Stress Relief Steeped In Hand-Blended Tradition
By Angela Macke, R.N
Light of Day Organics®
(TRAVERSE CITY, MICH)—February 27, 2019— We are symbiotic, remarkable and thoughtfully created beings. Our body, mind, and spirit operate in tandem. So when we are under stress, our entire state of well-being is potentially affected. Our body releases sympathetic chemicals that raise our blood pressure, make our heart race, and cause our breathing rate to change in response to its current demands. It’s important to learn ways to keep our response to stress in check to help prevent damage and to restore balance, so that we aren’t paying an exorbitant price in terms of our health and happiness.
Everyone has their own “M.O.” of maintaining balance in their life and in responding to stress. Some people take vacations, some people volunteer at their favorite charity, and some people exercise, but this tea lover’s favorite way to stay grounded is found in the age-old, soothing rite of sipping a nice ‘cuppa hot tea. Tea has become a very personal statement about the way I choose to approach my life. This five-minute ritual has served as a safe harbor for me in the rough seas of everyday life. I use it to celebrate the simple things in life, to remind myself to slow down a bit, to be fully present in the moment, to relax, and to surrender my will to the natural rhythms and currents of life. This ritual of tea literally reminds me to just enjoy the ride… and go with the flow a little less reluctantly.
When you consider all the various stress relief options out there—from powerful prescription drugs to supplemental light therapy—tea really is the perfect beverage for our world today…it’s calming, restorative, soothing, beautiful, and healthy.
Customers are always asking which tea is my favorite, and to be honest, I mix it up! I drink certain teas for specific needs…Leelanau Licorice if I’m feeling run down, Whites and Greens every morning to hydrate, nourish and liven me up, a bowl of warm Matcha Memoirs to unwind and renew mid-day, Blacks to accompany a rich meal or a late morning pick me-up, Chamomile, Tulsi, or Rooibos-based blends in the evening, such as “Rest Assured”, “Heartwarming Cinnamon” “Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos”, or “Relaxation Blend” to induce a good night’s rest.
The ritual of taking Tea is one that our ancestors from around the world have turned to for centuries in hopes of achieving optimal health and longevity. In fact, tea was well-known and readily available long before the time of Christ. We know that tea was used as a trade item and was even given as a tribute to the Emperors as far back as 1066 BC. The historical and health “pearls” on the subject of tea seem are countless. Take, for instance, the following passage from a 12th century Japanese monk named Eisai who stressed the beneficial effects of tea in his book, Maintaining Health by Drinking Tea (1211):
“Tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. Tea has extraordinary power to prolong life. Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long life will follow. In ancient and modern times, tea is the elixir that creates the mountain dwelling immortal.”
It is clear from this passage that tea was already valued as a powerful medication centuries ago.
The popularity of tea has continued to grow over the years. Today, tea is the second most widely consumed drink in the world, exceeded only by water. Perhaps, this is because in most cases today, just as in ancient times, tea is safer to drink than water because it is boiled first, killing any disease-carrying bacteria. In the US, tea ranks #6 in popularity, proceeded by water, soda, coffee, beer and milk.
You too, can carry on the tradition of tea drinking for optimum health and vitality by brewing your very own perfect cup of tea at home using the following process:
6 STEPS TO MAKING THE PERFECT CUP OF TEA:
These simple techniques will help make the difference between a good cup and a great cup of tea:
1) Clean Equipment: While this seems obvious, check to be sure your teapot and utensils are clean. Tea ware such as kettles, teapots, cups, infusers and other tea accessories need to be gently washed regularly with soap or baking soda to remove mineral deposits and residue that can alter the flavor of your delicate brew.
2) Always Use Fresh, Cold Water. Since tea is primarily comprised of water (99%), the quality of the water you use will dramatically affect the clarity, aroma and taste of your beverage. So, if you begin with water that tastes good to you, your tea will hopefully taste even better to you. Most professionals in the tea industry state that, “the best type of water to use when brewing tea is filtered or bottled water (not distilled water) that is free of chemicals and chlorine.” This Northern Michigan tea professional with a fastidiously clean well, will tell you that uncontaminated well water, loaded with beneficial minerals, is the way to go. If that isn’t available, and you are using municipal tap water, run your faucet for approximately 10 seconds and until the tap water is cold before filling your tea kettle to boil the water. Cold tap water is always fresher than hot water because it hasn’t been sitting in the hot water heater. Bring the water to a rolling boil, and remove it from the burner just after it comes to a rolling boil, since prolonged boiling releases additional oxygen from the water and can result in the tea tasting a bit flat or stale.
3) Water and Steeping. For each “cup” (6 ounces is considered a “cup” in the tea and coffee industry) you will want to heat 6 ounces of water. So if you are making a pot of tea, pre-measure the amount of water the pot holds. The water temperature and length of steeping time varies by the blend of tea. Here are some general tea brewing guidelines for water temperature and steeping times. Adjust the heat and time based on your individual preferences. The time it takes to brew tea correlates with the size of the leaf in your blend. This means the larger the leaf is, the longer the brewing time. Also, herbal teas with woody ingredients (such as Cinnamon bark, or Cardamom seeds, for example) need a longer steeping time to fully hydrate them and release their flavors See the chart below highlighting the recommended steeping times and temperatures for different types of tea.
