Is Caffeine Healthy?

Although people often use the phrase “herbal tea”, herbal blends are plants other than the tea plant. The technically-correct term for these drinks is “herbal infusion”.

All tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, a species of evergreen shrub or small tree which naturally produces caffeine. The plants use caffeine to paralyze and kill predator insects feeding on them. Thankfully the effects are different on humans!

Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that prevents drowsiness by reversibly blocking adenosine from its receptors. It also stimulates certain portions of the autonomic nervous system.

Caffeine can be used to stay alert, and can even protect against some diseases, including Parkinson’s. However in some people it can disrupt sleep and cause anxiety. You may need to limit your intake depending on your health needs. Be sure to ask your doctor about whether caffeine is right for your body.

Whether you’re switching to a caffeine-free alternative for health reasons or simply finding something tasty to drink in the evenings, we have several naturally caffeine-free infusions to suit your fancy.

Herbal Blends: Healthy Harmony Series

Harmony Herbal Teas
Our Harmony herbal series features infusions that calm, balance, and restore.

Herbal infusions can contain one or more plants. We like to blend several in our Healthy Harmony herbal infusions to balance flavors and maximize health benefits.

  • Calming Harmony blends vanilla and chamomile with lemon balm, lemongrass and passionflower for a flavor reminiscent of a lemon dreamscicle.
  • Healthy Harmony mixes immune-boosting echinacea with the robust flavors of elderberry, ginger, and lemonbalm, and the mellowing sweetness of licorice root.
  • Restoring Harmony helps you detox using a subtle note of peppermint with floral tones of calendula and lavender over the vegetal quality of dandelion and nettles.
Rooibos leaves
Rooibos is often called “red bush tea”.

Rooibos

This plant, also known as red tea or red bush tea, has been consumed for centuries in southern Africa and is slowly becoming a staple in North America. Rooibos and its cousin honeybush have a sweet taste and contain powerful antioxidants that may protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Like the tea plant, rooibos leaves are often fermented, which turns them and their liquor a reddish-brown color. Unfermented rooibos is called green rooibos, and has a lighter, grassier flavor. Either red or green rooibos will provide numerous health benefits.

Tisanes and More

Ginger Sweet Orange Tisane
Taste the warmth of ginger, the citrus of tangerine, the sweetness of licorice root, and a touch of tart hibiscus with our Ginger Sweet Orange Tisane.

A sweet alternative to herbal infusions are fruit tisanes, which contain bits of dried fruit that lend their tastes and micronutrients to your brew. Our Bright Berry, Pina Colada, and Ginger Sweet Orange go over ice well, too.

In the evenings when it’s time to wind down, Eastern Chamomile or Lavender Flower Infusion can help you relax and get to sleep. They are both distinct in taste but share a similar light, soothing sweetness.

It’s easy to make herbal infusions part of a healthy daily routine. Let us know how you incorporate them.

6 Teas that May Affect Your Heart

It’s February, and we’re well into the new year and American Heart Month. Are you holding strong with your resolutions to get healthier by drinking tea, or do you need a little nudge? We’ve got some good information to aid your motivation; in addition to being a low calorie replacement for soda, some of the chemicals in tea can have lasting heart health benefits when used properly.

If you’re a regular tea drinker, mention this to your doctor during your regular visits. Remember to consult a physician before you make any big changes to your diet. Stimulants like caffeine can trigger heart arrhythmias in some people; if you notice palpitations or a rapid heartbeat, stop drinking the beverage and contact your doctor.

Let’s talk about how six teas can affect your heart.

Black Tea: The Good and the Bad

Black tea contains polyphenols (micronutrients packed with antioxidants) which may improve or help treat digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases. It also contains flavonoids. “Flavonoids, like other antioxidants, corral cell-damaging free radicals and metallic ions… Scientists have found that certain flavonoids have antihistamine, antimicrobial, memory- and even mood-enhancing properties,” Erik Strand says in Psychology Today.

If you’re a coffee drinker trying to cut down on the amount of caffeine you consume, black is the tea for you. It has strong flavors but roughly only a third as much caffeine as coffee.  You should also use caution when taking commonly prescribed blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin), since black tea may decrease blood clotting and increase your chances of bruising and bleeding.

Recommended Tea: Keemun 1st Grade Black Tea

Green Tea: Get Rid of Plaque and Maintain Your Weight

Green tea has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in clinical studies. In a Japanese study, scientists found it might also lower your risk of heart disease and death from heart attacks or strokes.

