March 28, 2016
Drinking green tea on a regular basis seems to have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels.
According to a study conducted at the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, green tea may contribute to keeping the “good” cholesterol levels stable, while cutting the “bad” cholesterol levels. The findings of this research study showed that while levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol dipped, there was no change in high-density (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.
The research team pooled the results of 14 randomized trials in which participants drank green tea or took an extract for periods ranging from three weeks to three months, or were assigned to a placebo group.
On average, green tea reduced total cholesterol by 7.2 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) compared to levels seen in those taking the placebo. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol fell by a mean of 2.2 mg/dL, or slightly less than
The researchers stated that the cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea may be due to a decreased absorption of cholesterol in the gut for which certain catechins are responsible. According to Nathan Wong at the Heart Disease Prevention Program at the University of California, Irvine, this reduction is not substantial and therefore green tea should not be used to control high cholesterol levels in place of well-proven prescription drugs.
Rather than relying on green tea as a remedy to fix what is broken, it is much better used as a preventative measure and most effective when you make it a part of your healthy diet.
March 25, 2016
…well not necessarily if we are talking about the white fluffy candy that is the main ingredient in campfire s’mores.
The real marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is a tall perennial covered with large pink flowers that bloom in late summer.Â While the leaves and flowers can be used for tea, it is the root that is most often used medicinally.
- Marshmallow is what is called a “mucilaginous” herb, meaning that it coats and protects mucous membranes in the body. It reduces inflammation and is often used to counter excess stomach acid and to treat many intestinal problems including colitis, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Since Marshmallow binds toxins, it is a great cleansing herb.
Marshmallow’s demulcent qualities also bring relief to dry coughs, bronchial asthma and bronchial congestion and should not be missing in your medicine cabinet during the cold and flu season
In order to preapre a medicinal cup of marshmallow, use 1 oz of dried herb in 1 pint of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture and drink 1-3 c ups daily.
Marshmallow can interfere with the absorbtion of other medications and should therefore be taken separately.
Now if you are still wondering what this herb has to do with the white sugary candy we have come to know as marshmallows, let me take you back to the pioneer days! In the old days, people would take marshmallow root, peel it and cook it with honey or sugar. They formed the sticky concoction into soft balls and gave them to their children to suck on to soothe a sore throat!
Give this wonderful herb a try some time!
March 21, 2016
Spring is here and with it begins the new tea harvest! Among the first teas picked, are the sought after white teas, and premium prices a paid for this rare and unique tea from the Fujian province in China.
The harvest period is relatively short which is another reason why this varietal is considered rare and special.
White teas are the least processed of all tea types, produced by carefully withering and drying the tender spring leaves and buds. March and April are the months for White tea harvest, and only the single buds are reserved to make Silver Needle.
Bai Hao Yin Zhen, as it is called in China, is comprised entirely of soft silvery buds. The production process is meticulous and includes withering of the buds indoors for 26-32 hours. There is no steaming and no rolling and no oxidation in making White tea. (with the exception of one type: Gongmei, which is relatively unknown here since it is mostly exported to HongKong). After withering, the tea is dried to prevent any oxidation and to preserve the leaf.
White tea dates back to 1850, where during the Qing dynasty it was traditionally not a popular tea in China. Today, the limited production of an all “bud” tea has made Silver Needle White one of the more costly teas and is often used for gifting.
The pointed silver buds stand upright in the water and produce a pale yellow liquor with a smooth, sweet and delicate taste.
Best brewed at 170F for 2 minutes if you intend to re-steep the leaves again. Otherwise you can steep it for4 minutes easily.
A cup of delicate Silver Needle will stir your spirit as gently as the warm weather of spring brings nature back to life!
March 18, 2016
Here is a little more green for you spring and St. Patrick’s Day lovers. Not only is this tea cake delicious, its vibrant color certainly makes a statement when served at an afternoon tea.
For one loaf, you will need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoons Souvia Premium Matcha Powder
( I adjusted this to 2tbsp Vanilla Matcha for a creamier taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar and 2 eggs
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and Souvia Premium Matcha powder. In a second bowl, mix butter and sugar and blend until creamy and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then add the flour mixture. Blend well. Pour the better into a buttered loaf pan (9×5 inches) and bake for 45 minutes at 375F.
March 11, 2016
Next week is St Patrick’s Day – the day ruled by the color green! From green hair and nails to green foods and green beer – there is no limit to your imagination.
To contribute in a natural way, we found this simple syrup that can be made easily and used in many cocktail recipes:
Matcha Simple Syrup
0.5 ounce matcha powder
2 cups cane sugar
Place all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil – stirring gently to break up the matcha. Reduce heat and simmer for three minutes. Pour into glass jar to cool and store. The syrup will keep in the fridge for approximately two weeks. ”
March 9, 2016
During every seminar, I get the question on what is the difference between a tea, an infusion and a decoction – something more applicable to herbs. So for all of you who are still a little unsure, let me shed some light into this subject.
