Friday, June 8, 2012

Stress Relief & Sonnentor tea "Relaxing Herbal Spice Tea"

I know this one has been a long time coming but between getting ready for a wedding, trying to organize a move and dealing with the first stages of a PhD my mind has been blown the last few weeks :) which brings me to the topic of this post, namely the stress relieving properties of tea.

OK normally I am an anxious creature anyway and I have a very good imagination.  Forget molehills I live among mountains and try as I might to hide this fact from the vast majority of the world I can't quite pull off  being cool. I'm more fire then water and my coping mechanism is to charge at something and bash it into submission. "Wapaa: take that to-do -list"! 

So how does one cope with stress. There are a million different ways! Some people meditate, some people do yoga, some people write blogs :) and some people tell what ever it is that is stressing them out to take a running jump. Seriously anything that involves a good dose of dopamine and adrenaline seem to be a good fix for me(hence the ex-smoker bit). If I am not too lazy to follow through then an evening at the gym, going for a walk/run or possibly some form of martial art   works wonders. Another route to take would  be some life affirming extreme sport (my personal favorite being white water rafting as I haven't quite worked up the courage to jump off a bridge with what is essentially a giant rubber band attached to my ankles). 

However I have come to realize that while my charge up the hill approach to pretty much everything is a good plan for short term projects if you use the fight mechanism to get through everything eventually you end up wrecked. Also somethings in life need detail, precision and patience and if you are a hot headed charger who fights their way to the end you often miss the details and sometimes the pleasure in the journey.  So I have been trying to readdress this balance by going for the more meditative arts. 

My attempt to find quieter ways of stress relief includes both yoga and tea making. Yoga because I really don't have the patience to meditate yet and yoga is something active that promotes meditation. And tea drinking for two very different reasons: Firstly there is the act of making tea and secondly you can make a tea from plants with calming properties.  

The act of making tea relieves stress for a number of reasons but primarily it gets you the hell away from whatever is frustrating the hell out of you. Seriously next time you are working on a problem and you find yourself blocked, instead of trying to push through it, get up and make yourself a cup of tea. Think about the question and the problem but run it in the background as you devote some of your brain power to boiling the water and brewing the tea. Relax, try to let it go and have a drink. Then return to your desk and see if you can tackle the problem more objectively. Maybe you just need to go around the problem, look something up or ask someone. Whatever it is that you need to do getting a bit of distance will help you tackle it. 

There are many plants know for their calming properties particularly Jasmine, lavender and Camomile are the ones that spring to mind on the spot. Both Jasmine and Lavender are known for the soothing and sedative properties of their aroma. 

Jasmine tea is consumed in China, where it is called jasmine-flower tea (茉莉花茶; pinyin: mò lì huā chá). Jasmine tea often uses green tea or oolong tea as a base.

The lavenders (botanic name Lavandula) is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family. It has a strong effect and is mostly useful through aroma therapy. It comes with a few health cautions and personally I find it intoxicating in both the good and bad sense of the word. In the good sense used mildly  it will help me sleep. Overuse of it however overpowers and feels suffocating. It is definately a plant I will return to later in this blog. 

Camomile is a common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae and are best known for their ability to be made into an infusion which is commonly used to help with sleep and is often served with either honey or lemon. It is recommended that pregnant women don't drink it however as it may cause contractions.

The tea I have tried from Sonnentor entitled "Relaxing Herbal Spice Tea", includes lemon balm, sage, lavender, parsley, fennel and marigold. I found that this tea did not have a strong flavor and mostly what I could taste was the fennel and sage.Common sage is grown in parts of Europe for distillation of an essential oil,  As a kitchen herb, sage has a slight peppery flavor. I did not find it had a particularly relaxing effect however although this may be influenced by how keyed up I was when I drank it. For relaxation I normally rely on Jasmine tea as I find Jasmine not as pungent as Lavender and tastier then camomile. My recommendation would be to find a nice green tea with jasmine flowers if you wish to relax. I would also recommend loose tea rather then a teabag. Take you time brewing the tea. Boil the water, prepare the teapot, sit comfortably and sip the tea from a small cup. Make it a 10min relaxation ritual that allows you to breath and take in the smell and flavor slowly. Root yourself in the present while enjoying your Jasmine tea and breath. 


Friday, May 11, 2012

Sonnentor organic tea-Guardian Angel Tea

My friend Ellen posted me a packet of Sonnentor organic tea to enjoy :) She writes in the accompanying letter that the box of tea bags amounts to 20 new blog posts.  I am going to take that as a challenge and give it a go.  

Cheerfully some of the teas have delightful names such as  "Guardian Angel Spice-Fruit Tea" and  "it's all good! Sweet  Dreams" Which makes me think of your world tour microfiction Ellen and seriously tempts me  :) 

For to-day however  I am going to content myself with describing  Schutzengel Gewurz Fruchteteemischung or as it is translated on the packet Guardian Angel Spice Fruit Tea.   With a name like that it has a lot to live up to. 

