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Tea Trend of 2018: The Death of Direct Trade

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 13:00

In 2016 I forecasted that the major trend of the year would be “transparency” for the tea industry. This time in 2017 I was writing a series on Sustainability in the tea industry as I believed Sustainability was the major trend for the year. These trends gave way for the focus and development of direct trade in the industry as well as in the marketing of tea. By the end of 2017, the term “Direct Trade” can be seen on most newly launched tea business’ packaging and even established tea business’ marketing. The term “Direct Trade” originated in the specialty coffee industry. The term is not defined, unregulated, and has become too diluted not only in the coffee industry but also the tea industry.

According to Sustainability journal study titled “Problems with Firm-Led Voluntary Sustainability Schemes: The Case of Direct Trade Coffee,” it was found that between 2015-2016 Direct Trade became a dominate marketing term in the coffee industry. The foundations of the direct trade coffee movement brought high quality and ethics to coffee, but the co-opting of the term by mainstream brands that are loosely using the term to describe their business has diluted the value of the term and practice. For this reason leaders of the original direct trade coffee movement have started to turn away from using the term direct trade and focus more on the transparency of their products.

My company was one of the first to look to the specialty coffee industry for inspiration and describe the way we imported and sold tea as Direct Trade in 2013. Within a year I was seeing new tea businesses launching with the same marketing. By 2017 I was seeing the term used everywhere. At one tea festival, I noticed one wall of vendor booths all having Direct Trade printed in big letters across their booth backdrops. These were all large commodity tea retailers that have their products on grocery shelves across the country.

Direct Trade has become a major marketing term, yet it is still not defined. Obviously, there is value if even the largest commodity tea companies are using it to connect with consumers. For some tea business owners, direct trade means that they must purchase 100% of their tea from the farmer, traveling to visit the farms, arranging the payments, and coordinating the legal compliance of importing the product. Even this definition is unclear as there will always be some middleman in the supply chain to get the tea to their business. Small-scale tea imports require the high price help of FedEx or other carrier shipping and international money wires require the help of banks and services like Paypal. What is direct trade?
Direct trade is also difficult and inefficient. As described in a recent article on World Tea News the new trend for independent tea businesses to use the internet to connect with and buy tea directly from producers at the origin is challenging. There is a high cost to travel to do business with tea producers, logistics costs are high, and there is little accountability of quality control. As with what has happened in coffee, I believe in 2018 tea business owners will realize this struggle and dilution of the value of the term direct trade and focus on building their customer bases on providing quality tea and information versus chasing the Direct Trade Dream.

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50 True Facts about Green Tea and Health (Catechin, ECGC, Polyphenols and Tannin)

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:00
  1. The use of green tea as a medicine began thousands of years ago at first in China and then spreading throughout Asia.
  2. Like water, green tea has no calories.  Regular green tea has a water content of 99.9% and it can rehydrate the body.
  3. Green Tea is sugar-free, even though it has somewhat of a sweet taste.
  4. Green tea contains many nutrients including manganese, zinc, chromium, selenium and a multitude of vitamins.
  5. The tea contains substantial amounts of vitamin C and other vitamins and nutrients.
Catechin


  1. Japanese teas contain a bioflavonoid, known as Catechin which has antioxidant and antiviral properties.  The most traces of Catechin are found in tea leaves grown in full sunlight.
  2. Adding boiling water to green tea is bad for the healthy catechins in the tea. The water of the green tea should be 160 to 170 degrees.
  3. Tea leaves grown in full sunlight like sencha contain the most traces of Catechin.
  4. The Vitamin C in a lemon makes it easier for a person to absorb the catechins in green tea. Therefore, you should add lemon or lemon juice to the green tea.
  5. Dairy or milk makes it more difficult for a person to absorb the catechins of green tea.  Dairy products contain casein. Casein inhibits the absorption of catechin from tea, and blocks the healthy effects that catechin provides.  Non-dairy milks such as soy, almond, or coconut are naturally casein-free. These are the perfect additives and will not affect the body’s ability to absorb the healthy antioxidant, catechin.
  6. The antibacterial and antiviral catechins in green tea can be effective in treating influenza and cancer.  Antioxidants found in the tea help the body recover from a cold quickly.
  7. According to the study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the catechins commonly found in its leaves can penetrate into the eye tissue, protecting it from glaucoma and other eye diseases
  8. The catechin in matcha are proven to inhibit angiotensin. This means there is less contraction from blood vessels which leads to lower blood pressure. Lower blood pressure means a lower chance of stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, and a whole host of other health problems. Higher levels of catechin equals lower blood pressure with matcha than either common green or black teas.