Technically, only an infusion made with the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), that is white, green, oolong and black tea, can be called a “tea”. All other infusions made with botanicals are called infusions or tisanes. In the world of herbs, however, a tea is a particular method of preparing herbs. In order to prepare an herbal “tea”, you take about 1-2 tbs. of plant material per 8 oz of boiling water; pour the water over the herbs, cover and steep for 5-10 minutes. Because of the relatively short steeping time, a tea is much milder and not all beneficial constituents are extracted. It is great if you try a new herb to see how your body tolerates it or simply to enjoy the taste.
An infusion is a stronger version of an herbal tea. They are generally made using the leaves, flowers and stems of a plant. The standard traditional recipe calls for 1/2-1oz of dried herb steeped in a pint of boiling water for 20-30 minutes (or even overnight). If you use fresh herbs, double the amount of plant material. Due to the longer steeping time, more of the healing constituents are extracted making the infusion more therapeutic than a tea. In order to get to the minerals in many nutritive herbs such as nettle, you have to steep the herbs for at least four hours. Of course the longer steeping effects the taste and most infusions tend to be quite bitter. To make them more palatable, use honey, sugar or lemon. Infusions are great when you are sick and need to get the maximum benefit from your herbs.
Decoctions are used to extract the medicinal constituents from the harder parts of the plant, such as bark, roots, rhizomes, dried berries or seeds. In order to prepare a, use the same amount of herbs as with the infusion per pint of water. Place the herbs in a pot and add the water. Bring everything to a full, rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. Make sure the pot is covered!
Finally, strain the decoction through a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar or cup.
March 7, 2016
March 4, 2016
My favorite show, Downton Abbey, is coming to an end this Sunday. For six seasons, I a have enjoyed watching the trials and tribulations of the Lord and Lady Grantham and their family. My favorite, though was the Dowager countess, played by Maggie Smith, and the many tea scenes. We all know that tea time was the time the family gathered to discuss the events of the day. While the tea etiquette was pretty much spelled out, there is one aspect that is not mentioned in the series, namely that social class was indicated by which tea you drank, whether you added milk or lemon and especially whether you took your tea:
Tif = Tea in First or
Mif = Milk in first.
The upper classes (having more delicate palates) drank more delicate teas from China or the plantations of Ceylon. The working class, on the other hand drank more of the bold black teas.
The upper class did not use milk at all -maybe a slice of lemon to accentuate the taste of the tea. (working class could not afford lemon)
The working class used milk – in part because the tea they drink was very strong and could stand a bit of creaming
To ensure a good mix the working class would put the milk in first.
The Mitfords, (an infamous aristocratic family) started referring to unsuitable young men (potential suitors) as MIFs, meaning they put milk in their tea first displaying their lack of breeding and their lowly origins.
The terms, believe it or not, are still in use today!
So…..where would you put yourself….are you M.I.F. or are you a T.I.F?
March 1, 2016
Spring is in the air and with the sunshine, warm temperatures and flowers in bloom, many of us feel the urge to sweep winter out the door and give our homes a thorough cleaning. Why stop there? After the (over-) indulgences of the holidays, our bodies could use a little help as well, getting rid of waste and maybe some unwanted weight. A gentle herbal cleanse is easy and can support the body’s natural detoxification process.
In order to deal with toxins, the body produces excess mucous or fat and traps them in there temporarily. Eventually the mucuous breaks down and the toxins seep into the bloodstream where they can cause tissue damage. Storing waste in such a manner means that in many cases, people may be carrying up to 10 pounds of unhealthy, mucous harboring toxic waste. The result is that we feel sluggish, have PMS, digestive disorders, headaches, joint pains, bad breath, allergies, skin breakouts, poor memory, depression – the list goes on and on.
How does detoxification work?
- eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars, and saturated fats
- minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal care products and substitute with natural alternatives
- include some meditation, relaxation exercise or simply an nap to de-stress
- eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and fiber
Drinking herbal infusions which stimulate the liver to process toxins faster and more efficiently, is something we can do daily. Mother nature provides some wonderful herbals that are not only very effective, but also tasty and easy to prepare. My favorite cleansing herbs are Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale). Nettle is a popular spring tonic since it cleanses the liver and builds blood. It is rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C. Dandelion complements nettle in that it also targets liver and kidney cleansing, but it also tones the stomach, gall bladder and intestine, improving absorbtion of nutrients. It is a very safe diuretic due to its high content in potassium and iron
To maximize benefits, blend the two herbals together and maybe add a little mint or lemon balm for flavor. For an herbal infusion, use 1-2 tsp of herbs per 8oz of boiling water and steep anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Drink 2 cups per day.