present in many plants, play a significant role in chamomile’s medicinal effects. The one I’ve been investigating which is present in chamomile is apigenin. This terrific phytonutrient seems to have a significant impact on anxiety and depression (source).

In a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety were given 220 mg a day of a chamomile extract for eight weeks. Using well-established universal measurements, such as the Beck Anxiety Inventory System and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating, the team found that a majority of the group (57 percent) experienced significant reduction of symptoms.

One very encouraging finding from the study – which was published in the well-respected journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine – was that chamomile’s therapeutic effects actually increased over time – although the dosage did not. (With some pharmaceutical drugs, tolerance develops – necessitating ever-increasing dosages to bring about the initial result. But, chamomile seems to display the opposite effect).

Scientists believe that a flavonoid called apigenin – which binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain – may be responsible for chamomile’s anxiety-reducing and antidepressant effects.

Having been a psychologist for over 25 years, I can tell you that there isn’t a safe pharmaceutical drug on the market that effectively improves symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety in 57% of the people taking it- and that’s without side effects or increased tolerance mind you. With chamomile tea, the improvements seem to increase over time. I think that’s absolutely amazing.

This ancient herb has been used by healers for centuries. We might tend to disregard folklore and the medicinal herbs they employ but I’m coming to understand that these herbal remedies have withstood the test of time. Many are taken in the form of teas, or more appropriately called tisanes. Although they didn’t come with double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, they’ve been passed down through the generations and are finally being proven with stringent scientific testing. I get some real satisfaction knowing that Mother Nature has created countless herbs that are available to fight a huge variety of ills that continue to plague people around the world. Always check to see if there are any contraindications. I found an interesting study about infant colic and the effectiveness of chamomile tea to sooth this form of GI distress although another article noted potential concerns about giving chamomile tea to infants and very young children due to possible contamination with botulism spores. This is a similar concern found in raw honey. When in doubt, check with your alternative health care provider. Unfortunately, traditionally trained medical doctors receive no education about herbs and extremely little about nutrition in general.

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Blast From the Past: TEAsicles!


Cold-infused tea is a splendid way to beat the summer heat. Take cold infusion one step further with refreshing TEAsicles. You are only limited by your imagination. Be creative! Tempt your senses with chai creamsicles, lemon green tea popsicles, creamy avocado tea popsicles, sweet peach tea popsicles, matcha, and many others. My personal favorite: strawberries puréed in a blender, add prepared oolong cold infusion, blend the two together, and then pour into popsicle molds. Add popsicle sticks, pop them into the freezer for few hours, and voilà!

Cold infusion:

1) A tall glass vessel.

2) 2-3 tablespoons of whole leaf tea.

3) Add water (I use filtered water from my Brita).

4) Place in your refrigerator for 4-10 hours. The longer you leave it to brew, the stronger the flavor and caffeine will be. White Teas will infuse faster, closely followed by green teas and oolongs. More time is needed for rolled oolongs, pu-erhs, herbal, and black teas.

5) After 4 – 10 hours, strain your infusion and serve with ice or create TEAcicles!

Cold Fusion TEAsicles:

1) Pour infusion into popsicle molds.

2) Add in raspberries, blueberries, peaches, edible flowers, or whatever tickles your fancy. Pour less tea into each mold if fruits are added.

3) Place popsicle molds in the freezer for 2-3 hours.

4) Enjoy.

Examples of additions to your TEAsicles:

Citrus zest, peel or slices

Fresh berries

Lavender, mint, and other savory herbs

Edible flowers

Honey, maple syrup, no synthetics

A splash of fresh fruit juice or nectar

Make your summer tea experience cool, refreshing, and TEAlicous! 

NOTE: I tried two different teas: Tie Kwan Yin (Oolong) and Coffee Pu’erh from DavidsTea.
Coffee Pu’erh: Pu’erh leaves, coffee beans, almond and vanilla flavoring which gave the TEAsicle tealicious kick!
Tie Kwan Yin oolong is fresh grassy and complimented the edible flowers, I chose pansy.

