Combating Stress And High Blood Pressure With Relaxing Tea

It has been well established that green tea can help people who want to lose weight and reduce their percentage body fat, and we all know that regular black tea is a great “pick-me-up” in the afternoon. But there is a whole world of different specialist herbal teas too, some of which are widely available (eg mint teas and chamomile) and others which are prescribed by herbalists to treat certain conditions.

My own experience with specialized teas began in my early thirties, when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, the result of a very stressful job I was doing at the time. I ended up going to a Chinese herbalist and asking for chrysanthemum tea because I had read that this was good for reducing hypertension symptoms. What they offered me at the herbalist’s was an unusual concoction called Jiang Ya Cha – or De-Stress Tea. It contained a series of different herbal ingredients, but was just like any other convenience product; it was even in a teabag, just like the teabags you get from the store.

Although chrysanthemum (or in Chinese, Ju Hua) is reportedly an excellent herb for reducing high blood pressure, what the herbalist was trying to achieve was a general state of relaxation. And so a selection of herbs, contained in the Jiang Ya Cha according to an ancient recipe, was a better choice. A case of treating the underlying causes rather than the symptoms.

Like many teas, this one was prepared by soaking the teabag in a cup of hot water for a few minutes, and then drinking without milk. I was told that I could sweeten it with a little honey if necessary, but I do not drink any of my teas or coffees with sugar.

So the question you are probably asking yourself is whether the tea worked. And perhaps also, if it wasn’t chrysanthemum what was in it? The answer to the first question is yes, it did work; but along with some tablets. The tablets were related and contained a different, though complementary, set of ingredients to the tea (the tablets were called Jiang Ya Pian, also referred to as Jiang Ya Wan).

The tea itself contained six primary herbs: motherwort, figwort root, yellow milk-vetch root, tangerine peel, cassia seed and hawthorn fruit. It is very interesting that in traditional Western herbalism, hawthorn is regarded as a good ingredient for controlling blood pressure. However, in Chinese medicine it is used more for stomach and digestive problems, though it does have some recognition for hypertension.

Let’s dissect the tea and see what makes it work. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), high blood pressure is usually regarded as being the result of “fire” or rising qi. You might hear it called a “flaring up of the liver fire” where the symptoms are felt in the head. For example, you might suffer from headaches, bloodshot eyes, a flushed face or tinnitus. Also included in the hypertension family in TCM are syndromes of yin-deficiency (of both liver and kidney yin), and syndromes of yang-hyperactivity due to underlying yin-deficiency.

To counteract these conditions, the De-Stress Tea, Jiang Ya Cha, does the following:

  • Motherwort (Yi Mu Cao) – has diuretic properties (similar to many pharmaceutical medicines for hypertension)
  • Figwort Root (Xuan Shen) – clears heat to drain fire symptoms
  • Yellow Milk-Vetch (sometimes called astralagus) root (Huang Qi) – tonifies qi
  • Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) – promotes downward movement of qi
  • Cassia Seed (Jue Ming Zi) – clears liver fire, and nourishes liver and kidney yin
  • Hawthorn Fruit (Shan Zha) – this is simply used for hypertension, as well as other non-related digestive symptoms
  • As you can see, most of the herbs contained within this Chinese medicinal tea have effects which address the fire symptoms, the upward movement of qi or the deficiency of liver and kidney yin. I was happy to have discovered this little gem, and it helped me to relieve stress after a hard day at work. These days, I am in a far less stressful job and do a huge amount of sport. Losing weight and keeping active have helped me to retain a normal blood pressure after the De-Stress Tea helped me get it down to normal levels in the first place. Who’d have thought the humble cuppa would have had such a life-changing effect!

    Guest post by: Neil TryAthlete, who enjoys green tea for its health benefits, and likes experimenting with other unusual teas having discovered their medicinal benefits first hand in the past. He is the editor and principle author at Triathonline, a blog about health and fitness.

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Using Green Tea Instead of Coffee

green tea instead of coffeeBillions of people around the world drink coffee regularly, and over half of American consume it daily. Coffee provides physical and mental energy that fuels the morning routines of those who use it. While there are some health benefits associated with coffee, there are also many issues, including headaches, anxiety, addiction and withdrawal, along with an increase in risk for certain diseases.

With all of the debilitating effects associated with coffee, it doesn’t make sense to take the risk for it. On top of the known and potential toxins in coffee, the continued use of caffeine can lead to chronic anxiety, jitters, and even depression.

