Ayurveda Speciality and Functional Teas
Illness to Wellness
“There is no universal definition of specialty tea in the industry, but we define it as whole leaf orthodox tea, often organic and single origin” says Jesse Bloomindale, Profound – Advisers in Development
In this blog we are trying to focus on the healthy aging and brain health (in the Western philosophy and not as in Sanskrit or Ayurveda Sciences). In between I will try to touch upon some issues relevant to tea buyers and sellers briefly.
The new slogan is ‘I’ for Illness and ‘We’ for Wellness. Convert the ‘I’ into ‘We’ because its all in the “mind”,specially since the Covid 19 pandemic.So be mind-full. A healthy mind promotes a healthy body. By healthy mind here we are talking about both physical and psychological. Physical through your eating habits, exercise and the way we use it. By psychologically healthy mind, we mean, a mind that is either not stressed, anxious, depressed or least engaging in greed, jealousy, revengeful and thinks of bringing down another person and much more.
In the history of tea drinking “Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage,” writes 19th-century Japanese scholar Okakura Kakuzo in his infamous publication, “The Book of Tea”. Research on the history of tea-drinking around the world confirms that this beverage was originally considered a mindfulness aid, calling for the drinker to take slow sips and be in the moment and not so much for pleasure or heedless consumption (1).
It looks like a new era of tea is coming up as people have started caring about their health, wellness and nutrition. Tea drinkers and non-alcoholic beverage consumers are getting more and more interested in the origin, type and benefits of tea drinking. Some consumers have started drinking tea with food just like wine, while others have replaced their wines with herbal and functional teas. Having said the above, tea drinking culture is still in its nascent stage, in western countries. In coming years more and more tea connoisseurs will emerge. Millennials* are the biggest tea consumers and like to experiment with healthy functional teas. (2)
Adaptogens like Turmeric, Ginger, Reishi mushrooms and CBD are being used for healthy teas to give some relief to stressful lives with overload technology. The consumers are reading food and tea labels diligently, to ensure zero sugar, low to non-caffeine and nutrition. Senior consumers are slowly adapting to functional herbal teas and mostly interested in healthy aging, memory and brain health to avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Arthritis.
Despite this ongoing honey- moon period with love for speciality or functional teas, a question arises, is the consumer ready to pay a fair price for good functional teas?; where the brand has not cut corners and is providing the best in terms of taste, health, wellness and above all is easy to consume (3). My personal opinion is, “may be”. For example, tea bags or bottled teas are easy to drink, but is this the real thing? Other deciding factor for the discerning tea consumers are pretty much similar to wine:
- Where the tea is coming from?
- Are the gardens following best practices with their tea pickers?
- Are the pickers being paid fair wages?
- Are the companies selling tea engaging in sustainability and social responsibility?
- Fair pricing?
How Functional Teas can help your Brains and Minds is one common function for the more mature, whereas it is mainly slimming and detox teas for the millennia’s.
How important is our Mind? Why extra-ordinary importance is given to the cognitive brain, brain aging and memory loss, in the last 50 years of life. Yogic culture says, "Mind is a layman’s word for Brain", I’m not so sure. (See Apendix for an an Ayurvedic or Indian perspective in a brief explanation of “what is mind and brain” in the Yogic culture or Ayurveda Sciences). World over, whatever age, social strata or position a person maybe, everyone is seeking a healthy mind over matter. The current pandemic more and more millennia's are also drawn towards "ways to keep a cognitive brain”.
Tea as alternate medicine
The bitterness in tea as well as the dryness that you feel in your mouth after drinking, is because of catechins, natural antioxidants that fight the formation of free radicals in our bodies. “All teas have powerful antioxidant properties. Teas can prevent cancers, help with arthritis, psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions. It is also very beneficial for cardiovascular diseases. On top of that, it’s a very low calorie drink and can be a great substitute for any day- time beverage,” says Dr. Anjali Hooda Sangwan, a leading obesity, metabolic medicine and clinical nutrition specialist.