    Read more about catechin.
EGCG

  1. The antioxidant catechin in matcha helps to slow down the aging process. Catechin prevents free radicals from destroying body cells. One specific catechin, EGCg, is known for its cancer-fighting properties. matcha contains over 100 times more EGCg than any other tea on the market. (www.naturallivingideas.com/10-amazing-benefits-of-matcha-green-tea/)
  2. A person’s metabolism is increased by drinking green tea.  Green tea boosts the metabolism and thus promotes weight loss.  Many weight loss supplements therefore contain green tea as an ingredient.  Some studies have found that EGCG in green tea may help a person to drop a few pounds.
  3. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking EGCG in green tea has been linked to a lower incidence of depressive symptoms.

    Read more about ECGC
Polyphenols

  1. The fact that green tea is processed differently than black tea is why the green tea has more health benefits.  Green tea is not fermented like black tea, and therefore it retains a greater amount of polyphenols and antioxidants which provide its health benefits.
  2. Green tea contains polyphenols that prevent the growth of tumors.  
  3. Scientists believe that the polyphenols in green tea are responsible for its health benefits. Polyphenols are strong antioxidants. They also make green tea taste a bit bitter. Black tea contains less polyphenols than green tea. (University of Maryland Medical Center, http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea)
  4. Brewed hot tea has more polyphenols than either iced tea or instant tea.
  5. The antioxidants in green tea also prevent the growth of abnormal cells.
  6. It was found in one study that the risk of developing prostate cancer was 48% lower in men who drank green tea.
  7. Researchers have found that people who drink green tea regularly reduce their risk of breast cancer by 22 percent, colorectal cancer by 57 percent, and prostate cancer by 48 percent.

    Read more about polyphenols
Tannins

  1. Green teas contain tannins that reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients like folic acid and iron. It is therefore best to drink green tea between meals rather than with them.  
  2. It is believed by some that green tea reduces the risk of esophageal cancer.
  3. Dr. Kristi Pado Funk of Pink Lotus Breast Center has claimed that drinking three cups of a green tea with the potency of a Matcha a day decreases breast cancer risk by half.
  4. Drinking a strong brew is recommended to treat stomach ailments.  Is extremely high in fiber, aiding in digestion.
  5. Matcha has 30 times more fiber than regular green tea. This makes sense because drinking matcha means you are consuming the entire leaf. Fiber is important because it helps you control your weight, reduces the risk for diabetes and diverticular diseases, and helps keep you regular.
  6. The fiber in matcha can help lower your cholesterol. matcha contains 314 mg of fiber because it is crushed tea leaves. Regular green tea has only 10 mg of fiber.
  7. Green tea can relax the muscles that support the bronchial tube benefiting those with asthma.
  8. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that consuming this tea boosts energy expenditure, allowing you to burn up to twenty-five percent more calories during your workout.
  9. Green tea intensifies fat oxidation levels as well as the rate a person’s body converts food into calories.
  10. Matcha increases thermogenesis (the body’s rate of burning calories) by up to 3 times faster. Drinking a cup of Matcha will increase your thermogenesis from 8-10% up to 34-35% of your daily energy expenditures.
  11. Green tea intensifies fat oxidation levels as well as the rate a person’s body converts food into calories.
  12. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found it can increase the body’s rate of burning calories from 8%-10% of daily energy expenditure to between 35% and 43%.
  13. According to Ochner, by substituting 1 to 2 cups of green tea for a can of non-diet soda every day for a year, you will save over 50,000 calories. Healthy cells have been found to be helped by green tea in all growth stages.
  14. Researchers have found that people who drink green tea at least ten times a week have healthier and stronger bones than people who do not.
  15. Green tea lowers the level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the body.
  16. Between green, black, and oolong, green tea contains the most antioxidants. Many scientists believe that antioxidants reduce signs of aging, reduce the risk of cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease because antioxidants block free-radicals.  Some researchers have found that both green tea and black tea can help reduce the risk of heart disease by controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Green tea has been found to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol.  The 2013 studies also discovered green tea helped to prevent congestive heart failure.
  17. Green tea also prevents clot formations which are the main cause of heart attacks.
  18. Scientists believe that green tea helps the lining of blood vessels to stay relaxed and to be better able to withstand blood pressure changes.
  19. Men who drink green tea usually have lower cholesterol than men who don’t drink green tea according to a population-based study. Another animal-based study found that green tea may block cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestines.  
  20. Not only does green tea reduce bad cholesterol in a person’s blood, it also makes the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol better.
  21. Green tea helps with the regulating of glucose levels and prevents the rising of a person’s sugar after eating.  Both fat storage and insulin spikes are prevented by green tea.
  22. In animal-based studies, green tea helped prevent type 1 diabetes. It also helped to regulate glucose levels in animals with type 1 diabetes. Scientists believe that drinking green tea could help manage type 2 diabetes as well.  Drinking green tea is believed to help a person with diabetes keep his or her blood sugar stable.
  23. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is part of the NIH, has been studying green tea. The NCCIH is currently studying green tea’s effects on the liver and the safety of giving green tea who are HIV-positive.
  24. Matcha is packed with more antioxidants than regular green tea. Just 1 gram of matcha contains 1,384 ORAC units (oxygen radical absorption capability). The higher the ORAC units, the more antioxidant effect it will have on your body. It takes 10 cups of common green tea to get the same antioxidants as one cup of matcha. (www.matchsource.com/health-benefits-of-matcha-tea)
  25. The USDA recommends 3,000- 5,000 ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), units per day.  ORAC experts at Tufts University discovered it possesses an amazing twenty times more ORAC than pomegranates or blueberries, both antioxidant-rich sources.

