Turmeric – The New Superfood?

Turmeric Tea

Turmeric is a spice commonly associated with Asian and Indian foods. It is traditionally used in curry, and is even used to lend a yellow color to mustards and cheeses. Recently, turmeric has gained attention for its myriad of purported health benefits due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric may be another example where science is catching up with ancient medicine. For thousands of years, turmeric was used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine to aid digestion and liver function, relieve arthritis pain, for topical applications to treat wounds, and regulate menstruation.

Recent research is focusing on curcumin, a compound produced in the rhizome of the turmeric plant. Curcumin gives turmeric its bright yellow color. It also has many purported health benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and neuroprotective properties. Studies have focused on turmeric’s potential use in treatment of arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, stomach ulcers, heart disease, and even depression.

However, the science is not firmly established yet when it comes to turmeric. According to Barbara Delage, a scientist with the Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center, “claiming that [turmeric] can be useful for humans is premature, given the current evidence.” Delage notes that few good human clinical trials have been completed. In addition, curcumin has poor bioavailability, meaning that very little of the plant compound is actually absorbed by the body.

So while the science catches up with folk medicine, try adding a little turmeric to your diet.

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Teas for Cold and Flu

what teas are good for cold and flu

Every year a nasty bug makes the rounds in schools, the office, and amongst friends and family. You wash your hands religiously, you wipe down your phone, door handles, and surfaces with disinfectant, and avoid your coughing companions like the plague. Despite your best efforts, you wake up one day with those terrible symptoms: cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue etc… You’re sick!

Aside from bedrest, medication, and other practical advice to get over your cold or flu, drinking certain teas may bring relief, and might even help you recover faster.

Green Tea

Green tea contains many beneficial compounds, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and l-theanine. These compounds have antioxidant, as well as antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking green tea throughout the day can not only help you stay hydrated and provide temporary relief to symptoms, it can also help fight the virus itself.

Keep in mind that green tea has caffeine, so don’t drink it too late in the day, or in too great a quantity.

Check out our green teas.

Elderberry Tea

While elderberry is a tasty addition to certain flavored tea blends, it has also been used for hundreds of years to treat respiratory infections.

Tea made from elderberries contains compounds that reduce inflammation in mucous membranes and has antiviral properties. Studies evaluating the effectiveness of elderberry found that participants were able to recover from flu days faster than those who did not consume elderberry.

There are several species of elder, but Sambucus nigra, AKA black elder, is the one used most often for medicinal purposes. Be careful if you are harvesting your own elder; not all elder is created equal. Some species, like dwarf elder, may be toxic. When you buy food with elderberries, it is usually the black elder variety.

Check out our elderberry teas.

Peppermint

Menthol and methyl salicylate, the active ingredients in peppermint, help thin mucous, making peppermint steam an effective decongestant and expectorant. A soothing infusion of peppermint tea may also help relieve a sore throat.

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Health Benefits of Coffee vs. Tea Infographic

Check out this neat infographic comparing the health benefits of coffee vis tea, including information on caffeine, and how much caffeine is too much.

Coffee and tea health comparison

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Caffeine Comparison: Tea vs Coffee vs Cola vs Energy Drinks

Coffee vs tea caffeine

Image courtesy Greg Rodgers, Flickr

Did you ever wonder how tea stacks up to coffee, cola, and energy drinks when it comes to caffeine? It’s all here, including some other interesting food items.

This is from an FDA study. We provide a gram to gram comparison and a per-serving comparison. While some items are high in caffeine, their serving size is small, which can minimize the caffeine you consume overall.

Tea Infographic: Health Benefits and Consumption

Check out this fun tea infographic about tea health benefits and US consumption

Tea infographic, health benefits and consumption

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March is National Caffeine Awareness Month

It’s National Caffeine Awareness Month, a good time to evaluate your caffeine consumption. What’s your guilty pleasure? A pot of coffee? A few cans of energy drink? A bag of chocolate covered espresso beans? Just how much caffeine do you consume?

Check out our Caffeine Comparison of Popular Items to find out how much caffeine you’re really consuming.

Looking to kick your coffee craving in the morning? Check out these Top 5 Coffee Substitutes to get you started.

Whatever your craving, take time to cut back and let your body slow down a little.

Check out our decaf teas, our herbal and rooibos tisanes to find a caffeine free bevarage to get you through March!

Caffeine Content of Loose Leaf Tea

The Short Answer:

Here is a general guideline for how much the average cup of tea will have:

The Long Answer

Black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and white tea all contain caffeine. It’s commonly believed that black tea has the highest caffeine content while green and white tea has the lowest caffeine content. However, this isn’t always true.

Oxidation Doesn’t Affect Caffeine Content

What makes a green tea different from a black tea? Oxidation. All teas start from a freshly plucked leaf. It’s all about how long they’re allowed to sit out and naturally break down. During this process, the caffeine content remains the same. So the same leaf made into a green or a black tea will have the same caffeine.

