I’m a tea drinker. I believe the evidence speaks for itself: I write a Tea Blog; I own and operate a tea leaf company; I drink several cups (if not more!) a day; oh, and I love the wonderful variety of tea that’s found in so many corners of the world. So, I have to admit that I’m somewhat biased to the benefits of tea versus other drinks found in the same category of my favorite energy-boosting beverage. I should add that I’m a regular drinker of coffee (at least one cup a day), I thoroughly enjoy a beautifully crafted beer and a day doesn’t go by without a healthy serving of fresh juice. The one drink that I’ve tried and have never been able to get a handle on is the Boom-Bust-Bang Energy Drink.
Today’s entry will help the consumer of both tea and energy drinks make a more informed decision on the differences between the two. The information provided in this article will also shed light on some very important issues around the over consumption of energy drinks and the possible side effects. Now, don’t get me wrong, with just about any beverage or food of choice, “too much of a good thing” can lead to unintended consequences. Still, when comparing the benefits vs. the possible consequences it’s sometimes worthwhile bypassing the harmful product and instead turn to the healthier choice for the long term. So, without further delay, let’s briefly look at a couple of studies on energy drinks from two very respected Universities.
The University of California Davis, CA, completed a study on the effects of energy drinks. Performing a battery of tests on many university-aged students and adults, the researchers’ collective results reiterated that there is “limited evidence…improves physical and mental performance, driving ability when tired and awareness when faced with decreased mental fatigue."
The examination measured the levels of caffeine found in the typical energy drink versus coffee, tea and cola. Comparing energy drinks and tea, the caffeine content of an 8-12 fl. oz serving was upwards of 294mg (when considering that most energy drinks contain 2-3 servings) while tea contained roughly 48-175mg.
Canada’s McGill University performed a similar study on the possible effects of energy drink consumption on the public in general and also the effects on children and adolescents. While already confirming the high levels of caffeine and sugar found in most energy drinks, the study cited a Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial that said that consumption “can pose serious health risks to children and adolescents.” Numerous symptoms were observed due to the consumption of energy drinks:
· Heart Palpitations
· GI (gastrointestinal) upset
· Feelings of anxiety and nervousness
Continuing with the theme from Friday’s Guest Article, “How Tea Makes You More Productive,” I would toss the fascination with energy drinks to the curb and grab a warm, comforting and well-balanced cup of tea. If you aren't a tea drinker as of this moment, and you think that drinking a cup “isn't macho” or “strong enough”, give tea a second or third chance. The array of flavours and variety of strengths may surprise you. Most importantly, the natural energy-boosters along with the healthy nature of tea is sure to boost your productivity, your stamina, and above all else, your energy levels the whole day through!
Starting today (Friday), Innofarmer Tea is Welcomes a Guest Writer to our Blog. Look for interesting, thought-provoking articles related to "tea and life". We hope that you will enjoy this new addition to our growing collection of articles and informative pieces. Most importantly, we want you (the reader) to take away something valuable after reading each and every article.
Have yourself a fantastic weekend and stay warm (if you're in the northern hemisphere)!
How Tea Makes You More Productive
by Alina Vrabie
Imagine sipping a cup of tea on a cold winter day. Feel how it warms up your cold hands, how it breathes relaxation into your tense body. These are the feel-good reasons to enjoy a cup of tea, but there are lots of science-backed reasons to drink tea too. It can fight against free radicals that contribute to cancer and heart disease, and it can help improve vision. But the biggest secret hidden in your cup of tea is that it will make you more productive.
The positive effects of tea are mainly due to two ingredients, theanine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG is the most powerful antioxidant found in tea, and it lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer because it protects against cell damage caused by oxidation. Theanine is an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea. It’s what gives you the feeling of relaxation, because it stimulates the production of alpha brain waves. As if this wasn’t enough, studies have shown that tea has many more benefits. Here’s how tea can help you work smarter.
Improves concentration The theanine in green tea is not only calming, but helps with focus and concentration. Theanine is an amino acid that increases alpha brain wave activity, which in turn promotes relaxation. In combination with caffeine, theanine induces a feeling of concentration that lasts longer than the one produced by caffeine alone. That is because theanine decreases the seratonin levels that are artificially increased by caffeine, resulting in better speed perception, concentration and decreased anxiety.