    Read more about Tannin

This article is a chapter of my published book Green Tea Mania: 250+ Green Tea Facts, Cooking and Brewing Tips & Trivia You (Probably) Didn’t Know. You can get the book from Amazon from here.   You can find more great articles related to green tea and health on my blog, Japanese Green Tea, and Health.

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Blast From the Past: Chi and Tea?

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 13:00

If you find yourself lagging and dragging right now – start sipping and start breathing; pour a cup of tea and then do some deep inhalations and exhalations.

Change is all around us.  Change comes from within us.  Change is us.

For most of us, the weather is changing during these winter months – and this does affect us.  As the days are shorter, darker, colder, and damper, our energy changes with them.  Some individuals are impacted by the changes more greatly than others.

Our energy level is tied into the energy force, the life force, the chi, or the prana of our universe.  We are not separate from it – we are part of it.  The breath of life exists in everything that is alive: plant, animal, person.  Although this life force is beyond us, it is also within us, and therefore can be controlled by us.  In yoga, we are taught to control the breath within us – that with this breath we can relieve stress and tension, breathe out old, stale, stagnating energy, and breathe in new revitalizing and uplifting energy.

Tea has long been associated with calm, tranquility, serenity, and spirituality.  Just the mere sound of these words evokes inner peace; reading these words, we remember; seeing these words, we relax.  Drinking the beverage known the world over – tea – and taking some quiet time with a cup of tea delivers a multitude of benefits to the body, mind, and spirit.  A body mired in physical and mental stress is a body with a blocked energy flow.  Chi that does not move, prana that does not flow, an energy force that is stuck serves no one and exhausts you.

Tea has both physical health benefits as well as healing emotional benefits – these are delivered in the time spent sipping in serenity and breathing in new vigor and vitality.  Just as we can do deep breathing exercises anywhere, we can choose to take tea with us anywhere, too.  In no time, you will be experiencing new energy levels and the doldrums will be vanquished.

VITALI-TEA

There is a vital force inside me
that is connected to something far greater.
It is an essential element that provides me
with unlimited strength.
This principle of life is God
and is truly all there is.
I am one with this Power,
this Force known as God.
I accept that this essential,
life-supporting phenomenon comes from
within me and works through me.
I am able to revitalize myself
as often as necessary.
I need only sip of this ancient elixir
to remember my own good.
I give thanks for the potency
of the divine potential
that exists in me and in all others.
Nothing real prevents this potent presence.
I release all that is perceived and allow for all that is possible.
For all is possible in God.
God is all that is possible in me.
So I let it be.
Amen

This article was originally posted in January 2010.