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Best Teas to Cleanse and Detox

Two very popular diet and tea terms are ‘Cleanse’ and ‘Detox’. But what are the differences between these two terms, and what–if anything–do these teas have to offer? Read on to find out!

Why do a cleanse or detox anyway?

The biggest reason a lot of people do a cleanse or detox is for weight loss, and this is where a lot of the industry focuses its marketing. There are additional reasons we’ll cover shortly, but the majority of these diets focus on weight loss as the ultimate benefit.

What is the difference between a Cleanse and Detox?

While these terms are used often interchangeably, they are drastically different. So depending on your goal, you may do one or the other, or both in different stages.

A cleanse is the process where you eliminate junk food and replace with fiber and nutrient-rich foods. These foods will not only make you feel better, but it will help all your organs, including the liver and kidneys to work more efficiently. A big focus is on releasing stagnation from the GI tract and helping with elimination. Eating properly, along with fiber will help you get rid of bloat and excess water and other “junk”.

Detox works differently. This process helps your body, and more importantly, your kidneys and liver get rid of accumulated toxins such as heavy metals. Food itself cannot detoxify your body, but eating the right type of foods can help your kidneys and liver do their job better. These diets tend to be much more restrictive than their cleanse counterparts. They are often paired with fasts.

How does one choose?

As mentioned before, a common reason for a cleanse is to lose weight. A detox is more of a shock approach and may be used in situations where you ate a lot of bad food or had too much to drink. Detox regimens are usually shorter term in duration. But the key is for you to understand your goals and choose the appropriate approach that will help you reach them. There are also many different diets, but how do you know which one works? A great tool is to use the annual ranking of diets by US News and World Report. One piece of advice: If you are using diet to overcome a medical condition, weight loss, or to reduce your reliance of prescription drugs make sure you coordinate with a doctor who has a nutrition background (most do not) and be willing to have your blood tested regularly to see the results. This is especially for diets that are more restrictive.

How do Cleanse and Detox teas work?

Since tea is considered a food, it is simply another ingredient that you can consume in conjunction with the cleanse or detox diet you are using. A detox tea would generally be a combination of herbs that simulate the kidney and liver and encourage urination. Some of the well-known herbs and spices used are fennel seed, coriander, milk thistle, and dandelion. 

A cleanse tea is usually focused towards releasing stagnation and helping your GI tract. Green tea, fennel seed, senna (a natural laxative), ginger and cinnamon are often found in cleanse formulas.

Regardless of the teas you use, remember they are a tool used in addition to your diet. Drinking tea alone will probably have little effect by itself.

Danger of tea?

One of the issues to be aware of is that some vendors have Senna as their main ingredient. No long-term solution should include diuretics and laxatives day after day. Senna is often used to clear out patients prior to surgery. However too much Senna can also lead to your body becoming addicted. So know the ingredients and make sure you know how much and how long you should drink the teas.

“Regular”  Tea

Besides teas specific to cleansing and detox, a good diet supplemented with pretty much any tea will be beneficial. Old school advice of eating a varied diet also applies to tea. Using green, oolong, black, and pu-erh tea will expose you to all the benefits and can be used in most cases indefinitely without side effects.

Buying Cleanse and Detox Teas

It’s not a bad idea to have a few of these teas handy just like aspirin in your medicine cabinet. We always recommend buying from a dedicated tea merchant who offers a good variety of tea. We do not recommend vendors who specialize in specific detox or cleanse teas, as they are usually not experts in tea but rather social media. Secondly, the prices from these specialty vendors are often much higher because of their much higher marketing overhead.

