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Tea: A New Rise in Popularity

Tea is the second most popular drink in the world, second only to water. That is a pretty serious statement and one that can be a little hard to believe, especially in the United States where you can’t walk two feet without running into a coffee shop or a pop machine.


Tea is steeped (pun intended) in centuries of tradition in regards to ceremonies, health benefits and the abundant selection of flavors. Take that coffee, “Who’s Yo Daddy”.


Now in complete fairness coffee does have its own adhering qualities. There is the increased energy you get from the high levels of caffeine. Then there is pick-me-up you get from the caffeine in coffee. Then don’t forget what an eye opener your first cup of Joe gives you in the morning. So just about the only thing coffee has going for it is caffeine.


It’s pretty obvious that as a society we have fallen in love with caffeine, and this is the main reason people drink coffee. Americans in particular would probably run caffeine intravenously if we could. I admit we are a bit of a high strung country, and I say that lovingly.


But what other solid qualities does Java have? In comparison to tea the offerings are pretty slim. According to the medical community “moderate regular coffee drinking in healthy individuals is either essentially benign or mildly beneficial”.


Tea offers several benefits to your health, mind and soul, here are just a few of the great qualities you will find in every cup of tea:


A pick-me-up

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a lot of times we need a boost to get the gears going again, especially in the morning. This is one of the main reasons that coffee is so popular in our society, it does infact give you that shot of energy you need to start the day.


However, a new study, that was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that, while providing several health benefits, tea can also help improve memory and cognition in men.


Researchers took 12 healthy men and divided them into two groups. One group was given a drink that contained a green tea extract and the second test group was given a placebo drink that didn't contain the extract.


After drinking the concoctions each subject was hooked up to an MRI machine and scientists studied the effects of the two drinks on the men’s brains while performing a memory test.


Yes, all of the men kept having thoughts of bacon, however, the scientists just put that down and a normal male thought. What was interesting was how the green tea drinkers experienced an increase in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with working memory. We use this area of the brain for problem solving and focus.


Green tea is full of polyphenols, which widen blood vessels, speeding up the supply of blood to the brain, like EGCG, a strong anti-cancer chemical. Researchers have found that these health giving chemicals may be behind tea’s benefits.


Health benefits


Tea offers several health benefits including:


  • It helps burn fat by speeding up the metabolic rate.

  • It can help lower blood pressure by tackling an enzyme which triggers hypertension.

  • Tea also helps protect against diabetes, since it contains polyphenols which inhibit starch, and helps to lower blood sugar levels.

  • Tea can also prevent food poisoning since it can kill harmful bacteria.

  • Tea can prevent bad breath by killing oral bacteria that causes cavities and bad breath.

  • Green tea guards against hepatitis by decreasing iron levels throughout the body, including those in the liver, the cause of viral hepatitis.

  • Tea can protect against cancer since it contains a compound called epigallocatechin=3-gallate (EGCG), which helps inhibit blood vessel growth.

  • It can help prevent arthritis, working in much the same way as anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • A study has also found that 96% of people who drank ten cups of green tea a day showed no signs of the cognitive impairment linked to Alzheimer’s, compared to only 12% who didn’t drink tea at all.


Good for the soul

As the legendary eighth-century tea master Lu Yu, author of The Classic of Tea, claimed:


“Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness.”


Many modern-day tea aficionados agree. “In the midst of the rush of everything that can happen in a day, taking the time to drink a cup of tea is a delight for both the mind and the body,” says Aurélie Bessière, head of the US branch of the Parisian tea school Le Palais des Thés.


Tea is the perfect remedy that knows exactly what you need, when you need it. You can drink tea when you need a pick-me-up or when you need to relax and unwind.


We already mentioned how tea can rejuvenate and energize, but tea can also be relaxing and soothing, beneficial to your mind and your soul.


A calming tisane can be the perfect way to relax your mind and your body. For example, a blend of chamomile and lavender or rooibos with lemongrass will sooth you without making you sleepy.


With so many benefits, it’s no wonder tea has been a favorite for centuries to cure whatever ails you, and now it is again finding its spot in modern society.

The Secret of Peppermint Herbal Tea

As more Americans become interested in a more natural and holistic lifestyle, many are turning to herbal tea remedies instead of pharmaceutical options for treating minor ailments.  With its aromatic and health properties, as well as a pleasing flavor, peppermint is a popular and readily available herb.  One of the most common preparations is peppermint tea, although peppermint tea isn’t a true tea.  This herbaceous plant is completely separate from camellia sinensis, the plant that produces all varieties of true tea.  The more accurate name for peppermint tea would be peppermint infusion, or peppermint tisane. 