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Why Buying a Silver Needle White Tea is Always a Risky Task

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 13:00

Guest post by: William Bailey

If you ever tried Silver Needle white tea and didn’t understand why there is so much fuss about it, there might be a logical explanation. Maybe you have bought the wrong tea. Silver Needle is probably the most popular of all white teas, with only Bai Mu Dan or White Peony being able to compete with its popularity and availability. As this tea is found in almost all tea shops around the world, buying it might not always be the easiest task. 

Authentic or Non-Authentic?

To understand why, we must first look into the name and origin of Silver Needle white tea. Silver Needle is originally grown in Fujian, but nowadays there are dozens of other places producing Silver Needle – from Chinese Yunnan to Vietnam and Darjeeling, only to count a few. Tea grown in other regions has a very different price and flavor profile. It also undergoes a different processing method and can be made from a different tea variety.

Name Speculations

The low percentage of westerners speaking Chinese allowed many name speculations. Some state that Bai Hao is the special type of Chinese Silver Needle white tea, the one that is the most expensive of all, and includes only buds, while the regular Silver Needle can contain leaves as well. This gives the opportunity to set a higher price of all Silver Needle teas and offer tea with a very poor flavor.

Low Production

Another very often misinterpreted fact is the one on a very low production of Silver Needle. If Silver Needle is often described as rare and precious tea, why can it be found in so many tea shops? Especially if the production takes up only less than 1% of all Chinese teas? The answer lies in its popularity among tea drinkers – they found other types of tea much more desirable, so the need for a white tea production is much lower.

Individually Sourced or Bought From a Wholesaler?

Most of the tea found in western shops comes from specialized tea wholesalers. That tea is specifically aimed at western market, having all certificates needed for a carefree import. The best is, of course, sold out much sooner to prominent tea connoisseurs or vendors with the right knowledge and connections. If the tea has not been individually sourced, there is a higher chance it is not the best in its category and might not have the premium flavor.

With many factors to be taken into consideration, vendors have a huge space for juggling the price of tea and adjusting details to make it more desirable. Very high-quality Silver Needle tea will always come from Fujian, will have a very delicate color and superb flavor even after a few steeps, with lots of fluffy hairs floating on the surface.

Image provided by author.

About the author:
Will Bailey is the co-owner of the boutique tea company known as California Tea House located in Southern California, where you can find an amazing collection of fine, organic loose leaf tea and small batch tea blends.

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5 Most Effective Detox Drinks for Weight Loss

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 13:00

Guest post by: Amanda Wilks

Are the limits of your current diet not doing enough for your weight? That’s totally understandable considering how complex and difficult a proper diet and exercise regimen can be.

Combining the proper amounts of healthy eating, calorie counting, smart nutrient choices and physical activity requires a level of dedication that some aren’t ready to reach. For some people, simple drinks such as green tea help with weight loss, but for others, problems arise because they just aren’t getting the right nutrients during their diet, leading to issues that can spiral back into weight gain. That’s where detox drinks enter the picture.

Made out of specially formulated combinations of ingredients that work in tandem to boost the body’s natural functions and ensure healthy living, a detox drink can come in a variety of forms. Whether it’s fruits and water or a vegetable medley mixed with herbs blended up and served as they are. No matter the delivery method, the end goal is the same: Find what your body lacks, supplement what it needs and flush out undesirable toxins to promote a healthier you.

So while good health and a proper diet require a solid understanding of your body’s needs, these five detox drinks can kick-start any diet and have you feeling better in no time.

1. Apple, Cinnamon, and Honey Water


Starting off strong is a combination of proven detox winners. Fruits in general provide essential antioxidants and enzymes your body produces but often not in a viable enough quantity to boost the body’s processes to fat-burning levels.

Combined with the power of cinnamon, which can help keep your body’s insulin levels steady and keep you feeling full for longer periods of time after you eat, you’ll be on the right path to a healthy drink option suitable for any time of day. Add some honey for sweetness and you might just keep this one around even after your diet has served its purpose!

2. Cucumber Lemonade


Praising the benefits of cucumber and lemon water is easy enough, given how strong of an alkalizer lemon can be. Pairing it with the mineral-packed power of the cucumber just makes this a winner in nearly every sense of the word.

