I have blogged about my struggles in the past with green tea. For awhile, I thought it was the caffeine in the tea that was the culprit. But black tea did not affect me the way green tea did so I knew it couldn’t be the caffeine. Green tea just made me feel… I dunno… weird for lack of a better word. I tried all different brands of tea, regular and decaffeinated, but was always left with a strange feeling after drinking it. So I gave up on tea.
I then tried a couple different types of white tea on a whim and low and behold, it was a completely new experience. Since then, tea has become something of a hobby of mine, and I keep about 10 or so different types of green tea as regulars and try different ones all the time. I am also starting to collect teaware, a true sign of a tea junkie! So if you are having difficulties enjoying green tea, here are some suggestions:
1. Throw away your green tea bags. Sorry to say but it is true. Green tea cannot be brewed properly in a sealed tea bag. Nor in a tea ball. In order for the tea to steep properly, the water must freely circulate around and through the tea leaves. A small single serving size tea pot or brewing vessel designed for green tea is best. Many have a built in strainer that allows for free flow of water around the leaves. But I have had much success with many grades of tea with just an infuser basket in a ceramic mug. Brewing in teaware will improve your experience of high grade teas, but it is not necessary.
2. Invest in high quality loose leaf tea. This is the one that made the difference for me in tea enjoyment. Quality makes all the difference. And the aroma from high quality tea is unbelievable. You will notice the difference just in the fragrance of the tea. Do not be surprised if you find yourself opening the canister of dried tea leaves just to smell it. High quality teas will often be hand harvested and tell the region and harvest of the tea. First harvest new leaf teas are the highest grade. Freshness is also important. Tea degrades when exposed to oxygen and high end teas will be shipped in nitrogen flushed packages. Expect to pay $10-$20 per 50 grams (1.75 oz.). But you can get several steeps out of a single serving… sometimes as many as 4 or 5 steeps before the flavor begins to go flat, depending on the type of tea. For those of you that do not have a tea store nearby, many teaheads think that the best commercially available tea in the US is Rishi Tea. Whole Foods often carry their tea in bulk so you can experiment with a few varieties that you might like. They have a really nice Jasmine Pearl and their Genmaicha and Sencha are not too bad. And the Silver Needles white tea from Rishi is one of the best Silver Needles available, imo. And it is a much cheaper way to experiment than ordering tea direct from Asian distributors.
2. Check the quality of your water. I am fortunate in that our municipal water supply is essentially treated snowmelt. We are a first-use community with no recycled water in our water supply and our tap water is better than many bottled waters out there. I do filter my drinking water though and find that filtered water is adequate for most green teas. Except for Sencha which is a tricky beast. Taste test your drinking water against spring water. If the spring water tastes sweet to you, you might want to brew your tea in spring water or a combination of spring and filtered or tap water.
3. Be vigilant about water temperature. Most green teas brew best with a water temp of 160-175 F (71-79 C). Many green tea recommendations say to brew green teas at 180 F (82 C) but I find that is too hot of a temperature for many teas and can lead to a very bitter brew. Where I live, water boils at 190 F so it is fairly easy to get a good water temperature. I just grab the tea kettle when a thin line of steam is coming from it.
4. Experiment with tea leaf amounts and brewing time. This is one that really depends on personal preference. I like milder infusions for most types of tea. For Japanese teas, I do very short steep times but a little more leaf. With Chinese teas, less leaves and longer steeps. The general (and I mean general) rule of thumb is about 6 to 8 grams (1.5 to 2 tsp.) per 8 oz of water steeped for 2 minutes. Do not stir the leaves. Let the pot or cup steep undisturbed.
5. Green tea should not taste bitter. Some teas, like Sencha, are naturally astringent (read bitter) but the bitterness should not be overwhelming. If your brew is bitter, try steeping it for a shorter time and at a lower temperature. There is a sweet spot for every type of tea and sometimes it takes experimenting to find where that is. I know I’ve brewed Sencha properly when it tastes green and vegetal with just a bite of bitterness at the end of the swallow. If you really dislike any type of bitterness , try white tea. It is the easiest to brew in terms of bitterness and is quite mild in flavor. It is essentially a green tea but the very first tiny leaf buds which are often covered in soft white hairs that give the leaf a white appearance.