Recommended steeping times and temperatures.
|TYPE OF TEA||RECOMMENDED STEEPING TEMP.||RECOMMENDED STEEPING TIME|
|Black||205-212 F||3-5 Min.|
|Oolong||185-200 F||3-5 Min.|
|Green||165-185 F||3-5 Min.|
|White||160-175 F||2-3 Min.|
|Herbal/Tisanes||205-212 F||5-7 Min|
4) How much tea should I use? The industry standard is to use 2 grams (about the weight of a U.S. dime or 1 level teaspoon) of whole leaf tea for each 6-ounce cup you are brewing. For more voluminous blends (such as a very voluminous and fluffy Chamomile/ or Raspberry Leaf-based Tisane), consider using up to two tablespoons per serving. Remember, it’s YOUR cup of tea…so use as much or as little as you would like to suit your taste preference.
5) Infusing the Loose Leaves. For optimal taste, many purists testify that it is preferable to brew loose tea leaves right in the water (and strain it before drinking). This busy Mom, Nurse and Farmer prefers to simply use a gold infuser basket infuser right from the start. The point is just to choose an infuser large enough to give the tea leaves plenty of “elbow room” for expansion. Confining the tea leaves to a tiny tea ball or bag inhibits full “agony of the leaves”…an expression referring to the process when the carefully preserved, rolled tea leaves make contact with the swirling water around them, allowing the leaves to fully re-open and release all their flavor, thereby creating the very best cup of tea possible.
If you prefer commercial tea bags, simply use one tea bag for every 6 ounce cup of tea you are making. The grade of tea used in the majority of commercially-produced bags is typically comprised of small broken pieces of leaves, or “fannings”, and is susceptible to becoming stale faster than properly stored whole-leaf varieties. This is due to the larger surface area of broken leaves and greater exposure to oxygen. This inferior quality tea may result in a bitter cup of tea.
6) Serving. When your tea is done steeping, immediately remove the tea from its contact with the water, and lightly stir.
Depending on your taste preference, you might enjoy drinking your beverage plain or with a bit of lemon, honey, maple syrup or sugar. This R.N discourages the addition of dairy products to tea due to potential decrease in the absorption of antioxidants (Tea catechins) when dairy (Casein-containing) products are added.
Remember, true quality is judged in the cup… and since it’s your cup of tea…enjoy it as you please.
Angela is a Specialty Tea Institute graduate, a Co-op America Green Partner, an Advanced Master Gardener, a member of the U.S. Tea Association, and a licensed importer of Fair trade certified agricultural commodities. She is also a nationally recognized speaker and tea educator. Angela, an honors graduate of Western Michigan University, and Bronson School of Nursing in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was named Environmentalist of the Year for Business in 2007. Her business was also selected as a Michigan Small Business of the Year (2008-2009). Angela continues to blend original specialty Teas and Tisanes not available in the general marketplace, while educating about the wonderful world of "Cha-Do" with a creative, highly enjoyable and memorable grassroots style. Light of Day Organics just celebrated six years of business by opening a tea shop on their Traverse City, Michigan farm located at 3502 E. Traverse Highway (M-72 W.). For those who are unable to visit the on-farm retail store, Light of Day Organics offers a diverse online catalogue at (www.lightofdayorganics.com) with offerings to suit every tea lover’s taste. If you would like any additional information please contact Angela Macke via e-mail at: Angela@LightOfDayOrganics.com
Angela Mary Macke RN, BS, has over 20 years of experience as a holistic nurse and horticulturalist. In 2004, she established Light of Day Organics, a popular small batch certified organic tea farm in Leelanau County. Angela is one of few practitioners specializing in homeopathic and energy-based Biodynamic Agricultural practices. These physically, mentally, and spiritually intensive efforts enhances soil vitality, botanical quality, and the interconnected life of which each of us is an essential part. She passionately teaches about the importance of preventing chronic diseases and decreasing inflammation in the body. Angela believes that by eliminating physical and emotional suffering, that the human being is best supported in their expansion to their full potential. With the benefit of her own life experience from disease to wellness, she shares a wealth of information on the practical implementation of holistic principles. Angela is a licensed Registered Nurse, and holds certifications as a Specialty Tea Institute Graduate, Advanced Master Gardener and Mentor, Biofeedback technician and Healing Touch Program practitioner. Professional Memberships: American Holistic Nurses Association, U.S Tea Association, U.S League of Tea Growers, Biodynamic Association, Michigan Food and Farming Association, Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association, United Plant Savers, Michigan State Medical Society Alliance, Traverse City and Leelanau County Chambers of Commerce, Michigan Food and Farming Alliance, Traverse City Tourism Association, and The Michigan Agri-tourism Association. She is a dynamic speaker with a thorough understanding of alternative and conventional therapies. Angela is committed to igniting inspiration and hope in our individual abilities to improve and maintain our whole-body health.