Green tea also contains the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which can help prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries. “The EGCG can [also] help boost metabolism, helping to make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, and author of Belly Fat for Dummies.

Recommended Tea: Sencha Fukamushi Green Tea

White Tea: Increase Your Circulation

White tea has similar health benefits to green tea, and may even boost your immune system. It contains flavonoids which dilate arteries and thin the blood, lowering blood pressure, and reducing bad cholesterol. Because of this, white tea might not only help protect your heart, it might benefit your entire circulatory system.

Recommended Tea: Fujian Silver Needles White Tea

Oolong Tea: Lower Your Blood Pressure

Because oolong tea is oxidized more than green tea, but less than black tea, it shares some of the health benefits. It also may decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

Recommended Tea: Milk Oolong Tea

Chamomile Tea: Relax and Stay Alive

According to researchers at The University of Texas, chamomile tea may reduce the risk of death from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. This difference was especially prominent among women, whose death rate dropped by 29%!

In addition, chamomile has been known to reduce menstrual pain, lower blood sugar, prevent osteoporosis, and many more benefits. Be sure to mention it to your doctor if you interested in starting or continuing to drink chamomile, since it can interact with some medications.

Recommended tea: Eastern Chamomile Herbal Tea

Ginseng Tea: Help with Heart Disease and Everything else.

Like teas and chamomile, ginseng has been known to treat a wide variety of symptoms:  cancerheart diseasefatigueerectile dysfunctionhepatitis Chigh blood pressure. Taking an extract of ginseng may help prevent the common cold

Recommended tea: Ginseng Oolong Tea

Let us know what you drink and why in the comments below.

Sources:

Recipes To Enjoy The Health Benefits Of Matcha

Grown in the shade, Matcha tea retains a beautiful green color along with an incredible amount of nutrients, including antioxidants, fiber, amino acids, and chlorophyll. It is said that Matcha can calm your mind, boost energy and metabolism, detoxify, and help prevent heart disease.
Matcha Latte

Traditional Matcha Latte
Bring 1.5 cups unsweetened milk of your choice (almond, cashew, coconut or hemp milk are great) to a bare simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat. Optional: melt one teaspoon coconut oil or butter in the milk. Turn the heat off.
Add one teaspoon Matcha to a mug and slowly whisk in 2 teaspoons heated milk (use regular whisk or a special bamboo Matcha whisk) to form a paste. Add the rest of the warm, tipping cup slightly to help create foam. Sweeten with maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar to taste. You can also use an electric milk frother for a nice foamy texture.

Cold Matcha Green Tea
A cold Matcha green tea is by far the most refreshing ways to drink Matcha and this is great for when you’re on the go. Depending on the size of your water bottle you’ll need to use either half a teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of Matcha to mix in with the water. Most water bottles/shakers are 500ml/17.5oz and so with this amount of water you’d need to use 1 teaspoon of matcha. If you find that’s too bitter you can of course use less.

Keep it simple by adding half a lemon chopped up into small chunks and a handful of mint leaves but you can experiment with lime and other fruits.

Basic Green Tea Smoothie

If you’re new to green tea smoothies, try this simple one first.

Ingredients: 1 cup Almond milk or coconut milk or cow’s milk, 5 Ice cubes, one banana and one teaspoon of Matcha tea.

Instructions: Slice the banana into one-inch pieces. Blend the banana pieces and ice cubes first. Add the milk and green tea powder to the blender and blend until smooth.

Bedtime Teas

Bedtime TeasIf tossing and turning into the small hours of the morning has become your nightly routine, you might want to test out some tea remedies to help both your health and your sleep.

Many people find that drinking something warm before bed as a part of their routine helps them to relax and bring on sleep much easier.

There are a variety of caffeine-free tea options available. Rooibos is a herbal infusion made from a South African herb that contains polyphenols and flavonoids. Often called “African redbush tea,” Rooibos delivers potential health benefits with each caffeine-free sip. Try our vanilla bean and chai flavors for a real rooibos treat!

Honeybush is a sibling of Rooibos, cultivated in South Africa’s Eastern Cape region. Its flowers smell of honey, earning this plant a sweet name. Some people actually do find that they have a soporific effect from Honey Bush.