Now I am just a novice in the art of tea brewing but these suggestions greatly increased my enjoyment and pleasure of tea. Perhaps with a little patience and experimenting, you too will experience the marvels of this ‘precious dew’ in a cup.
A colleague friend of mine is considering a move to a new locale. He has a background in city planning and currently works as a planning consultant so we were discussing what his options might be. He told me of an exciting opportunity to be part of a planning team working on a multi-million dollar research facility. He had recently met with one of the planners already working on this project and seemed excited to be a part of the team. I asked what company was funding this huge megaplex of a research facility. He replied:
What??? Monsanto?!?! I was stunned. I looked at him in disbelief. I remarked that they’re the ones responsible for all the GMO frankenfood out there. He agreed and mentioned the bovine growth hormone as well. I looked at him and said, “If I were in your shoes, I’d feel like I was selling my soul to the devil.” He replied that it was a bit out of character for him.
Make that one huge bit. Here is a man who is considering getting another master’s degree in sustainable energy, who travels around the country taking photos of wind farms, who notices the testing poles on the eastern plains of our state testing for wind speed feasibility, who notices that additional water turbines have been added to the hydro-electric generator in the nearby creek. He takes more pleasure in the enjoyment of the natural beauty of our state… hiking, biking, camping, etc. than anyone I know. He is a thoughtful, extremely considerate, intelligent naturalist of a man. How is it that he could justify working for a monster like Monsanto?
Being that I am a B, of course I asked him straight up that question. He said the purpose of the research facility was for experimenting with hybridization techniques: planting test fields, collecting the seeds, and distributing the seeds to other testing sites around the world with varied climatic conditions to see how the hybridized seeds grew. I said that even hybridization has its problems… I know a few people that suspect our hybridized foodstuffs to be a root problem in many food intolerances and allergies. He said that as long as the research was within the plant kingdom, he was ok with it. There you go… there’s his edge. Ok with the plant tampering.
But it made me think about where my edges are. I used to buy only organic food. Not any more. Some foods, like almonds and almond butter are just too expensive. I have been thinking about adding many more foods to the non-organic consumption list, particularly foods that tested to have low pesticide residues in/on them. The reason? Price. Five years ago it never would have occurred to me to purchase and consume non-organic food. But now is different. We all have our edges.
Today I had lunch with said colleague. I asked him how the prospect of working for Monsanto was coming along. He replied it was becoming a little closer to a reality. I told him I hoped he would be able to at least retain a portion of his soul if he indeed was hired to consult in the planning of this research facility.
Time will tell.
I am blessed to live in an area that has an abundance of natural mineral springs. For many years, the springs near my home have been out of commission but recent years have brought back their revival to the good fortune of residents and tourists alike. Of course the mineral springs and the land surrounding it were considered sacred by the Native Americans where they believed the spirit of the gods and humankind interacted. The Nations of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa designated this sacred area as neutral ground for all. However, with the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and President Jefferson ordering several military surveys of the area, the springs were discovered by the white men and all the turbulent history typical of the Wild West unfolded. Sad, and unfortunately true.
Touted as possessing enormous health benefits even 200 years ago, each spring has its own unique mineral content. Believed to be several thousand years old, the water rises naturally from aquifers deep below ground where it absorbs minerals in high concentrations, sometimes 2 to 3 times the amount found at more familiar springs. But it is the bubbles though… that intense effervescence caused by high concentrations of carbonic acid that makes the water here a cut above.
Off the beaten path, one of the lesser known mineral springs is called Twin Spring, a local favorite. Really… it so unobtrusive you almost miss it unless you know it is there. Called Happy Water or Feel Good Water by well versed locals, it is known for its lithium content. Clocking in as a mere trace of lithium (I think 22 ppm), it is probably the rich calcium and potassium concentrations, as well as other minerals that are really responsible for that 'feel good' factor. Or maybe it’s just the bubbles. It is purported to make the best lemonade in the known universe. All I know is that it is the most sublime water I have ever tasted. Straight from the spring (which flows continuously), it is the perfect temperature, cool, and tangy… and oh so bubbly in that gentle effervescence of naturally sparkling mineral water. This water is also known for its diuretic effects so I do limit myself to one glass per day.