Keeps You Hydrated Hydration is essential to health, and health is essential to being productive. Every cell in your body needs to be hydrated to function properly. Even though it’s a caffeinated drink, tea still contributes to our daily fluid needs. In fact, it has the same hydrating effects of water, with the added benefits of antioxidants, according to a study sponsored by the Tea Council.
In high doses, caffeine does dehydrate, but it is very unlikely to brew a cup of tea so strong that it dehydrates you – that cup of tea just wouldn’t be palatable. However, if the caffeine still has you concerned, you can steer clear of any possible risk by keeping your tea intake under 8 cups per day.
Regulates Your Body Temperature Your body temperature fluctuates during the day as you go through your natural circadian cycle. It drops significantly at night, but you also experience a slight drop in temperature in the early to mid-afternoon, which seems to explain why we see a natural dip in our energy level between 1 and 3 pm. To increase alertness and reduce sleepiness, a cup of tea may just be what you need, as it will slightly increase your body temperature.
Has Just Enough Caffeine Before the end of my first year in university, I had realized that coffee gave me the jitters. But I still needed a caffeine kick to get me through the day. That’s when I realized that tea would be my salvation, especially in the afternoon when our bodies naturally experience a drop in energy levels.
Some say that caffeine from tea is better than caffeine from coffee because it is released more slowly in the body, but in fact tea just has less caffeine than coffee. Coffee has two to three times more caffeine than tea. For many people, the 135 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz. cup of coffee can result in headaches, indigestion or the jitters, and it can interfere with sleep. That’s when you turn to tea, which only contains 30-40 mg of caffeine in the same 8 oz. cup.
Reduces Stress Levels Sip on this: drinking black tea four times a day for 6 weeks can result in lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a stressful event. What’s more, people who drink tea are able to de-stress more quickly, according to a University College London study.
Makes You Look Younger White tea has a high count of the antioxidant polyphenol, which seems to be where the fountain of youth is hidden. One study showed that the antioxidants in white tea strengthen collagen and elastin – two factors in the development of lines and wrinkles. And according to a 2011 study, tea can keep your joints younger too. Isn’t looking and feeling young a productivity boost in itself?
Gives You the Time to Reflect If all of the above reasons seem don’t seem important enough to you, then let this point be your only takeaway. I can’t overemphasize the importance of taking time aside to reflect on your day, your week, your month, your year, your life.
Pausing is not a waste of time. It’s like sharpening your tools before you start cutting down trees. It allows you to take in your successes, to learn from your mistakes and to consider your future direction. It’s easy to overwork ourselves when we still look at the word “workaholic” as a compliment. But you can’t be always charging forward, almost blindly, without taking the time to reflect. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “drink your tea slowly and reverently.”
Whether you like loose tea or tea bags; green, white or black tea; whether you drink it hot or drink it cold, tea is simply great. Not only does it have proven health benefits – it can also make you more productive in a smart way. I think that’s something we can all get behind.
I'm a traditionalist when it comes to my cup of tea: Set the kettle to ~95'c, splash the water over a handful of dry leaves and let steep for a minute or so. The perfect cup of tasty tea in less than three minutes.
However, from time to time I like to stray from my daily ritual and add a dash of flavour to my favorite drink. Perhaps I mix in a spoonful of honey, or a dash or two of milk, but one of my favorite high-wire acts sees me mixing into my tea a variety of fresh fruit.
On those winter days when those grey skies seem to go on forever, or the temperatures just don't want to break above 0'c, I look no further than my fruit basket for a beautiful, bright and juicy orange. A near favorite fruit that packs quite the healthful punch of vitamins and wholesome goodness in each and every bite
- and sip!
One of the first times that I discovered the outrageously good flavour of Green Tea & Orange Juice dates back to my years living in Taiwan. The temperatures quite regularly hit highs of 30'c ~ 35'c in the summer (before factoring in the humidity). One day my wife ventured over to one of the countless number of tea shops to order up an ice cold GT&OJ. She offered me a sip and I was blown away by the refreshing taste and wonderful flavour of this very simple combination. A dash of honey and this combo instantly became one of the my favorite drinks - even for this old and stuffy traditionalist!