By balancing the pH level of your body, you might just find your diet has been the victim of poor pH levels for longer than you realized. Taking it on in proper lemonade form just makes it that much tastier.

3. Slim Down Detox Water


Touted as the starting point for every detox drinker, this blend of several key fruits (such as grapefruits, cucumber, lemons, limes) and mint combines the strengths of many a star in the detox world into one convenient drink.

It boasts a quick prep time and doesn’t require an overnight soak to get the full benefits of the detox, though you may get slightly better infusion if you start this one the night before. At only seven calories, it won’t add a burden to your calorie counting, either.

4. Bedtime Drink for Detoxification and Fat Burn


Taking a smoothie approach to the detox process is this blended beverage option for your pre-bedtime routine. Certain ingredients show their colors when fully emulsified with supporting players that highlight their individual strengths, which is why the leafy herbage of parsley is paired up with lemon and ginger – two regular co-conspirators that round out the nutrient-rich benefits of herbage with some fruity notes to keep your pH balance in check and your body aligned as best it can be.

For best results, make this a part of your regular bedtime routine and drink one glass per evening. Skip your bedtime snack, since this will doubtlessly keep you feeling full.

5. Cranberry Detox Drink


What’s better than just losing weight? Losing weight and looking younger in the process, of course!

Cranberries are held in high regard for their phytonutrients and are often referred to as one of the best foods you can eat to keep your skin looking healthier. They might even help you fight off excess fat you’ve been working at, which is just what you’re looking for in this kind of detox drink.

As a middle ground between a smoothie and a detox water, this one requires extra straining to make it work but the end result is worth the effort.

Conclusion

As long as you stick to your diet and keep your nutrient input on track, detox drinks can only help you in the long run.

By acting as a low-calorie beverage with health benefits that help your body perform properly you can fight off the woes of aging and weight gain by sipping your way to a healthier you.

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Hangover Tisane Recipe

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 13:00

I began studying herbalism in my late teens, and have continued practicing to varying degrees ever since. While in my early college days, the top two requests I got were tea for when people were sick with some kind of cold or flu; and a cure for “wine flu” also known as a hangover.

I always started with the advice that drinking less alcohol or at least more water was really their best bet, as preventative medicine is the most effective. This elicited the expected eyerolls and request for actual help. As a result, I came up with this very simple recipe that I could whip up and hand out anytime.

A quick trip to a local herb shop will yield these two relatively common herbal ingredients. If none are available, there are plenty of websites that carry organic food-grade herbs. My personal favorite is Mountain Rose Herbs. This recipe uses dried herbs.

For one mug of tisane:

1.5 teaspoons meadowsweet
0.5 teaspoons lavender
1 spoonful honey, to taste

Steep the herb ingredients in water heated to a full boil for ten minutes. Add honey before serving.

A few notes about this recipe:

  • Meadowsweet is a wonderful herb that can be used to treat everything from stomach acidity and upset to headaches and nausea. Unfortunately, it is a natural source of salicylates so is NOT safe for use by anyone who is taking blood-thinners.
  • Lavender is one of the gentlest and most widely used herbs. However, its use should be avoided if allergic.
  • Honey is actually a necessary ingredient in this recipe, as it contains fructose.

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Tea and Kids – Parents and Grandparents – Listen Up

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 13:00

I’m often asked if it’s o.k. for kids to drink tea. The answer is a resounding YES. I remember reading an article a few years back about elementary school kids in Japan getting green tea during their morning at school. (I did search for that article but I’m not able to find it I’m afraid.) It reminded me of milk that we were given in kindergarten when I was a child. I loved those small pint cartons. Milk and cookies before nap time was a tradition for most of us growing up in public schools in the 1950’s. Do we need to even question which is the healthier option? Tea vs cow’s milk? With increasing evidence of the dangers of dairy and sugar, it’s a wonder that children are allowed to eat either of those traditional American foods which are geared toward children. We can thank the Dairy lobby for that along with the powerful sugar lobby in this country.

For those really wanting to understand the harm in consuming animal products, you can easily find it in the China Study. I have to warn you, however, the information is conclusive and extremely disturbing.

