Many people have heard and seen the many advertisements about tea and its various cures and benefits. Along with weight loss, cancer fighting, and other cellular benefits curing Headaches and Migraines while reducing stress is among the top advertised. But when I see these ads, I think
After drinking tea for a while, including Green Tea, Oolong Tea, Rooibos, Lemongrass, and a wide listing of organic herbal blends, I have found that I don’t really know if I am fighting cancer inside my body. But I do know that tea can greatly help me to balance out a stressful time, and help get rid of and prevent headaches.
Simply drinking tea, especially some of the herbal blends specifically mixed for the occasion, can help with headaches, and you will receive all other benefits from the actual tea itself. But only drinking the tea in itself will not allow you to fully maximize all the potential, especially in regards to headaches and migraines. Because not always, but sometimes, drinking tea is about Drinking Tea.
I drink tea all day long. Cup after cup (Thank you, Tea Stand) I drink with no sense of traditional practice, or religious afterthought. I just drink it. But when I have a headache (from stress, sinus headache, caffeine, or many other reasons), just drinking tea isn’t always best. That is when my tradition comes out.
I don’t use special pots, or time honored traditions. There is nothing wrong with them, but I rarely have time for that, and growing up in the United States, there are no time honored tea drinking traditions. I always used tea bags (low quality as they were my only option, and didn’t know any better).So now, even though I am closer to tradition, I still do not have time for this. My Headache/Stress tea drinking practice takes less than five minutes. Usually, that is all the time I have (which is mostly why I have the headache in the first place).
I begin with the double chamber gourmet tea bag. High quality loose tea, easy to use tea bag, reusable; three of the reasons why. I rough it up a little to make the tea inside spread out, and then I put the bag into my mug. With the tea bag ready I pour steaming hot water over it. A little bit too hot to drink. When the insulated mug is full, I bob the tea bag in and out of the water for a minute or so, and let it site for a minute (maybe, depending on how strong I want the tea, how many times have I used the tea bag already, etc.) When letting the tea bag sit, I wrap the string around the mug handle and anchoring it with the bead at the end. After the tea is ready, I take the tea bag out of the cup, and hang it on my tea stand. With green teas and Oolong teas, this is especially important. If you leave the tea bag in the cup too long it can get very bitter.
Now that my tea is ready ( a process which took maybe two minutes) I am ready to relieve myself from this nagging headache. With the cup still steaming, I cup my hands around the mug and slowly breath in the steam. Slow, deep breathes. I do this three to five times, or until the tea has cooled down a little so that I can begin drinking it. It is still hot, but I won’t burn my tongue or lips if I drink it. Then I take small slurping sips. The hot water is important not only for the steam but also for these first few sips. The hot water slows down your drinking, and also helps to clear out your head. After a couple minutes of this I am generally feeling better.
Maybe this 5 minute practice is loosely based on tradition, and doesn’t sound too complicated, but it helps me. I am sure that all in this hectic world can appreciate 5 minutes where life is slowed down and especially a tradition that is fast, easy, and that really helps to get alleviate life’s little inconveniences; headaches, migraines, and stress.
Tea originated in China 5,000 years ago and the selection and brewing of tea has been refined to an art with health and spiritual aspects emerging as part of the process.
Experienced tea drinkers throughout the world generally follow established guidelines for infusion or brewing of tea and the infusion process is often as important as the initial selection of tea. For many tea enthusiasts, brewing tea is the most soothing and spiritual part of their day. Brewing a good tasting cup of tea releases tensions for many and has a definite comforting effect.
It is a fact that since 99% of tea is water, better water makes better tea and water is critical to the final outcome of tea preparation. Brewing tea can be complex or simple. For many tea enthusiasts the brewing process is an important part of the tea experience that culminates in the preparation of a satisfying beverage and a way of life. Fine teas are especially sensitive to the nature of water for infusion.
The best water for successful tea infusion is low in mineral content, free of contamination and additives and high in oxygen content.
Water Quality and Brewing Tea
Good tasting tea requires good tasting water. A simple test is that if the water tastes good by itself, the resulting brewed tea will also have a good flavor. Because a brewed cup of tea is mostly water, the quality of the water is often as important as the quality of the tea leaves. The water must be free of contaminants and minerals and contain enough oxygen to enhance the natural tea flavor. Moreover, there are a number of additional factors that will affect the taste of the infusion. These include water temperature, the mineral content of the water used and the continued presence of a sufficient quantity of oxygen in the water.
If one is using tap water, filtration is often required. Many tap water suppliers use chlorine to kill bacteria and chlorine in tap water combined with mineral and chemical deposits can significantly affect tea taste and the tea drinker’s overall health. The brewer will want to remove chlorine and other chemicals as well as sediment from the water. It is best to check the composition of tap water on EPA or AMWA websites. Frequently there are also local water quality analysis data available.
Chlorinated tap water for example destroys the flavor of tea. No matter how skillful the preparation or spectacular the tea, bad water will make a bad cup of tea.
Most experts recommend that one never boil water for a prolonged period or re-boil a previously used supply. The more that the water boils, the more oxygen that is driven out of the water .When water is boiled, oxygen evaporates, and the crisp taste in the brew is lost..
Fresh cold water is important. In areas with poor tap water, use bottled or filtered water that is free of contaminants. Never use water from the hot water tap. If only tap water is available, run the water until it is cold and has a chance to aerate and infuse oxygen.
Poor quality tap water, containing mineral content and other contaminants, even if it is very cold, should be avoided since its chemical treatment imparts undesirable flavors and odors which interfere with the delicate aromatics of tea.