What Affects Caffeine Content in Tea?

Caffeine molecule

  • Steeping Time: The longer you steep a tea, the more caffeine you get. That’s part of the reason why black tea tends to have more caffeine, because it steeps longer than green or white tea.
  • Steeping Temperature: The hotter the water, the more caffeine gets in your pot of tea.
  • Size of Harvested Leaf: Tea buds have the highest caffeine content. The lower leafs on the tea tree have lower caffeine. Guess what teas generally use the most tea buds? White teas and premium grade teas. Check out this article to see a fun graphic on how much caffeine is in each part of the leaf.
  • Fineness of Finished Tea: Some teas like oolongs have broad leaves when steeped. However, many breakfast teas have a broken leaf. Broken tea leaves lead to more caffeine getting released in your cup of tea.
  • Shading: A shade grown tea like Gyokuro will have a higher caffeine content than a tea grown in full sun.
  • Assam vs Chinese varieties: Indian Assam varieties of tea tend to have more caffeine than Chinese varieties.
  • Time Harvested: Tea harvested in warm months tends to have higher caffeine than teas grown in the cooler months.
  • Multiple Infusions Reduces Caffeine: To see how much caffeine is removed per infusion, check out this article with a fun graphic.

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Fun Fact: Did you know that on average, the caffeine in 2 cups of tea equals 1 cup of coffee? Source: FDA

Health Benefits of Tulsi

purple tulsi

Tulsi (holy basil) is a close relative of culinary basil. It’s prepared as an herbal infusion, and is desired for its spicy, full bodied flavor, and its calming properties.

Tulsi is prized for its healing properties. It’s originally from India and is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an “adaptogen” to counter life’s stresses. It’s considered a sacred plant by the Hindus and is often planted around Hindu shrines. The Hindu name for holy basil, Tulsi, means “the incomparable one.” Medicine is made from the leaves, stems, and seeds.

Tulsi is a powerful antioxidant with antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical research is ongoing, and has focused on stress relief and relaxation. As an adaptogen, tulsi helps the body function during times of stress. It decreases corticosterone, a stress hormone. Lower levels of corticosterone are associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and can reduce the risk of age-related mental disorders.

There are three varieties of tulsi: Rama Tulsi (Green Leaf Tulsi), Krishna Tulsi ( Shyama Tulsi or Purple Leaf Tulsi), and Vana Tulsi (or Wild Leaf Tulsi). Of the three varieties, Purple Tulsi is considered the most beneficial.

Fun Fact: In Hindu mythology, Tulsi symbolizes the goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu, who is one of the religion’s most important deities.

Resources

Holy Basil: Relieve Anxiety and Stress Naturally http://www.medicinehunter.com/holy-basil

Tea Leaf Grade and Caffeine Content

Grading of tea leaves and caffeine content

Contrary to popular belief, black teas don’t always have more caffeine than green, white, or oolong teas. In fact, certain green and white teas can have significantly more caffeine than black teas.

Caffeine content has more to do with the part of the tea tree that it comes from. The topmost bud contains the most caffeine. The topmost leaves contain the next highest caffeine levels. The larger, lower leaves contain the least caffeine.

Typically, higher end teas will have more tea buds. A bolder cup of tea will use lower leaves on the tea tree. Surprisingly, a stong, smoky Lapsang Souchong will have a low level of caffeine compared to a tippy white tea such as Silver Needle.

Of course, there are other factors that affect the level of caffeine in tea, such as steeping time and temperature. Stay tuned for our next article on all the factors that affect caffeine level in tea.

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Fun Fact: Did you know that rinsing your tea leaves in hot water won’t get rid of as much caffeine as you hope. Check out this article to see how much caffeine remains after resteeping your tea.

How Much Caffeine is Left After Resteeping?

Caffeine in tea

Every time you steep tea, caffeine is removed. The question is, how much tea is left after a second and third steeping? Is it true that you can rinse tea leaves to remove most of the caffeine?

Traditional Method for Removing Caffeine from Tea

  1. Steep tea for 30 Seconds in hot water
  2. Dump water
  3. Resteep tea for desired time

Now 80% of the caffeine is removed, right? Think again… According to a study by Dr. Bruce Branan, Professor of Chemistry at Asbury College (Wilmore, KY), it takes a three-minute infusion just to remove 46-70% of the caffeine from a cup of tea.

Another item of interest, a Chinese white tea ranked #2 in caffeine content, just under an Assam black tea, suggesting that oxidation doesn’t affect caffeine levels in tea.

The only way to remove caffeine? Buy a decaf tea, or try an herbal infusion

Resources:

Too Easy to be True: De-bunking the At-Home Decaffeination Myth. Bruce Richardson http://elmwoodinn.com/about/caffeine.html

Fun Fact: Did you know that shade grown teas have more caffeine than teas grown in full sun?