Regarding milk, it is the caseins in milk that cause cancer as do animal protein in general. The story documents the National Institute of Health’s attitude about these findings and their ultimate conclusions:  They believe that meat and milk are just too much a part of American culture to consider reporting on these findings. They go on to talk about our sacred American Holidays – that all include meat of some kind. How would we ever survive Thanksgiving without a turkey? I believe the decision to withhold this information to the general public, who have in fact funded this type of research, is criminal. Quite frankly, it’s unimaginable to me that in 2018, in the United States of America, corporations get away with these powerful lobbies that ultimately determine what we eat and drink.

I remember the old food pyramid that we all grew up with. Did you know that it wasn’t science that produced those charts but the meat and dairy industry? We were all lead astray by corporate America. Today, our children born within the last decade, are the first generation that isn’t expected to live longer than their parents. This is shocking but true. With our youngest citizens experiencing obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer in record numbers, it’s no wonder that their lives will be cut short due to chronic illness unless we take responsibility for educating ourselves about the food that we eat.

A more recent book has been written which provides similar, scientific, factual information about our diet. How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger – “Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease”.

So let’s get back to kids and tea. I’m always amazed by blogs which make the suggestion that you speak with your pediatrician about whether he/she feels that tea is o.k. for your child. If that wasn’t so sad, it would be funny. Current medical schools in the U.S. provide less than 1 day of lecture regarding nutrition. Why would we expect our doctors to have any knowable information about nutrition unless that’s an area that they chose to explore themselves? Do they provide us with scientific information about the dangers of animal protein?  Do we ask our pediatricians if it’s o.k. to let our kid have a Hershey Kiss or two? That’s about the amount of caffeine in a small cup of green tea. I love those 2-ounce cups which fit perfectly into little hands. For finicky eaters, I would consider adding a squeeze of orange juice into the tea. Once your little one gets turned on to this delicious warm beverage, you will be raising a future tea lover who can enjoy the countless health advantages of teas and tisanes throughout their lives. Ultimately work toward serving green tea straight up, but remember, our children are used to strong tasting, sugary drinks. Once they develop a taste for more subtle beverages, the world of tea will open up to them.

I encourage all parents and grandparents to develop a tea ritual with your family. Set aside some time where tea is served and the family catches up with each other. Maybe generate some ideas about how to spend some time over the weekend. What movies look good. Bring out some board games. Nothing stressful or challenging – just enjoying each others company while drinking the healthiest beverage on the planet.

Image provided by author.

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Blast From the Past: New Years Resolution: Lose weight with Green Tea? The Skinny on Fat and Tea

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 13:00

You’ve heard them many times before, maybe even uttered from your own lips. Those New Year’s Resolutions roll off our tongues like so much saliva. It’s certainly easy to say, but not so easy to follow through on.

The past few years have seen more and more reports about the weight reducing properties of green tea and, increasingly, people are drinking more tea for that purpose. But does green tea really help to shed those unwanted pounds? I thought I would take a look at the research to help clarify whether or not green tea really does make a difference with weight loss.

The good news, for you weight loss invoking New Years Resolution people: tea does have real physiological effects on weight loss and maintenance. There appear to be numerous factors involved that research continues to attempt to tease out. Tea, especially the less oxidized teas like white, green, yellow and even oolong, appear to have an advantage in the fight against weight gain. It provides the dynamic duo of caffeine and catechins (EGCG in particular). Each offers different mechanisms by which they impact weight but also appear to have an even more powerful synergistic effect to help us maintain a healthy weight.

Some of the primary mechanisms by which it works are as follows:

1. Thermogenisis – the caffeine inhibits the enzymatic breakdown of cyclic AMP, which is a source of energy creation in the body (from ATP) involved in protein, sugar and fat metabolism, and the EGCG inhibits the enzymatic breakdown of norepinephrine which is a neurotransmitter involved in Sympathetic Nervous System arousal (it also affects mood).
2. Lipolysis – acceleration of the breakdown of fat in the body.
3. Suppressing effect on Leptin – Leptin (the presence of which, paradoxically, signals reduced appetite) has an activating effect on angiogenesis (the creation of new blood vessels) which also appears to be linked to increasing fat cells (adipogenesis). Catechins have an inhibiting effect on Leptin creating an antiangiogenesis effect (reduces vascularization) which subsequently also reduces fat cells.

