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:

Chinese Tea Eggs Recipe

Since tea was legendarily discovered in ancient China by Emperor Shen-Nung more than 2,000 years ago, it has evolved into the world’s most popular prepared drink. Celebrate its rich history with tea eggs.

The tea egg, also known as a marble egg, is a common Chinese snack food in which a boiled egg is cracked slightly and then boiled again in tea and sauce or spices.

Prep time: 24 hours
Cook time: 15 mins

This is an authentic Chinese recipe with a flavorful white and soft yolk.
Adapted from The Woks of Life.

Lapsang Souchong Chinese Black Tea Our Lapsang Souchong features balanced smoky undertones that are a welcome addition to Chinese tea eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 slices of ginger
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black tea leaves (We recommend Lapsang Souchong for a smoky flavor.)
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 7 cups water (deep enough so all eggs can submerge under liquid)

Instructions

  1. Bring the eggs to room temperature by leaving them out of refrigerator for a couple hours.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce base by adding the rest of the ingredients to a medium pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, and the turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat, open the lid, set it aside, and let it cool completely.
  3. Bring another pot of water to a boil for the eggs. Once boiling, gently and quickly lower the eggs into the boiling water using a large spoon. You want to avoid dropping them and cracking them on the bottom of the pot. Let the eggs cook in the boiling water for 7 minutes (it’s a good idea to set a timer). Once the timer goes off, turn off the heat, quickly scoop out the eggs, and transfer to an ice bath. Allow them to sit in the ice bath until they are completely cool to the touch. The purpose here is to stop cooking the eggs any further.
  4. Once the eggs are cooled, lightly crack the egg shells. The goal here is to make enough cracks to allow the flavor of the sauce base to seep into the egg. I like to use a small spoon to tap the eggs, but be careful! It you tap or crack too hard, you might crack open the egg since the egg yolk is still very soft.
  5. Soak the cracked eggs in your sauce base for 24 hours in the refrigerator, making sure all the eggs are completely submerged in the sauce base. After 24 hours, they’re ready! You can also soak them longer for a stronger flavor. These eggs last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Celebrating 15 Years of Tea and Community

Tim Smith pouring Tea

As 2019 begins, we are looking forward to the 15th anniversary of The Tea Smith! This time also give us pause to reflect on our Tea Journey for the past one and a half decades.

When we started out, we thought it was going to be all about the tea. To an extent, we were correct. We have had the opportunity to discover, taste, and share teas from all around the world. From large producers to small growers, each add their unique imprint on us and on our friends. We continue to be in awe of the amount of work and care it takes to produce even one pound of tea. Without their skill and knowledge, the tea world would be much less flavorful and intriguing.

But as The Tea Smith has grown, we learned tea is as much about building community as it is about the drink itself. We have been fortunate enough to have many people contribute their time and talents at The Tea Smith; they have come to imbibe our love of tea and sharing the tea with our supporters. Many of those that have moved on to new adventures in their lives are still involved and supportive of our efforts.

Our customers, be they consumers or businesses, have been a big part of our inspiration and success over the years. We cannot express what it means to us when we overhear a customer telling another, “This is my tea store.” Or when a shop shares with us their customers’ enthusiasm about the teas we made for them to sell and serve. We are so pleased to be a part of their growth and success.

It is with great anticipation that we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary and to see what the next 15 years have in store for us. Whatever it is, you can be sure we will continue to seek out great teas, build our knowledge, and to share all that with you, The Tea Smith community.

We wish you great prospects and great tea experiences for 2019!

Sincerely,

Tim Smith and the Tea Smithies

Holiday Tea Drink Recipe: Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Liqueur

Chocolate and peppermint are a classic combination, especially in wintertime. This drink blends the niceness of antioxidants with the naughtiness of peppermint liquor.

Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Liqueur

(Serves 2)

Chocolate Mint Rooibos Tea

Ingredients:

  • 14 g Chocolate Mint Rooibos Tea
  • 16 oz. water
  • 1 tsp. rock sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. peppermint liqueur
  • Whipped cream
  • Crushed peppermint candy

Directions:

  1. Infuse the Chocolate Mint Rooibos Tea in 208° water. Steep for 5-7 minutes. Strain.
  2. Pour 10 oz of the brewed tea into your favorite mug.
  3. Add coffee and peppermint liqueur and stir well.
  4. Garnish with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy.
  5. For larger groups, add an additional 9 g of Chocolate Mint Rooibos Tea for every 8 oz. of water.
  6. Enjoy!