A peppermint infusion is made by steeping the dried leaves of the peppermint plant in boiling water.  The essential oils in peppermint leaves provide a wealth of health benefits; for the strongest concentration of these oils in your peppermint infusion, cover the cup while it steeps.  A cover traps more of the essential oils in the cup, creating a healthier and tastier infusion.  These essential oils are packed with compounds that have a relaxing effect on the digestive system; the peppermint tisane is effective in, and perhaps best known for, its ability to calm an upset stomach.  Regular consumption of peppermint tisane has been shown to reduce the symptoms of certain chronic digestive conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome.  The analgesic properties of peppermint aid the associated discomfort, while the relaxing effect is calming and soothing.  Peppermint also has some anesthetic properties that may be effective against a number of other conditions and disorders.

Menthol, a main component of peppermint, is a powerful compound with multiple benefits.  Its strong and refreshing aroma has an invigorating and energizing effect; it can help to increase mental alertness and fight fatigue.  The physiological impact of menthol can bring welcome relief from the symptoms of allergies and the common cold.  The menthol in peppermint thins mucus; the steam from a hot peppermint tisane can be inhaled to clear the nasal passages, and ingested to break up congestion in the throat.  It also acts as an expectorant, and can soothe the pain of a sore throat.  In fact, frequent consumption of peppermint infusions may be more effective at easing the suffering of a cold or allergies than pharmaceutical remedies.  It’s also safer, gentler, and presents with far fewer side effects.

A peppermint tisane is also a great source of antioxidants, which can keep you healthy.  It’s hot and comforting in cold weather, and can be served over ice for a refreshing summer drink.  If the flavor and aroma of a pure peppermint infusion is too strong for you, there are plenty of options out there.  Peppermint is nicely complemented by a variety of other herbal flavors; berries, vanilla, cacao, and earthy herbs like jasmine taste great when blended with peppermint.  It’s easy to find a blend from the many brands on the market, or to create your own favorite combination with loose dried herbals.  Treat yourself to great flavor, energizing aroma, and countless health benefits with a refreshing and invigorating peppermint tisane.

Embrace Fall With Autumn Tea

The days are growing shorter and the nights are becoming cooler, and summer is coming to an end once again. Fortunately, autumn tea will help you usher in the next season with joy. It will have you embracing the cooler weather to come and have you pining for the golds, oranges and reds of the autumn season. Autumn Tea is the perfect drink to usher in the cooler weather. It’s easy to make and even easier to enjoy!

Harvest your ingredients:

-5 cups apple juice, unsweetened

-5 cups boiling water

-5 teaspoons loose leaf tea

-2 cups cranberry juice

-1/3 cup sugar or honey

-5 tbsp lemon juice

-1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Start by placing the tea into your filter or strainer, then place that filter into a pitcher (make sure this pitcher is heatproof). Add the hot water and allow the tea to steep for approximately 5 minutes. Then, remove the tea leaves and/or strainer.

Add your apple juice, cranberry juice, sugar (or honey), lemon juice, and the pumpkin pie spice. Stir until the sugar or honey is fully dissolved. The Autumn tea is ready to be served and enjoyed!

This recipe should make about 3 quarts, which serves about 12 people. However, after you have a sip of this drink – 3 quarts might not seem like enough! The notes of spicy chai will warm you inside and out and delight your senses with a warm aroma and flavor. The mixture of the tea with the cranberry, pumpkin pie spice and lemon will make you feel sunny and happy even as the temperatures begin to drop.  Just cuddle up with your mug of Autumn tea and some friends and relax.

Our recipe uses a spicy chai black tea blend but you can use any black tea like a darjeeling with its aromatic and mild flavor which would blend well with the rest of the ingredient. Don’t get confused by the chai tea we used. Chai tea usually refers to masala chai which literally means mixed spice tea. In the tea our recipe uses, those mixed spices include aniseed, cinnamon, ginger and other special spices.

Or, you can use a fruit or herbal tea if you so desire! A berry blend or apple tea blend would be a welcome addition and make for a sweeter and fruitier beverage.

Do not fear or dread the oncoming change of seasons! Instead, embrace the short days and long nights and face them head on with a steaming cup of Autumn tea in your hand!

What Is The Best Way To Steep My Tea?

Experienced loose leaf tea drinkers know that the right brewing process is critical to making the perfect cup of tea. Steeping tea for too long can make it too bitter, while not steeping it for long enough can lead to a thin and watery taste.