While the world goes berserk over green tea(4), black tea (the Chinese variety, not the English),oolong, and a tea called pu’er are ``potent medicines. In fact, all herbs are medicine, whether they’re in the form of ‘tea’, infusion, tincture, or capsule. Dr. Anjali, further says, “Black tea has polyphenols and flavonoids making it a very powerful antioxidant, while Hibiscus or any flower tea have wonderful antioxidant properties too.” Most herbal or Ayurveda teas have no caffeine, yet they work, serve a pain-point in our bodies; provided we know our body type [(see blog on Ayurveda Body Types (Doshas)].
Photograph: Green Tea Gardens
Roth Cafe: Functional Teas
Here are Some Global Examples of Tea Companies working on “Illness to Wellness”.
1.Tea company ‘Numi Organic Teas’ says, featuring efficacious plants like Echinacea, elderberry, dandelion root, kanna leaf and burdock root, the line contains potent herbal blends developed to support immunity, combat common cold symptoms, and help users relax during a time when consumers are increasingly seeking out physical and emotional wellbeing.
“Numi’s Stay Healthy Line, draws knowledge from herbalists and ancient traditions to create the most effective blends to support common health concerns,” said Reem Hassani, chief brand officer and co-founder of Numi Organic Tea. “In a time of such uncertainty, we were grateful to be able to turn to time-honoured herbal remedies to strengthen and soothe the body and mind. In addition to containing pure ingredients, the botanicals featured in the Stay Healthy line are aroma-therapeutic and delicious, so you can enjoy soothing flavors while taking care of your body”(5).
Each flavor delivers powerful benefits in line with current consumer trends: functional foods, immune boosters, adaptogens, sleep aids and respiratory support. All of the blends in Numi’s Stay Healthy Line are organic, ethically sourced, climate neutral, and use plant-based compostable wrappers, reflecting Numi’s commitment to making positive impact in the world.
2. British research firm Global Data communicated with World Tea News, the net value of the U.S. tea market in 2019 stood at $2.8 billion USD and is expected to record “robust growth,” at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 4.8 percent, which will see the category’s value reach $3.4 billion USD by 2023. “This is driven by new innovations such as cold-brews and ‘hard-teas’, as well as healthier varieties, with the inclusion of functional ingredients such as turmeric increasingly visible on supermarket shelves”, says the firm “Global Data”. (6)
Gen Z consumers reported a definitive preference for green tea, at 38 percent, compared to black tea at 19 percent (GlobalData 2019 Q4 consumer survey – US). When asked in the same survey what flavors/infusions they preferred in tea, Gen Z opted for “herbal” and “sweet” equally at 67 percent, while millennia’s preferred “fruity” and “herbal” at 72 percent and 64 percent respectively. Plain or unflavored options garnered the lowest responses for both generations.
Roth a Tea Connoisseur, reports that approximately 30 percent of her regular customers are millennia’s or Gen Z members. “These age groups are much more interested in the story behind the teas, than the specific teas them selves,” said Roth (6). Teas’ specific origins, the people making them, unusual processing methods are all intriguing factors that, especially younger tea enthusiasts, want to know
However, as Global Data’s Bryan emphasized, “The RTD (Ready to Drink) tea segment remains a threat to the hot-tea market, offering a quicker, easier route to a tasty tea drink. Convenience is a deciding factor for many consumers, and if given the choice, they will often opt for an RTD tea/beverage rather than waiting the few minutes it takes to brew a cup.”
3. Twinning’s: Bryan cited the Twinning’s release of a new cold-brew flavored tea last year, designed to be infused in a cold bottle of water, and Tea Of A Kind’s “tea set,” which comes with one ready-to-go bottle and three eco refill caps, as examples of the convenient alternatives being demanded by millennia’s and Generation Z.