Keep in mind that the factors stated above seem to be the primary mechanisms currently being discovered, but researchers still don’t know a lot. Because of the richness of the phytochemical constituents in the Camellia sinensis plant, I am confident that they will continue to discover new mechanisms involved in addition to further clarifying existing ones. It is also important to keep in mind that much of the research has and is being done on rats as well as the use of concentrated extracts (rats and humans) which are often in much higher concentrations than a human would normally consume. In addition, it appears that these effects work best for modestly overweight or normal weight people, and not as well for obese individuals. Although I am now more convinced than ever of the real physiological effects that tea has on metabolism and weight, it remains unclear to me (and to much of the scientific community as well) exactly how much of an impact it has and how much tea must be consumed in order to have these effects. Therefore, my recommendations for your New Years Resolution is to drink as much tea as you would enjoy every day as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. This way you can enjoy all of the wonderful life-enhancing qualities that tea provides, including being one part of a healthy weight maintenance plan. Happy New Year.

p.s. For a look at a truly drastic weight loss diet with tea, read this article I wrote a while back.

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This article was originally posted in January 2008.

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Can Tea Decrease the Risk of Blindness?

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 13:00

I am happy to report that hot tea can in fact significantly reduce your likelihood of getting glaucoma by 74% according to an article by Reuters.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world and it looks like hot tea can really help in the battle to save vision. As the baby boomers are aging, the threat of glaucoma increases. Losing one’s vision will have a profound impact on one’s ability to live an independent lifestyle and prevention is key. Once vision is lost, it’s not possible to recover it. Having annual vision tests will help to identify early vision problems which are key to dealing with glaucoma. Treatments are available to halt the disease but not to reverse the damage.

As a tea drinker, I’m delighted to learn about yet another health benefit of my favorite beverage. With over 3 million Americans and 58 million people worldwide suffering from glaucoma, this is a disease that must be taken seriously. According to the British Journal of Ophthalmology, study participants who drank one cup of caffeinated hot tea daily had  74% lower odds of getting glaucoma.

Drink to your health and enjoy every delicious sip.

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Townshend’s Tea Spirits

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 13:00

Angry cat not included.

A couple weeks back, my husband and I stopped at the liquor store to get a bottle of brandy for Christmas. While we were there I happened to spot this sample pack of tea liqueurs and was extremely excited to try it! We’ve been to one of the Townshend’s Teahouses in Portland, so finding that they’ve started the Thomas and Sons Distillery in order to make these liqueurs really sparked my curiosity. This sample set was the best Christmas gift I could have bought myself.

Here are my husband’s and my impressions of each tea liqueur.

Kashmiri Spiced Amaro “Bitter Tea”
My first impression was that it has a bit of peppermint coolness, then cardamom, and after that it just tastes like fresh nutmeg. My husband said that it “tastes like the smell of walking into an import store.” It was strong and bitter enough that it wasn’t my favorite by itself, but would be good mixed with 7up or vodka. My husband thinks it would go well with gin and lime.

Cassia Orange Ginger “Spice Tea”
I think that the orange was a bit cloying and on the strong side, and there was not enough ginger. But I love ginger so in my opinion, it’s not gingery enough unless it’s got some serious bite. It reminded my husband of a ginger beer because it’s got a tiny bit of lingering ginger flavor on the tongue, though he thinks the orange is what counters the ginger and might be a bit overwhelming. This one is a little sweeter and could be sipped on its own. I think it would go well in hot chocolate, and my husband suggests mixing with brandy.

Single Estate Ceylon “Sweet Tea”
Probably the most well-rounded and easiest to sample. Not overwhelming, it is sweet but has a pleasant black tea flavor. We were both of the opinion that it would be best by itself over ice, maybe with a bit of lemon. Like southern sweet tea, it seems like more of a “summer afternoon” kind of drink.

Lapsang Souchong “Smoke Tea”
Lapsang is one of my favorite teas, so it was honestly what really drew me to this sample set. The flavor did not disappoint! It tastes exactly like a strong lapsang, though it is sweetened and I found that a little disconcerting since I always drink it black. My husband said that it’s an “exciting” flavor: Unique and different with the smokiness combined with sweetness. He thinks that it would be perfect to sip on the rocks alternating with a glass of burgundy wine while eating a pepper steak.

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