Just how long should you steep tea in order to make the perfect cup? What kinds of water should you use? Steeping methods vary around the world, but there are some general rules to follow.

Before steeping

First, make sure you start steeping process of your loose tea with fresh cold water. Cold water has more oxygen in it, and oxygen helps draw out the flavor of tea. To preserve as much oxygen as possible, make sure you pour the water as soon as it starts to boil. Letting the water boil for too long will allow oxygen to escape.

Contrary to what many believe, you don’t have to boil water in order to make a perfect cup of tea. In fact, only black tea should be brewed with boiling water. If you’re brewing oolong tea, try to pour the water just before it reaches its boiling point. For green tea, pour the water when it reaches approximately 180F. At cooler temperatures, green tea tends to release more flavor and less bitterness.

Many tea experts recommend using filtered water to brew tea. Those who live in big cities often have chemicals in the water that can destroy the delicate flavors within complex tea blends. If you want your tea flavor to be as pure as possible, then it’s best to use filtered water.

During steeping

After pouring the heated water into the kettle, timing becomes very important. Different types of tea are steeped for different amounts of time.

Black tea: Steep for approximately 4 to 5 minutes

Oolong tea: Steep for about 2 to 3 minutes or 4 to 5 minutes, depending on stage of oxidation.

Green tea: Steep for about 2 to 3 minutes.

If you want your tea to be stronger, let it steep for closer to the maximum range using more tea leaves. Leaving it beyond that range will cause it to be overly bitter and not as tasty.

Many people believe that steeping their tea for longer will make it have a richer flavor. This is not always true. The best way to extract more flavor from your tea is to add more tea. In general, one heaping spoonful of tea per 6oz tea cup is enough. Add more if you want more flavor.

Other methods

The method we’ve listed above is the traditional method of brewing tea. However, it’s not the only method. Some people brew tea using a special Chinese ‘Gonfu’ method, while others used a Guywan system. Some of these methods require special equipment and unique blends of tea leaves. They lead to slightly unique tea flavors that complement different blends of tea.

Ultimately, you need to choose the tea steeping method that works for you. Some people like their tea flavored using a certain method, while others can’t tell the difference. Test out a few different methods to see which one you prefer most.

What is Matcha tea? And how can it benefit my health?

You may have heard of ‘matcha’ tea. In fact, matcha comes in a variety of products. There’s matcha ice cream, matcha cupcakes, and matcha noodles. Matcha is found all over the grocery store, and many people have no idea what it is.

Basically, matcha is finely powdered green tea. Normally, green tea consists of a blend of fresh tea leaves. As opposed to other types of tea, which have been left to ferment, dry, and curl up, green tea is usually left unfermented. When green tea is ground into a fine powder, it retains its natural green coloring, giving it a unique appearance and natural food dyeing properties. Matcha has also been linked to a range of health benefits.

Creating matcha

The Japanese word for matcha means ‘fine powder tea’, and that is exactly what matcha is. Matcha is made from tea bushes that are ‘shaded’. 20 days before being harvested, tea plants are covered in order to prevent exposure to sunlight. This stunts growth of the tea and causes the shades to turn a deep, leafy shade of green. In terms of health benefits, shading the tea also stimulates the production of amino acids. Interestingly enough, these amino acids also contribute flavor to the matcha.

After being harvested, the leaves are laid out flat in order to dry. This causes parts of the leaf to crumble. The veins and stems of the leaves are then removed. Finally, the remainder of the leaf is ground into matcha powder.

In the past, creating matcha was a very labor-intensive process. If the tea producer made an error while grinding the tea, it could become ‘burnt’, in which case the matcha was declared to be of an inferior level of quality. Today, most matcha production is performed by machines. 

Uses for matcha

Today, matcha is used in a variety of food products. It plays a particularly important role in Japanese tea culture. It’s also used to make all of the following food products:

-Matcha chocolates

-Matcha tempura

-Green tea ice cream

-Matcha cookies

-Matcha milk

-Matcha rice

Matcha is even used in Green Tea Lattes from Starbucks, which shows that it’s popular in both Japan and other parts of the world.

Health benefits of matcha

Most people know green tea is a healthy beverage. Like green tea, matcha has been linked to a number of different health benefits. However, since matcha tea is ingested (as opposed to regular green tea just being steeped in green tea leaves), its health benefits are often magnified.

Here are a few of matcha’s most popular health benefits:

-Increases antioxidant EGCG

-Boosts metabolism

-Lowers cholesterol

-High in antioxidants

-Mental health benefits.

Because of these health benefits, you can find matcha tea in health products like cereals and energy bars.