Shannon's Edit

A Lesson in Teas & Tisanes with Dr Tea

May 10, 2011
dr tea

Not so long ago, I was completely in love with and hopelessly addicted to coffee. A soy latte here, a mocha chino there. Somewhere along the line I gave caffeine the ol’ heave ho and switched to beauty-boosting herbal (and the occasional green and jasmine) teas.

Now, I drink just about every herbal tea around, from dandelion leaf and nettle to lavender and sage. My kitchen is now well-stocked with just about every tea around.

While I love settling in on my couch with a warm cuppa in hand, I also adore visiting tea houses, especially those where drinking it is considered an art, with gorgeous tea cups, accessories and tins of teas lining the walls.

One of my favorite places was Dr Tea on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles (it closed its doors, but you can still buy the teas online). The man behind the tea sanctuary Mark Ukra dared opened the tea garden in a city known for its countless Starbucks and loyal coffee addicts who patiently line up for their daily caffeine hit.

The English swear by it and the Japanese cherish it, yet, in the United States, Mark (or Dr Tea) says tea is one of the least favored drinks, despite its documented health benefits.

Considering he comes from a family of Middle Eastern tea merchants dating back more than 400 years, it’s little surprise Dr Tea has become the unofficial spokesperson for tea in the US. His book, The Ultimate Tea Diet, also showed that tea was good for more than just getting your daily dose of health-boosting, beauty-loving antioxidants.

I asked Dr Tea to briefly explain and share some interesting tid bits about the ancient beverage that comes in many varieties, yet is derived from just one powerhouse plant: the Camellia Sinensis.

How can tea help coffee drinkers kick their habit?

I had this exact issue. I found that tea is essentially consumed exactly like coffee, hot and or cold. It can be placed in the same cup so you have the same feeling. They both have caffeine, albeit, tea has less as well as L-Theanine which counteracts caffeine’s harmful effect in the brain.

Now taste of course is not easily matched although I sell a coffee tea, which is a tea I have roasted in a coffee roaster so it looks and smells like coffee.

What is it exactly about tea that makes it so good for the body?

Two main factors; But first, think about it this way; when your sick do you ask for a cup of coffee? No, because we know tea makes us feel better. Now, this is because:

1. L-Theanine: Only found in the tea plant and a very rare mushroom. L-Theanine counteracts caffeine’s harmful effects as well as increasing your ability for focus and concentration.
2. Antioxidants: Tea has identified antioxidants which repair cellular damage which can reduce the risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke.

What teas have the most antioxidants?

All tea comes from the same plant. Therefore all teas will have antioxidants. Now the studies show that the least processed teas have the most antioxidants. So in order: white, green, oolong, and black. But do not make your judgment of what to drink based on this, because it is not that much different.  Find the teas you love to drink and drink those, otherwise you’ll be back to coffee in no time.

Now keep in mind in order to be tea, it has to come form the tea plant. Rooibos, chamomile and mint are not teas. They are their own plant and consumed like tea. Properly referred to as a tisane.

Tea is high in beauty-boosting antioxidants

What are your most recommended teas?

Tough one because I could name all 110 teas I sell as my favourite.  I can give you some:

King Ti Kuan Yin Oolong: The best tasting tea I have ever had anywhere. Consistent, long finish, and can be steeped 10 times with a fabulous change of flavor with each steep.

Tai Ping Long Leaf: This tea was given to President Nixon when he arrived in China for the first visit in the 70s. Unique hand pressed long leaves, gently processed into a fabulous tea that will have you coming back for more.

Queen Elizabeth Black: I have had the opportunity to have the same black tea she drinks and it is a remarkably deep, long lasting strong tea.

My ownMint Chocolate Chip Green Tea: What can I say, I love this craving tea.

Can you drink too much tea? How much is too much?

You can have too much of anything. But it will take a lot. In my control group study done for my book, The Ultimate Tea Diet, we had people consuming 15 cups a day. I drink about 10 a day.

What’s one tea everyone should try before they die?

Another good one. I would say the King Ti Kuan Yin. Or, my white blueberry tea which is our best seller.

What are people most surprised to learn about tea?

All tea comes from the same plant.

How to Make Sun Tea

A great way to make tea without wasting energy is to use the power of the sun to make sun tea.

Put 4 to 6 tea bags into a 2 quart glass container.
Fill with water and place outside where the sunlight can strike the container for about 3 to 5 hours.
Move the container if necessary to keep it in the sun.
When the tea has reached its desired strength, remove from sun and put it in the refrigerator
You may or may not want to remove the tea bags at this point. The slow steeping has a way of bringing out a slightly different flavor from the tea.
Tea should be refrigerated and drank quickly – a day or two.

You can add any type of fruit or flavor you desire for an added taste, such as a few sprigs of fresh mint as well as oranges, apples, etc.

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