A Spot of Tea for the Holiday

Ann Bartlett Health Guide


    The December holidays are always challenging! Between the increase in demand at my office, gift purchases of massage, yoga and product and the personal gift giving, card-sending hurdles, etc., it’s no wonder that Christmas day rolls around I don’t want to get out from under the covers!



    I love teaching stress management, and most of the year I’m doing exactly what I need to do for my health. December stress is a reminder that I need to be more diligent in treating myself well! While standing in one of my favorite stores for self-care, I realized it was a perfect gift to give my friends, family and clients as well. My gift was to give a cup of tea! Tea is a great gift to be given to and from someone who lives with diabetes.

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    My opinion is that what we consume affects us, and for people living with chronic illness sometimes with more punch. Education gives us choices and therefore I like to study everything that involves my health, including food and drink! So I would like to share some of what I wrote for each gift bag about the essentials of tea.



    Tea Knowledge


    Green tea and black tea are derived from the same plant. Tea leaves are harvested green. To achieve a variety of taste profiles, manufacturers carefully control whether, and for how long, tea leaves are exposed to air and moisture, a process called fermentation. When fermentation is completely arrested, tea leaves stay green. When fermentation is long, the leaves darken and become black tea. Somewhere in between these two extremes, oolong tea was created.



    White tea and green tea share the same health benefits. Green tea gets hype for having more antioxidants, but it is not more antioxidants that green offers. Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, protects itself from photosynthetic stressors by forming chemicals called polyphenols. Research on polyphenols show that it gives the human body an extra boost of antioxidants. Green tea has a polyphenol compound called catechin that has been shown to help reduce the size of cancer tumors.


    Another recent study showed that for men, one cup of green tea a day means better prostate health! The polyphenols are so strong that green tea needs to be avoided by those seeking to get pregnant, but ladies share it with your partner for their good health!


    White tea is made from immature tea leaves that are picked shortly before the buds have fully opened. Because of its short harvest period, white tea is more expensive, which is why for centuries only Chinese royalty enjoyed it.



    Oolong Tea has been researched to show weight reduction and lower LDL levels. Oolong’s quality is that it enhances fat oxidation. The USDA is doing further studies on oolong and heart health because of the promising preliminary study. Based on these studies, Oolong would be beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes.



    Black tea offers anti-oxidant help but does not contain the catechins of green tea. Black tea has more complex varieties of flavonoids called thearubigins and theaflavins, which are shown to be beneficial to heart health. Black tea is the most consumed of all the varieties of tea.


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    Translated, Rooibosch tea means "red bush" and is primarily grown in South Africa. This red, flavorful tea has been used medicinally, is naturally caffeine-free and is a great diaphoretic, helping to eliminate toxins through the sweat -- kind of like an ingested sauna. Rooibosch is sweet in flavor.



    Tisanes are fruit teas. I love Peach Tisane and Ruby Sipper. Ruby sipper is blood orange, pear, apple and hibiscus. Most Tisanes are combinations of flowers and fruit. Tisanes are simmered for 7 to 10 minutes on the stove. While they are sweet, I find that if I add a spoon coated in honey (a skinny amount) or a small squeeze of stevia, it brightens the flavor. Great for after dinner and often my form of dessert!



    For me, I feel a difference when I drink tea instead of coffee. I feel less acid in my stomach and less jittery. My energy stays more consistent over the course of the day.


    If you are considering a tea gift, you can go to teaforte, which has artisan style tea accoutrements, fabulous designs and wonderful tea. I use a local tea store near me that has long tall shelves of fresh tea, cups with infusers built in, teapots and fine mesh strainers for rooibosch teas. I could spend days in tea and coffee education and sampling! These boutique, one-of-a-kind stores are your most reliable resource for fresh tea and lots of flavors and tips. My local hangout is Old Town Tea and Spice.



    Got your cup of tea ready?


Published On: December 21, 2007