Mineral Content – Soft vs. Hard Water
Water described as “hard” is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. These minerals accumulate in the water, adversely affect the taste and clarity of the tea and accumulate in teapots and infusers. Teas brewed with pure water containing no minerals produce a crisp flavor and a clear brew that is aesthetically agreeable.
Hard water can also affect the appearance of tea by making it dark and murky. Hard water often results in an undesirable chalky taste and can also reduce the aesthetic portion of the tea brewing process by bleaching the color of the leaves.
High mineral content bottled water has the same negative impact on tea as hard water particularly when bottled water does not include significant oxygen.
Oxygen and Water
Oxygen plays an important role in brewing because it helps to release the best flavors of tea. As a result, one must use water that is aerated (full of oxygen).It is an established fact that the presence of oxygen in water is required to maximize tea flavor. Aeration is particularly important when brewing fine teas.
Avoid re-heating water because previously boiled water will have lost much of its dissolved oxygen which is important to bring out the tea flavor Always use freshly drawn water that has not previously been boiled to maximize the oxygen content of the brew.
Water Quality, Purity and Taste for Tea Drinkers in the United States
Historically, in China, great attention was give to supplying high quality water from a reliable source. The emperors of China appointed royal springs reserved for use in tea brewing and developed special messengers that would guarantee the freshness and availability of supply. This procedure was repeated throughout history and in other tea drinking areas of the world. Supply of water was an integral part of the tea experience.
In the United States utilizing a pure water supply is also critical to proper brewing but the water supply generally comes form one of three sources: Municipal water, spring and well water and bottled water.
Municipal water is the predominant form of water supply and is controlled by standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is important to note that EPA Regulations do not eliminate the presence of harmful minerals from water but merely set upper limits on the presence of contaminants. In addition, chlorine is often added to municipal water to kill bacteria but this chlorine has a distinctly undesirable taste.
Spring and well water are a major source of water in rural areas but it is unregulated and subject to serious contamination from organic, chemical and human sources. Individual wells and springs must be tested to determine the source and level of contamination.
Purified water means that all minerals and contaminants are filtered and removed from the water using a purification process but that is only the first step. For tea brewing purposes purified water must also be infused with oxygen to guarantee the best flavor. Only those companies that use a multi-step process of filtration, purification and oxygenation should be considered as a reliable source for the brewing of good tasting fine tea.
There’s been lots of health-hype lately surrounding the benefits of green tea. I’m certain you’ve heard it, too. Have you ever wondered: “Is it really worth my while to drink tea of the green variety?” Stick around and decide for yourself.
First: The Claims:
A rich source of anti-oxidants:
What are anti-oxidants? Anti-oxidants neutralize “free radicals” or unstable molecules in the body that can eventually become unfriendly and wreak havoc on the cells. Free radical damage can cause everything from sun damage to hardening of the arteries. Green tea will help you bulk up on the anti-oxidant warriors that help to both lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease by controlling blood pressure.
Green tea has been shown to lower rates of cancer in Asian populations. The cancers studied and which have been recorded include: bladder, colon, esophagus, pancreas, rectal and stomach. New evidence suggests green tea may also help prevent prostate cancer, as well.
Help with arthritis:
Studies also suggest there is possible anti-inflammatory and arthritis preventing effects in green tea although, I’ll admit, solid scientific evidence was difficult to come by. By simple suggestion, I’ll give green tea an A for effort in the arthritis category.
Green tea has been proven to protect liver cells by stimulating the immune system. Green tea protects the liver by warding off toxins such as alcohol and cigarette smoke.
Green tea has been thought to promote oral health (although scientific proof was difficult to come by here, too). Green tea is supposed to work against bacteria, protecting teeth from cavities.
Here’s another benefit that will raise many an eyebrow. Several sources I found claimed that green tea may actually help to stimulate weight loss. Yes! Green tea contains polyphenols (molecule compounds) that actually help the body to burn weight and regulate both blood sugar and insulin levels.
The Bad News
What’s the bad news?
The only negative side effect I’ve found is the simple recorded cases of insomnia due to naturally occurring caffeine in green tea. It looks like there’s only 30-60mg in 6-8 ounces of tea, however. That’s less than half the caffeine content of coffee which weighs in at 90 mg. per 8 ounce cup.
Other FAQ’s About Green Tea:
How much green tea is enough to reap the benefits?
No one seems to be too sure about the answer to this question, either. Let’s be realistic – most people could easily drink 3-4 cups of green tea daily. This is a good round number and one that I came up with based on its frequency in the research studied. A suggestion: why not try replacing your usual cup of coffee with a clean dose of health?
Where to get a good cup of tea?
Check out your local grocery for my favorite: Lipton. There’s plenty of others, but I like the way Lipton aims to zip up green tea with variety. They even have a orange, passionfruit & jasmine flavor that’s de-lish!
If drinking tea really isn’t your thing, but you still want the benefits – no problem! Green tea is now available in capsule form, too. This could be as close as your local pharmacy. Check around.
In this scientist’s opinion, green tea is well worth your consideration. The simple speculation of benefits is enough to get excited about it. It’s easy to digest, tastes good and, hey, if it helps me with my goal of wellness and illness prevention, I’ll take ample tea time, any day!
Research for this article has been created through careful consideration of research and articles appearing on WebMD and though several working texts which include:
Balch, Phyllis A., CNC. Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2004.
Mabey, Richard. The New Age Herbalist. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Mindell, Earl, R.Ph., Ph.D. Herb Bible. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
Tierra, Michael L.Ac., O.M.D. The Way of Herbs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.