I have been indulging in this special… and dare I say… FREE treat now for a couple weeks. Being unbottled water, it does lose its delightful bubbliness after a day or so. And after about a week the taste begins to lose its tang and go flat. Perhaps my plants will enjoy it at that point. I must say though… to have such a delightful and free mineral water at my disposal... definitely Feels Good to me.
Ah… a good question… I feel like I have been swimming underwater for several months now waiting for an air hole to open up in the ice above…
I have been working with my diet for awhile, trying out the Nomad GenoType Diet for size. I find that at this point, it does not fit me very well. This is a little disconcerting as it really isn’t that much different from the B secretor recommendations that I have been so loyal to all these years. With the GTD, I continue to have difficulty with periodic blood sugar swings, and my seasonal allergies have kicked up a few notches this year too. As Dr. D’Adamo says in “The Genotype Diet”… “One clue: The right diet will always make you feel better, not worse.” On the quiz, I do score higher on the BTD than the GTD as well. So there you go.
There are some concepts from the GTD that I do include, although I hesitate to combine both diets… I just do not think that is the best compromise. As I have written before, I think gluten is something of an issue for me but I have chosen to do low-gluten rather than no-gluten as the no-gluten grains just do not have enough bulk for me. I changed my brown rice choice to a medium grain, rather than long grain… not as fluffy but more heft to it that helps. I might even go back to short grain from my macrobiotic days, we’ll see. But I do eat spelt bread on occasion, and use spelt flour in a couple recipes. I have been pleased to find that most of my favorite recipes easily adapt to rice flour or a rice/oat flour combo. I have added wakame to my bean cooking water for now… not the same as my beloved miso of the distant past but I have been trying to find a way to incorporate more of a sea veggie intake and this is any easy way to do that.
When reading the Nomad profile, I guffawed out loud when I read that nomads tend to “sleep restfully” Uh… yeah…. Not Me. One of my earliest memories is lying awake in bed at night. Often. While everyone else in the household slept. I think in my earlier years, I just thought that was the natural pattern of sleep, being awake for portions of the night. Sleeping well, and 'restfully', has certainly been, and continues to be one of my biggest health challenges. I have begun taking time to meditate again. I know the positive effects of meditation are really felt over time, not the quick solution by any means. I hope I have the where-with-all to make it a daily practice… once again. It is frustrating, isn’t it?… to have all the tools needed for glorious, radiant health and well-being and then to find oneself not using them. One of the conundrums of being human.
Eeeek… it has been over 2 months since my last blog. Not much has changed since that time… except that it has gotten warmer in the weather department. I’ve been in a state of overwhelm for so long now that it is starting to feel like my normal state of being. It has been a looong time since I truly relaxed all the way through. I practice relaxation every day but can’t quite get through to the core. I know, though, that this too shall pass….
While I am waiting to land in a happier place of normal, I try to sustain myself with happy little discoveries. Today, I chanced upon, through a friend, the realization that there is a raw milk goat dairy in my area, and they sell shares to customers with pick-up through a couple of locally owned stores. She gave me a sample of the raw milk that was 5 days old. It tasted like… dare I say… breast milk?? OK… if that gives you the willies let’s just say it was like sipping sweetly scented flowers. I have never tasted such a lovely, delicate sweetness in all my days. And in goats milk! Apparently the pasteurization of goats milk is what gives it that goat-y taste. All I could think of was the wonderful yogurt, ice cream, and cheeses that could be made with this goat nectar. Raw goats milk does not have a long shelf life… about a week. But you can maximize the freshness by storing in smaller containers and filling the container to the top with the milk so that no air is in the container.
Ok… now here is the cherry on top of the milk… the goat dairy folks are beginning the Blood Type Diet. How cool is that! In fact, they met my friend in a HFS while ingredient shopping for BTD foods. Small world, indeed!
So I trust that those goats are well and healthfully fed. You can taste it in their milk.