A fantastic replacement for coffee is green tea. This unoxidized form of tea contains significantly less caffeine than coffee. In fact, you can avoid the caffeine entirely by utilizing the decaffeinated versions, which are even better. Of course, without that vital molecule, you might be wondering how green tea can supply energy. While green tea’s main purpose is not to provide energy, such a result is a secondary benefit from the antioxidants and other nutrients in green tea. Those nutrients are the real reason you should drink more green tea and not coffee, as the latter does not contain antioxidant concentrations at the levels found in green tea.

First and foremost, green tea is inherently invigorating, and its sweet flavor, comforting heat, and purity are more than enough to provide a morning boost. You will also be giving your body key nutrients to keep you energized and feeling good throughout the day, without the crash often experienced after drinking several cups of coffee. Since green tea can work just as well as coffee but is much healthier, it’s a clear choice about which one to go with.  If you have been drinking coffee for awhile, it might take a bit to get used to the less intense flavor of tea.  To help with your transition, you could also consider working your way down from black tea to green tea, but usually it is much easier to make a big change so you can see results fast, rather than losing motivation from not seeing change from smaller changes.

It does not take long to start feeling the benefits of green tea and becoming acquired to the taste, especially once you figure out what natural additives are best and most satisfying to mix in. Two factors hold people back from making this transition, including the belief that they cannot get enough energy from tea, as well as a perception that coffee is substantially more enjoyable.

However, tea really can taste even better and give you energy while relaxing you. By enhancing the drink with non-dairy creamers like hemp or almond milk, and mixing in organic sweeteners like honey, agave syrup, or stevia, you can give your tea even more nutritional power while making it taste absolutely delicious. Consider adding in cinnamon and vanilla extract for an additional burst of flavor and antioxidants (especially since cinnamon is so effective for maintaing blood sugar, which has its own set of benefits). With everything you can do with green tea, you should at least give it a chance and try to notice any improvements you may feel.

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Choosing Teapots for Loose Leaf Tea

choosing a teapotLoose-leaf tea is widely believed to produce the freshest, fullest flavoured tea but is often left aside in favour of teabags or seen as a treat, but using loose leaf tea is not as much effort as most people would believe. As long as you have the right teapot, and follow a few simple rules you can enjoy your favourite loose-leaf teas as often as teabags.

Brewing the Perfect Loose Leaf tea
The amount of tea you add to the pot is crucial, as it is the amount of tea you add to the pot not the steeping time that determines the strength of the tea. Different varieties vary greatly in strength so if you buy pre-packaged tea check the brewing instructions on the pack, or if you buy loose tea leaves try and ask the seller for their advice.
The pot should be warm before adding the tea leaves. The easiest way to warm the pot is to fill it with freshly boiled water and empty it just before making a new pot of tea. Although the water used for the tea should be freshly boiled, it is best to leave the water to cool slightly before adding it to the pot to avoid scorching the tea leaves and reducing the impact of the flavour.

Choosing the Right Teapot

Traditional Chinese and Japanese teapots were made of treated cast iron and could be used to boil water too. There are still many of these traditional style teapots made today, but check that they can be used on a burner as some are treated with chemicals to add patterns and designs. You will find they are smaller than a traditional English teapot, as they were used for only one or two people so if you are a family of tea drinkers, you may prefer to buy a pair.

Glass Teapots are very attractive, especially when brewing green or fruit tea, as you can watch the delicate infusing process, whilst stainless steel teapots are considered both practical and elegant and are often used in cafés and restaurants.

Porcelain and pot teapots are usually larger and come in a wide variety of patterns and designs making them perfect for families of tea-drinkers. They can be shaped to represent things like houses or animals or decorated with anything from the classic blue and white Chinese ‘Willow’ pattern to comical anecdotes and they are common collectibles.

Tea Strainers
When buying a teapot to use with loose-leaf tea, you also need to ensure that you can strain the leaves. There are three types of strainer that you may come across when shopping for teaware:

  • Integrated spout tea strainer. The best and most traditional tea pots feature a small mesh within the spout of the teapot. Leaves are allowed to circulate freely around the pot, but remain within the pot when the tea is poured. The full capacity of this teapot can be used, and all the water added can be poured and drank.

  • Removable strainer. These teapots feature a device which holds the tea in the water, almost like a makeshift tea-bag. Sometimes these come in the form of a cradle which sits on the top of the teapot with a basket reaching down into the pot. The water is poured over the leaves, and the leaves continue to infuse the water until the water level is lower than the basket reaches. Often this leaves an amount of water at the bottom that may not be as well infused.