So, how well does GT&OJ measure up in the colder climes? Give it a try! It's super easy to brew up. Here is what I recommend as a course to follow in brewing up a delicious cup of GT&OJ:
1. Brew up some Green Tea (or Chin Shin Oolong Tea)
2. Freshly Squeeze one orange
3. Let your tea stand for about 2~3 mins. to cool off.
4. Add orange juice to taste. Stir. Drink!
(add honey to taste)
Yum! Yum! Yum!
Now, I won't go into the finer details on the health benefits of Green Tea and Orange Juice. Quite frankly, I think you have a basic understanding of the benefits of both. Partnered up and you've got one of those rare one-two kicks of health and happiness!
Enjoy...and have a Great Day!
It's nearly eight-thirty and I've been awake for four hours. The kettle (the modern electric type that automatically shuts off) has 'ticked' off and I'm about to steep my first cup of tea for the day.
(Please give me a moment while I lightly pour the hot water over my dry leaves. Taiwan Black Tea!)
With my brew in hand I descend into a wonderfully peaceful and soothing fifteen minutes of pure bliss. Off in the distance beyond my dust-filled window I see smokestacks belching out the morning exhaust from the plentiful number of buildings that dot the skyline around mid-Toronto. Just a few feet behind me I hear the pitter-patter of my 12-month old son as he rushes from toy to toy, while tiptoeing around our two family dogs. (Not the picturesque cottage country view that I long for, but I'm content with my surroundings.)
This morning is one of those typical Tuesday mornings. People of the city rumble down the main arteries on their way to their offices, shops, schools, places of work and so on. Cold and windy on the streets, there is a sense of warmth and calm that accentuates each and every word that is written onto the screen before me.
Without my bowl of freshly brewed tea (I like to switch between traditional tea cups and bowls) I would feel a sense of loss - perhaps nakedness. The all encompassing aroma, the thought-provoking taste and the immediate pleasure that comes from that very first sip lasts for a handful of minutes. The second, third and fourth steeps carry me through the rest of the day and beyond.
I'm a lover (and I don't use that word loosely) of Tea that spans the globe. Taiwan, my first and most heartfelt love, Chinese, Indian, S. African and so many other teas have many wonderful stories wrapped up in each and every leaf it's hard to imagine a more imaginative delicacy than that of the tea leaf.
And as the early morning hours bleed into that ringing bell of the stock market opening (I trade.) and a meeting scheduled for 10 A.M. with a local tea shop (I share, too.), I'm reminded of why I have come to enjoy drinking tea: it's ability to help gradually bring my thoughts together, bring forward my awareness and focus and give forth the guidance I need to make this Tuesday (and all other days) one of fulfillment and achievement.
What sense of pleasure and enjoyment does tea bring to your day? I would love to understand and appreciate your love for tea through your own words. Please leave a message in the Comment box below.
I had been scoping out the Yonge St. & Eglinton Ave. neighbourhood for several days before I stumbled upon a familiar site. A site familiar for it’s Chinese characters, it’s artistic rendition of the Map of Taiwan and the words that scream “Bubble Tea”. (For those of you who may be reading this article in Asia and abroad, “Bubble Tea” refers to a famous drink invented in Taiwan, also known as Pearl Milk Tea in the English speaking world.) I couldn't imagine that this bubble tea shop would be any different from all of the rest so I decided to move on and learn more about my new community here in Toronto.
Several weeks and a few cups of homemade milk tea later, I warmed up to the idea of popping my head into FormoCha Bubble Tea Shop at 55 Eglinton Ave. E. to give it a try. This was the same tea shop that dawned most of the same characteristics of the tea shops found scattered in Taiwan. I called up a friend who I had not seen since high school and we agreed to meet at the shop to give it a try and to catch up after so many years.
The conversation was enjoyable and the stories we had to catch each other up on were endless. However, I have to cut straight to the tea because I have something to tell you that can no longer remain a secret to the people of Toronto.
FormoCha makes the best – in my opinion at least – Bubble Milk Tea this side of Hamilton (and quite possibly throughout Canada…but I haven’t tried the shops in Vancouver, yet!). I was absolutely blown away by the authenticity of the taste – the taste of the Black Tea, the smooth silky feel of the milk, even the tapioca balls that rounded out the whole experience. All that without even mentioning the very clean, welcoming and warm shop, the helpful staff and even some educational notes on Taiwan and it’s incredible “Story”.