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Ten Tips For Brewing Better Tea – Part Two

Continued from yesterday’s post

  1.  try out Gongfu brewing, versus Western style

There are two main ways to brew tea; Western style uses roughly a teaspoon or 2 grams of tea per one cup of water, infused for around 4 minutes, often twice.  Gongfu style brewing uses a higher proportion of tea to water and a different type of device, most often either a gaiwan or clay pot instead of a ceramic teapot, tumbler, or gravity infuser.  Different teas work better using different proportions, timing, and water temperatures. One school of thought advocates using boiling point water for everything, adjusting for strength using shorter infusions.

For many people, clay pots make for an optimum solution for some tea types.  Any porous clay material allows for tea components to soak into the pot, and to re-release flavor back into later rounds of brewing, once a pot is appropriately “seasoned.”  It takes a lot of research to even get started on clay pot styles, ideal clay types (Yixing, a region also used to describe a range of local clay comes up), how to best limit use to one tea type (how narrow to go for range), and which pot style and clay types match with which tea versions.

gaiwans work really well but clay pots are handy and provide a different aesthetic experience

  1.  try varying infusion strength

People tend to have a preconception about what infusion strength is normal for different types of teas, often based on how that typical Western proportion and timing works out.  I wouldn’t go much stronger than that (longer, or just infused stronger), but lighter in strength can be nice to experiment with. Sheng pu’er works better brewed quite light compared to black teas, for example.  White teas work across a broad range, brewed strong to match the thickness and style of black teas, or brewed very light to be enjoyed as a more subtle version.

  1.  consider the water

Different mineral content in water can make or break a tea brewing experience.  This tends to be where dedicated (obsessed) enthusiasts separate from casual tea drinkers, but really anyone could try out using a bottled water instead of tap water.  One might think distilled water or reverse osmosis processed water–stripped of everything, minerals included–might be ideal, but the minerals play a role in the infusion process, and affect the final outcome positively (or negatively, if the balance or type doesn’t work well).  Researching the absolute best water for a specific type is nearly impossible but trying out minor variation at home is easy.

Per most input even using a Brita filter could make a positive difference.  One odd trick relates to placing bamboo wood charcoal into the water–not while you brew, in a pitcher of some sort before heating it–to either absorb the wrong types of minerals or trace elements or maybe to add some others.  I guess if it seems to work you really don’t need to know how it works.

  1.  consider the cup

It’s only psychological, I think, since you could drink tea out of a coffee mug, a fancy British tea cup, or a stainless steel camp cup (my typical water glass, at home) and it shouldn’t make that much difference.  But most tea enthusiasts claim it really does, and I sort of have to side with that, even though my range of use of teaware is non-existent compared to most. For people with no budget limits what to try out for teaware is an easy call; choose it all, and see what works.  For everyone else taking small steps in different directions can work; try out a few interesting variations from a thrift store, or splurge and try a beautiful bowl-shaped version that looks more like artwork than an everyday use cup.

Some teaware does have a cool look (photo credit)

  1.  try different teas

This isn’t advice about brewing, it’s about sourcing the tea and the type instead.  If you like Indian or Sri Lankan black teas (Assam, Darjeeling, or Ceylon) it’s still worthwhile trying Chinese blacks, to see how those vary.  Different oolongs can be approachable, not necessarily hard to brew (maybe just tricky to optimize in some cases), and many are good across a broad quality level range.  As your palate and preferences change, and as you try different types and better quality teas, factors that were less important earlier on can influence results more.

  1.  make it your own

Experiment, and break rules!  It works to vary infusion technique every time you make tea, or even infusion round to round.  Or go the other way, and make a science of it, and try to zero in on carefully controlled optimums through small adjustments.  That second approach would seem to tie together with researching other people’s informed opinions more but I guess that could work either way; someone might experiment from the ground up on their own, based on conventional approaches, or read up on lots of crazy ideas to try new things that are unconventional.

To me, the nice thing about tea is the range it covers.  It can be an inexpensive food-related interest, with lots of variation possible even at low cost, involving low effort and knowledge input.  Or the subject can be bottomless, involving ever deeper layers of exploration.

Uncredited image provided by and copyright held by the author