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Tea Snob

Is it possible that I’ve turned into a tea snob? I’ve never been a coffee drinker and occasionally drink wine. But when I discovered tea, something in me woke up to a new way of being. My teatime anchors my day. In the morning I don’t leave the house until I have made my cup of tea. My drive into the office is like a ritual when I have my tea with me.

My evening ritual consists of a pot of tea under tea light and I sip my evening sleep tea slowly as I wind down for the day. It’s as if I prepare for bedtime under tea light. I sit in bed, cup in hand and reflect with gratitude for the day. The experience that tea has introduced into my life is so special, truly my happy place.

When I travel, I always have a few tea pouches in my purse. But it doesn’t stop there, I have been referred to as Mary Poppins because I have been known to have tea press, strainers in my purse for my teatime. Is it inappropriate to ask for hot water at a restaurant to prepare my own tea? I only think it’s inappropriate if they don’t have a better tea selection on the menu than what I have in my purse.

Does that make me a tea snob?

Tea Preparation

Drinking nice teas are equivalent to drinking fine wines, once you do it, there’s no going back. But preparing a nice cup of tea is far more complex than pouring a glass of wine. With wine, it’s important to store it at the proper temperature. With tea, the same applies. It’s important to consider a few factors when preparing a cup of tea.

The water temperature and quality are important, and most teas can be prepared with a temperature between 185 to 212 degrees. Absolutely use of filtered water. Recently I was visiting a friend and did not have my electric water heater. I will admit that I was a little uncomfortable not knowing the temperature of the water. If you boil your water on the stove, keep in mind that the boiling point is usually 212 degrees.

The next factor to consider is how much of the tea is required. Some teas recommend a teaspoon where others recommend a tablespoon. If you are not sure, as a rule of thumb, I usually look at the size of the leaves. For example, my Sleep tea, an herbal blend with rose petals and chamomile, the petals are larger than the typical tea leaves, therefore a tablespoon would be appropriate.

How long should the tea steep is the final step to consider. Steep time is usually 3-5 minutes. With green tea, I pay close attention to steep time because I don’t want the tea to taste bitter if steeped too long. But for some of the other teas, I may allow it to steep under tea light for a while because it gets better with time.

My hope is that you will enjoy every cup of tea.

Mindfulness and Tea

  • Various health benefits of mindfully serving or drinking tea.
    • The Bliss Wisdom Buddhist Foundation did a study that showed statistically significant evidence that intent – enhanced tea improves mood and well-being. Questionnaires noted effects on vigor, fatigue, anger, tension, depression, self-esteem, and confusion. The conclusion has important implications for practitioners of any conscious, mindful tea service, including Chinese Gong Fu Cha and Japanese Chanoyu. Tea treated with good intentions improved mood more than ordinary tea derived from the same source. The belief that one was drinking treated tea produced a large improvement in mood, but only if one was actually drinking the treated tea, indicating that belief and intentional enhancement interact. This also suggests that the esthetic and intentional qualities associated with the traditional tea ceremony may have subtle influences that extend beyond the ritual itself.
    • When I prepare tea, I check in with myself first to see what I need. This may result in me selecting a fun dessert tea or a functional tea. At night I almost always have a herbal blend with chamomile to support restful sleep. On a monthly basis, I may do a detox tea to encourage clearing my system. I almost always have a tea light candle and teapot and enjoy several small warm cups at a time. I prefer to drink my tea slowly so the tea light helps to keep the tea warm. When I drink pu erh tea it’s full bodied like a merlot, so I enjoy savoring every sip. It feels like I am transported back centuries as I enjoy the aged fermented essence of the elixir.

Did you know

  • What is the relationship between tea, protein, and Alzheimer’s?
    • The author, Kenneth Cohen, suggests that green tea consumption might account for Japan’s low incidence of both dementia and Alzheimer’s compared to the West. Alzheimer’s progresses when amyloid protein clumps and bonds to brain cells, causing them to degenerate and die. EGCG extracted from tea, prevents this from happening.
  • What type of tea or tea extract is used in topical ointments?
    • Green Tea is traditionally the tea used in ointments. Topical creams or ointments with green tea or green tea extracts are useful for prevention of skin cancer and genital warts and in antibiotic ointments.
  • Reasons to believe that tea might have positive effects on addiction.
    • “After accounting for variables such as diet, alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking, researchers found that men and women who drank at least one cup of green tea per week for 6 months had 20 and 50% less risk of developing esophageal cancer.
  • Two ways that tea may prevent cancer.
    • One reason for green tea’s stronger effects on cancer may be its higher levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG inhibits urokinase, an enzyme that promotes tumor growth. Tea can prevent dietary and environmental carcinogens from damaging DNA – which can cause cancer – including mitigating the effects of tobacco smoke and carcinogenic chemicals that form while cooking meat.
  • The British love to drink tea with milk. Since they are copious tea drinkers, why aren’t cardiovascular disease rates low in Great Britain?
    • Tea is an antioxidant, more powerful than vitamin C or E. Reactive oxygen (known as free radicals) rots and rusts our bodies, similar to the way oxygen turns an apple brown or rusts a piece of metal. Tea prevents this from happening, and research suggests that green tea is a more effective antioxidant than black tea. However, a 2007 study published in the European Heart Journal demonstrated that caseins, the proteins in milk, inhibit these effects and also block tea’s cardiovascular benefits. The Brits love tea with milk which may inhibit the full benefit of their high tea consumption.
  • Some conditions for which tea may be contraindicated.
    • People may need to exercise extra caution around stimulants – such as pregnant women and those with certain kinds of heart arrhythmia or anxiety disorders may need to avoid or reduce tea consumption. Tea may inhibit iron metabolism in children and make them more susceptible to anemia. It is possible to experience gastric irritation if one drinks too much tea, especially green tea first thing in the morning. And although some studies show that tea anti-oxidants prevent kidney stone formation (by inhibiting calcium oxalate formation), it may increase blood levels of this same chemical among patients prone to kidney stones or with a history of the disease. There are also various opinions about the advisability of drinking tea while on blood thinners or during chemotherapy or radiation for cancer.
  • Why is tea good to drink if your food has MSG?
    • GABA in tea neutralizes the glutamate that is in MSG. This will reduce the likelihood of the headaches, allergies, addiction, suppression of feelings of satiety.
  • How does tea prevent cholesterol from entering the bloodstream?
    • Tea chemicals can reduce blood coagulability, prevent platelet activation and clumping, increase clot-dissolving activity and decrease deposits of cholesterol in artery walls.
  • In what way might tea protect against one of the damaging effects of coffee?
    • Acidic foods and drinks (coffee) damage tooth enamel. Tea increases the resistance of tooth enamel to the damaging effects of acid.

Hair Tea

Photo of Woman with Great HairSome may not be familiar with hair tea, so I want to share my experience with you. Two years ago, I had a keratin treatment done on my hair to straighten it and within a week, my hair started falling out. Each time I touched my hair it came out in massive clumps. I was mortified and did not know what to do. I consulted with acupuncturists and had no luck. I had my hair cut to stop the massive shedding, but it was too late, by that point I had huge patches of baldness and did not know what to do. I decided to wear my hair in a weave so I would not have to deal with it.

During this time my mother traveled to Panama and saw that the girls there had beautifully healthy hair. When she asked what they were doing, they said hair tea. She brought me the ingredients and made the tea for my hair. I kept a bottle in the shower and on a weekly basis I would pour some on my scalp. When I would work out and my scalp felt itchy, I would pour the hair tea to calm the itch. Anyone wearing braids or a weave knows first-hand how unbearable an itchy scalp can be. This rosemary tea saved me.

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