Tea for Stress: Caught up in Cortisol

Standard

Tea has long been known as a sort of meditative drink.

Focus and attention span are very relevant topics in our currently busy days and lives; often we bustle about so much that we are doomed to forget the simple joys of just sitting and thinking, perhaps, yes indeed, with a cup of tea in hand. Tea is neither a boisterous nor abrasive drink, but instead is good at promoting alertness, a sense of calm and relaxation.

Perhaps we could stress a little less if we all took that ten minutes, every so often, to sit down, close our eyes, and drink up that warm, beautiful taste.

In any case, I’d like to take a moment to talk about a hormone called cortisol. As many of you may already know (especially those of you involved in sciences to do with the human brain and body, or who have suffered from an anxiety disorder), cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. Your body releases cortisol in stressful situations to help you deal with the problem; for instance, it will cause a function called gluconeogenesis, which increases your current blood sugar so that you have more energy to work with than in normal situations. It also gives you the typical “stressful” mental state.

However, our current lives are a breeding ground for cortisol, and as anyone with an anxiety disorder will tell you, too much stress is never any fun. Excess anxiety can both be caused by and result in cortisol release, and once in this state even small events can cause distress. Many Westerners who have no such disorder still present higher levels of stress than they should, simply because of the current complexity and speed of the western lifestyle.

Now, here’s something interesting; several studies have shown that tea, both green and black, can help reduce cortisol production in stressful situations. Although the affect is minimal, every bit of reduced cortisol production can benefit those that suffer from having too much of the hormone, and should be considered.

This affect, however, may not even be tea’s greatest asset towards stress reduction. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, tea is a meditative, zen-like drink. Meditation, or at the very least quiet reflection, has shown to be helpful in people suffering from anxiety, and tea is the perfect drink to promote both of these. The caffeine in tea helps keep the mind alert, while the action of drinking keeps you from annoying, distracting actions like fidgeting.

Maybe it’s time you sat down and took a step back from life?

Advertisements

Longing for an Oolong

Standard

Oolongs are an interesting breed of tea.

Many tea drinkers have only heard of “Black” tea, “Green” tea, and herbals, as that is simply what is stocked most commonly on the supermarket shelves. But there’s another extremely viable, extremely delicious form of tea that everyone should appreciate at least once in their lives: oolong tea.

Oolong teas are a vibrant in-between of green tea and black tea, offering qualities of both but never reaching either’s extremes. The reasoning for this lies in the process used to create oolong teas.

When the camellia sinensis (tea) leaves are picked off the bush, they are subjected to a process that gradually (or sometimes very rapidly) increases the oxidation levels in the leaves. Green tea is usually described as unoxidised or very lightly oxidised; typically the levels are very low or non-existent. Black tea, on the other hand, has been fully oxidised, which gives it its blackened colour and fuller taste.

So where does this leave oolong tea?

Oolong tea is right in the middle of green tea and black tea on the oxidation chart. It encompasses a wide range of oxidation percentages and can have more characteristics of green tea, or more characteristics of black tea, as a result. Typically, increasing the oxidation level of a tea will lower its catechin count and increase its caffeine levels.

Taiwan and China are especially famous for their oolong teas, and produce a large range for consumers to pick through. Some are among the most highly revered teas in the world.

Exhibitor Registration – Melbourne Tea Fair

Standard

Exciting news regarding the 2014 Melbourne Tea Fair – Exhibitor Registration is now open! You can download your Exhibitor Registration Form and Exhibitor Information Package from our website, at http://australianteamasters.com.au/blog/melbourne-tea-fair

Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity! Exhibitor registration closes on July 18, 2014.

Matcha – But Not Traditionally

Standard

Matcha is an interesting and somewhat different type of tea that you may encounter. Derived from Japan, matcha is green tea powder.  Traditionally it has been used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony for years, and continues to be to this day.

In present times the popularity of this tea with the rest of the world has skyrocketed, with matcha being well-distributed amongst many other world-famous teas in both tea houses and markets. However, its current popularity can be seen most clearly at its origin in Japan, which has spawned an entire selection of matcha-related and flavoured products. Matcha has been put into all sorts of things, the least of which is featured below:

Macaroons

Pound Cake

Pancakes

Ice-cream

KitKats

Matcha is very interesting, as you can mix it into just about anything to give the food a different flavour, and not to mention a health boost. If you’ve already discovered the wonders of combining matcha with food, why not tell us what you made, and what you thought of it?

No Cup Like Home

Standard

If you are lucky enough to explore the world, why not explore the world of tea? There are so many different types of teas you can try. I don’t mean just black, green, puerh, oolongs or white teas (or even yellow, blue or red teas). Try a first or second flush Darjeeling from India, a high grown tea from Ceylon, silver tips from China or an oolong from Taiwan.

Try to avoid flavoured teas as they don’t allow you to taste the real essence of tea you are trying. Each tea has it’s own natural flavour profile.   Next time you go for something new, close your eyes and inhale the smell of the dry leaf, and then the wet. Drink in the aroma of the steaming cup of choice before you taste it. What can you smell? Do you notice any stone fruits or a nutty roasted flavour? Is it sweet or savoury? Now taste it. Does it taste the same as it smells?

If you are feeling adventurous, try a tea type you have never tried. On a recent trip to Europe I discovered a white Darjeeling – the flavour was so delicate with hints of peach and the leaves were downy and soft. It was so refreshing and light but full-bodied at the same time if that could be possible. It was wonderful to try something new. Discover your own new favourites. Or if you’d prefer to stick to something similar to what you are used too, perhaps just go for another type of black tea. How about a Keemun, Assam, Nilgiri or Yunnan?

Having discovered several new teas on my travels, it was even more delightful to come home to my usual daily cup.

Hint: Next time when you are out and about I encourage you to try something different. Ask for a loose leaf, and go for something you wouldn’t normally have. It makes your favourite cup of tea at home all the more special.

 

Words and image contributed by Tea Master, Suzi van Middelkoop from Tea by the Sea.

Visit our website!   instagram   twitter logo   FB-fLogo-online

The World Tea Expo

Standard

The World Tea Expo is an annual event that no one in the North American tea world should miss. One of the largest tea expos in the world and with perhaps the largest range of tea exhibitors anywhere, this exhibition serves a tea industry that currently has a net worth of $8 billion – a number that is only expected to continue growing.

Exhibitors will include a wide range of tea suppliers and vendors, while many attendees themselves are looking to profit from the retail side of tea, and serve a large variety of different kinds of businesses. Even more exciting is the fact that many exhibitors – up to 30% – do not exhibit their teas in any other tea fair or exhibition in the world. Quite possibly the only time you will have to trial their newest and greatest blends will be at this expo.

You can find more information on this incredible event at http://www.worldteaexpo.com/

World Tea Expo - Pic 1

Visit our website!   instagram   twitter logo   FB-fLogo-online

The Tea Flavour Wheel

Standard

What you see above is the official Australian Tea Masters Tea Wheel. It is used in all of our professional tea tastings as well as many of our classes.

This tea wheel is free for you to use, reblog, and distribute (as long as the picture remains unaltered and the watermarks remain in-tact). You can use it to help divine the flavour notes of teas – one of the principle goals of tea tasting. We encourage you to try it for yourself! An experienced taster will get more out of a drink, able to distinguish between notes the untrained tongue could never divine.

Why not print off a few copies and have a tea-tasting session with your friends? Who knows what you might find out about teas you’ve drunk all your life but never particularly thought twice about? Who knows what you might find in teas you’ve never tried before?

Visit our website!   instagram   twitter logo   FB-fLogo-online