 It definitely will lift your spirits and your pulse as it contains apple pieces, coriander, fennel, rosehip, spearmint(without menthol), anise, lemon balm and cornflowers. This is a tea that will blast the demon out of you. Almost hot, it really wakes you up. Fennel, lemon balm anise and spearmint pack the punch and refreshes. However I really don't get a fruity vibe from this tea nor does the coriander really hit home.  I would argue that "Guardian Angel spiced fruit tea" is not entirely the most apt label. "Kick ass, zombie killer" is probably much more apt. This is a tea I would drink to help bust a cold or if  I  really need to put my brain to work. 

Fennel  is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses, and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. Fennel contains anethole, which may explain some of its medical effects. Anethole which is an organic compound  is 13 times sweeter then sugar and has potent antimicrobial properties working against bacteria, yeast, and fungi. You can grow fennel quite easily and brew a tea from the fresh leaves or you can dry them and save them for later.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Blooming Tea-Flowering Tea

Blooming tea or flowering tea is one of the most beautiful ways to have tea. Blooming tea is made to emulate a flower blooming  and consists of a tea ball made of dried green tea that "blooms" as it absorbs water. Normally they are hand tied bundles and quite time consuming to make. I have included here a link to a video by teaposy who sell blooming tea to give you some idea of the different effects achieved by different flowers. 

According to the Wiki flowers commonly used in flowering teas include globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, jasmine, lily, hibiscus, and osmanthus. My favorite are the  jasmine ones as there is a delicate floral flavor and scent to the tea. Jasmine tea is also particularly renowned for it's relaxing qualities. I received a gift-set of blooming tea a couple of years ago from Teavana which is one of the nicest teashops around for gorgeous tea related gifts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barrys Tea Recipes

Barrys tea have put some tea recipes on their website which look enticing.  Here is an example that looks tasty, haven't tried it myself yet though:) If you have any good tea recipes you would like to share I would really like to hear them  

Barry's Lemon and Ginger Noodle Soup


8 Lemon and Ginger Tea Bags
800ml of Chicken stock
4 Chicken Breasts or 500g of pork steak
A 2inch sized piece of ginger finely grated
Juice of a lemon
200g of fine egg noodles
4 Scallions finely sliced


Cut the chicken or pork into thin strips and marinade in the ginger and lemon juice for a few hours.
Place the tea bags in a large saucepan and add 120ml of boiling water and leave to infuse for half an hour.
In a separate frying pan, fry your meat until crispy.
When the tea has infused add the stock and season with salt and papper. Put on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove the tea bags and add the noodles. Cook for two minute or until the noodles are soft.
To serve, divide the soup between four bowls, sprinkle with the meat and finely sliced scallions and enjoy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Laying the groundwork for the decade ahead

I mentioned in the introduction that I also wanted this site to include stories, words of wisdom and generally the stuff you might chat about over a cup of tea so I have decided to do a short post on my motivation for starting this blog. 

I  remember being told in my early 20's that what you are doing now is laying the groundwork for your health in the next decade. While I didn't have a crazy lifestyle, I had the unfortunate belief that quiting smoking and thinking seriously about my health could wait a little longer. I was of course aware that I might someday become ill or that smoking would eventually catch up with me but it was so far off I didn't really truly consider it.  It was only when  I was unlucky enough be hit with a pulmonary embolism on a return flight from Japan in 2006 that the implications of some of my choices really hit home. 
At the time the sense of shock was like running into a brick wall. I was confronted with the very real fact that I was not invincible after all and that willpower alone is not the only thing that holds a person together. Some major changes had to be made and looking back in some ways I am glad that this happened to me earlier in life because it made me stand up and pay attention to myself physically. As a person who overvalues the mind I was forced out of my head and back into my body.

They say a journey of 1000 miles  begins with a single step. This is daunting enough when you were expecting to take a trip, when you suddenly find yourself dumped in the middle of a vast unknown land and the journey to bring you home is much longer then you ever dreamed possible, then you begin to realize just how hard it is to change even the smallest thing about your behavior. The best thing that can be done for a while is to focus on your feet and to start walking. So that is what I did. It's been almost 6 years down and the journey still continues. I am out of the woods for what initially triggered my journey   but I am forever changed. I will always carry the risk even after quitting smoking but I hope I have learned to turn it for the most part into something that fuels me to appreciate life and not as something that holds me back. 

My love of tea has always been there but throughout the last 6 years it has taken on a deeper meaning, It has come to be a part of my journey to better health and helped me appreciate the little things that make a big difference. It has served as a way to create space for myself in a very busy world and helped distract me whenever an urge to smoke was threatening my desire to quit. This blog is part of my journey and I welcome you to it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tea song by the McGetigans

My good friend Jenni passed this on to me to-day and it really brightened up my day. So good I had to share it here!!! Check it out 

A song about Tea. By Irish band The McGetigans. "We like tea!"