  • Separate Strainers. Many teapots are now designed for teabags and do not come with a strainer. Several different types of strainers can therefore be used instead. Tea-balls can be filled with leaves and used in the pot or straight in the cup and float on the surface of the water. Other, similar strainers are attached to a chain which is left outside the pot and come in a range of shapes – great for gifts. Be careful though as these can sometimes cause the teapot lid not to sit flush to the pot. You can also use small tea-sieves which sit on the top of a cup, catching the leaves as you pour the tea. These leaves need not be wasted, just put them back in the teapot.

Alternatives to Teapots
There are alternatives to the traditional teapot including modern electrical tea-makers. These technical looking gadgets usually work like an all-in-one teapot and strainer. With a touch of the button the tea maker gradually infuses boiled water with the tea, which is held loosely in a basket. The basket either moves within the water or slowly drips infused tea into the pot, similar to the process of a filter coffee machine. These machines look very fancy and are great to impress guests, as the resulting tea is always perfectly brewed with little effort from you.

For examples of teapots, straining tools and other teaware available to buy online, visit the Barnitts Home and Garden website.

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The Health Benefits of Tea – Ancient and Modern

health benefits of teaThousands of years ago, drinking a cup of tea was only considered as an effective treatment for colds and other infectious diseases. However, due to the advancement made in the field of scientific research, experts discovered plenty of other wondrous benefits of tea. Some of the discoveries regarding the health benefits of tea are stated below:

Tea helps in boosting one’s immune system

Tea is one of the most famous beverages that help boost one’s immune system. This is because tea contains alkylamines which are also present in germs. As the person drinks tea, his body will learn to recognize alkylamines which can be used to fight against any germs. The more you drink tea, the more that your immune system will be exposed to germs. Studies reveal that the pre-existence of these germ cells in the body allow them the opportunity to find ways on how to destroy these disease-causing germs.

Tea is essential for the digestive system

Drinking several cups of tea enables your digestive system to work smoothly. Green tea contains anti-inflammatory properties that are responsible for the reduction of the adverse effects of Irritable Bowel Disease. In addition, studies reveal that there is also another variety of tea that helps in the smooth flow of the person’s digestive juices. Therefore, by drinking tea the person will less likely to have digestive problems.

Tea helps strengthen teeth

Many people think that the habit of drinking tea can weaken the teeth. But, this is not the case. It is when you add sugar to your tea that turns it into an acidic drink. In turn, the teeth will become brittle. However, if tea is being drunk naturally without any sugar added the person will have healthier set of teeth. It is because tea contains natural fluoride and tannins that prevent the formation of plaque in a person’s teeth.

Tea increases bone density.

A research conducted in the University of Western Australia has proven the claim that tea is indeed beneficial to the individual’s bone structure. However, more research is still needed to be done to be able to determine the ways in which tea increases bone density. But, several researchers agree that tea contains phytochemical such as flavanoids. These flavanoids which also contain estrogen-like properties are thought to be responsible for protecting the person against bone loss. There is enough proof to show that those women who drink several cups of tea as part of their daily habit have higher levels of bone density, compared to women who seldom drink tea.

Tea helps prevent heart disease

Studies have proven that drinking green tea improves the health of an individual’s delicate cell linings inside his blood vessels. It also helps in the prevention of clogged arteries. This is made possible as green tea improves the functioning of those endothelial cells. On the contrary, the weak functioning of endothelial cells can lead to clogged arteries.

In addition, tea also contains vitamin M which helps lower the risk of having cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin M helps prevent the growth of homocysteine which is known to be one of the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases.

Tea helps prevent cancer

Studies conducted at the University of Murcia in Spain revealed that tea helps prevent the growth of cancer cells. Researchers found out that tea contains EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate) that helps bind enzymes to stop the cancer cells from growing. Furthermore, scientists also discovered that EGCG contains a structure that is very much the same with cancer drug known as methotrexate. Researchers found out that EGCG and methotrexate works the same way in killing cancer cells.

Tea can reduce anxiety and stress

Tea contains theanine which empowers GABA to inhibit those feelings of excitement. Thus, the individual will become more relaxed. GABA also helps improve the production of serotonin and dopamine which are also known as “feel-good” hormones. These are the reasons why drinking a cup of tea helps ward off the.

Scientists and medical experts still continue with their studies in order to discover several other health benefits of tea. It is also important to know that there are different kinds of teas that one may choose to drink. Green, black, chamomile, and ginger tea are few examples of tea varieties. These different varieties of teas may provide different health benefits as well.

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