There are also a number of herbs that many people have found to have a positive affect on sleep. Some of the more common sleepy time herbs are chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower.

Bedtime TeasIn the U.S., chamomile is best known as an ingredient in herbal tea. Chamomile relaxes the nerves, calms the stomach, and can give you a great night of sleep.

Passionflower was first grown and used by Native Americans, and similar to many plant based remedies, Passionflower has proven anti-anxiety benefits and has been known to cause less drowsiness than other anxiety remedies.

Lemon Balm is a citrusy and fresh scented herb. It is very prolific and easily grown. Fresh or dried leaves are used. Lemon balm tea was known to have powers of longevity. Today the tea is taken to treat colds and flu, lower blood pressure and for insomnia and indigestion.

All three of these herbs are found in our Calming Harmony, and we do carry a few different chamomile blends that are popular. Another herb that people find works for them is Valerian root. However, the Valerian Root is “heavier-hitting” and is known to have a very strong taste and smell.

Similar to Chamomile, Peppermint is a natural herbal tea that helps with distressing the body. This tea is great to drink the night before a big or stressful event. Peppermint tea soothes your stomach and relieves anxiety.

Although tea cannot be the magical remedy to solve all pain and suffering, it can definitely make life a lot more relaxed and rested.

Sweet Dreams!

(Note: Sleeping trouble can have many different causes. It always is a great idea to check with your doctor to rule out any health issues).

Coffee vs. Tea: Why Not Both?

By: Lauren

They say the world is divided into many diverse groups. Some of us prefer dogs to cats, snow to sun, meat to veggies, and coffee to tea. To be perfectly honest, I fell into the coffee drinker group until just recently. As I began to spend more of my time at The Tea Smith, I found myself preferring the taste of Cinnamon Sensation Rooibos and Matcha tea to my old standby- the triple tall Carmel Macchiato.

So is one drink really better than the other? And do you really have to choose one over the other?

Let’s start with coffee. If you’re like over half the adult population in the United States, you drink coffee everyday. Many coffee drinkers enjoy the taste. And for those who don’t, there are numerous variations – like sugar, milk, and syrups to disguise the flavor. Another reason people drink coffee is for a caffeine boost. Many people, myself included, swear by that first cup of coffee each morning.

Most regular coffee drinkers might argue their habit isn’t doing any harm to their bodies. In fact, they’ll point to reports touting the potential health benefits associated with coffee including: protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.

Please note- I am not suggesting that people start drinking coffee by the gallon. Too much of anything can be bad. The findings were based on black coffee. The same might not hold true for many of what I call “dessert-based” coffees that people consume.

I once read a quote from a nutritionist based at a London University who said “Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water.” Her premise is that water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.

Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water. Why? Because of its versatility: it can be drank cold or hot, and there are enough varieties of tea to suit just about any taste. (I’m going to guess that number is well over 2,000).

People also have been drinking tea for centuries because of its health effects. Research suggests drinking tea—particularly green tea—can fight diseases and even lengthen life. This is due to tea’s high concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols, which may contribute to the prevention of cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases. While polyphenols are also found in abundance in fruits, vegetables, and grains—and also coffee in even higher amounts—tea is especially and uniquely rich in particular types of polyphenols called catechins (specifically, EGCG) that may be the most powerful ones of all.

Purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The herbal ’teas’ or infusions, made from herbs, fruit, seeds or roots have lower concentrations of antioxidants. Their chemical make up varies depending on the plant used. Popular choices include—ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea.

Although many questions remain about how long tea needs to be steeped for the most benefit, and how much you should drink, nutritionists agree any tea is good tea. They do prefer brewed teas over bottled to avoid the extra calories and sweeteners.

Both coffee and tea contain virtually no calories when mixed with water. Many drinkers add sugar and/or cream for a sweeter flavor. The actual tea leaf or coffee bean is virtually calorie-less. With no fat, no sodium, and no carbs – where can you go wrong?

Both coffee and tea contain caffeine. Coffee has about twice as much as tea if you compare it cup to cup. Caffeine in reasonable amounts during the day is considered healthy for most people, as it helps accelerate the metabolism. Coffee has some B vitamins, potassium and other minerals while Tea is high in manganese, folate and potassium. Both add a bit of nutrient goodness to your daily mix.

The end conclusion is that you can derive benefits from drinking both coffee and tea.

So there you have it! And my next drink? A pumpkin spice latte from The Tea Smith!