I will have to admit that I’m a big fan of Taiwan – I did live on the Island for 9 years – so I’m somewhat biased towards Taiwan Tea. With that said, however, I have not been a big fan of Bubble Tea for a long time now. Still, after taking a stab at the cup in front of me I have to say, without question, that Daniel Li (Owner/Operator) and his entourage make one heck of a delicious Pearl Milk Tea.
A few suggestions for the beginner/novice in the realm of Bubble Tea: Ask for ½ sugar and little to no ice. Trust me! The best measure(ments) give you the greatest unspoken pleasure.
FormoCha Bubble Tea Shop
55 Eglinton Ave E.
Toronto, ON Canada
How Do You Take Your Tea?
Off we went, out our front door and onto Roehampton Ave. The walk is not necessarily a long one, but with October firmly in place and a slight breeze at our backs, we could feel a chill beginning to form as Fall continued into maturity.
We were on our way to The Fish Street Market (2584 Yonge St.) for another full day of steeping, sharing, educating and drinking some tea with our neighbours in the North Toronto / Uptown Yonge St. community. Innofarmer Organic Tea had a fantastic first run two weeks ago and the expectations were running high once again. To be sure, we were not to be disappointed.
What can I say other than "A wonderful afternoon was had by all - ourselves, the restaurant owners (Anthony and Dany), the community that stopped to talk and try our authentic Taiwan teas and even a few dogs and a rabbit!
While the number of folks that passed by couldn't compare to two weeks earlier (remember, there was a Fall Festival on Yonge St.), the friendly faces that did venture over to our table were thoroughly interested in what we were sampling and genuinely interested in discovering more about Taiwan tea.
Throughout the afternoon we were greeted by Anthony and Dany with copious amounts of delicious food - truly one of my favorite restaurants north of Eglinton Ave. - and by 6:00pm we were all but sold out of our Ginger & Black Sugar Tea samples and take-home bags.
This Saturday was a culmination of many months of practice in Taiwan serviing tea and wonderful experiences to my fellow friends and passersby. And, I must say with great enthusiasm, Innofarmer Organic Tea's first Tea Outing in Canada (numbering 6 in total) was an absolute success.
After a brief walk from home, Cohen, Sunshine and I arrived at Marlon's Meat & Fish (2636 Yonge St. - between Eglinton and Lawrence Ave.) well-rested and ready for a fun day of sampling, sharing, trading and building new friendships with members of the North Toronto community.
By 11:00 in the morning the street was filled with adults, children, parents, window shoppers, grandparents, folks from out of town and all around. The feeling that resulted from people stopping by to ask about our tea, sampling and even purchashing from our delicious selection of Taiwan tea was immeasureable. Few words can describe the enjoyment that was shared by all the friendly neigbours that stopped by as they strolled up and down Yonge St.
Once dusk began to set in we knew it was time to pack up our tea and set off into the horizon. It was a fantastic day enjoyed by Innofarmer Organic Tea, friends and family that stopped by and our new community at Uptown Yonge St. and North Toronto.
Would you like to purchase some Innofarmer Organic Tea? You can find a wide selection of our tea at Marlin's Meat & Fish. Our tea makes great food pairings. Stop by, glance at our pairing ideas and give Innofarmer a try.
Marlon's Meat & Fish
2636 Yonge St.
Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/STI87
We arrived about 30 minutes before our friends so the family and I decided to unpack our tea equipment and leaves, and make a quick serving of tea to warm up our chilly bones before the 'big pick'. What I discovered after steeping the first of three steeps was that a stove (or other water heating device) is a must when making tea. (With that said, you can very easily brew up some GuiFei Honey Oolong tea and a variety of others through a cold-brew method. It takes about 6-8 hours to fully appreciate the taste, but it makes a fantastic summer refresher.) We filled up three medium-sized thermos' with boiling water at home, but by the time we arrived at Applewoods Farm & Winery the water had already chilled.
Still, the warm tea was a nice way to loosen up and warm up our cool frames before heading out to gather some delicious apples.
After a few hours of picking and some time in the playground, we were ready to head back to the city for a fun-filled family BBQ with all the fixings - including a couple of juicy and delicious apples!
If you would like to visit Applewoods, here is a link to their website. Just click and visit. Enjoy!
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis
“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
Guifei Honey Oolong