Barry, who spoke at the World Tea Expo 2020, had this to say:
Herbal tea’s growth is concentrated in six markets around the world: The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Brazil. “Canada is probably ahead of the U.S. It has been very aggressive in shifting away from black tea and toward the herbals,” said Barry. He attributes this trend to the higher prevalence of specialist retailers in Canada, some of which create their own innovative blends that taste good. However, Germany has the world’s largest herbal tea market (7).
15 Functional Teas that are Non-caffeine from ancient Ayurvedic or Chinese herbs.
1.Matcha Green Tea
The history of green tea in China goes back to 8th century and the method of making powdered tea from steam-prepared dried tea leaves, became popular in 12th century. A Buddhist monk, Myoan Eisai, discovered matcha and brought it to Japan.
Match Green tea that has been available in Japan since centuries. Recently matcha has been authenticated and proven for its health benefits, that are said to be 10 times more than green tea. The secret lies in the plants being covered to get maximum amount of chlorophyl. Camilia Sinesis plant is covered under complete shade from 4-6 weeks before plucking, drying and grinding the green leaves into fine powder in a floor-mill. The longer they are covered and under shade, the more chlorophyl they collect.
Not only is matcha amazingly photogenic, but it also has tremendous nutritional value for the human body:
- Promotes brain health and mental well being ( specially memory boosting and cognitive thinking)
- Supports heart health
- Reduces your body’s “bad Cholesterol” LDL and alleviates your ‘good ‘HDL
- The abundance of useful antioxidants 'Catechins', including EGCG and L-theanine (an amino acid) that works as a neurotransmitter and helps in warding off cancerous cells
- Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral
- Matcha drinks promote a gradual increase in energy and a tranquil or calm focus and not a jittery vitality like an espresso. It is this relaxed alertness that draws Buddhist monks to matcha and supports concentration during meditation.
- Weight-loss EGCG component has been studied several times over that last 2 decades and the results were pretty conflicting. The latest cutting edge research has found: The brewable green teas were found to have between 25 to 86 milligrams of EGCG per serving while the most potent matcha products provided anywhere from 17 milligrams to 109 milligrams. That is to say, matcha tea contains 2-3 times more EGCG components [Guerra. J. “How is Matcha Energy different from Coffee?”. eatthis.com 13 June 2019.]
Source: Glo Power
2. Chamomile tea. Chamomile flowers have some unique properties that may benefit the quality of your sleep. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia, or chronic inability to sleep. It can also help in reducing stress and anxiety over time. Just like peppermint tea, chamomile tea has great benefits in relaxing the muscles and reducing irritability
3.Rosemary tea. Research studies have shown that Rosemary can help improve brain functionality by boosting long-term memory. Carnosic acid, an antioxidant also present in rosemary, has shown to have promising effects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
4.Gotu Kola. Gotu Kola is popular for improving blood circulation and wound healing, and for enhancing mental functioning; Gotu Kola has a centering effect instead of giving a quick serge or jerk of energy without over-stimulating side effects, something like matcha green tea. A study from 2016 states that Gotu Kola, taken with folic acid, helped boost cognitive function in stroke patients.
Source : Mother Earth Living, Healing with Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica)
5.Green tea. Green tea comes from the Camellia Saneness plant and is among the healthiest teas worldwide. It is full of antioxidants, nutrients, and has several benefits for our minds and body. Green tea is full of polyphenols, a chemical which can reduce the inflammatory response. L-theanine an amino acid present in green tea increases dopamine, alpha waves, and neuro-transmitters to the brain. L-theanine in green tea is said to improve cognitive function of our brains besides promoting relaxation without drowsiness.
6. Ginkgo Biloba
Also known as maidenhair, Ginkgo Biloba is often used in traditional Chinese medicine. Besides containing inflammation-fighting antioxidants, studies show that it can improve cognitive function and reduce dementia symptoms.
The daily recommended dose of Ginkgo Biloba tea is 240 mg, which is sufficient to reap its many benefits for the brain. It is a popular neuro-tropic for memory improvement for school-age individuals, as well as those well into their middle age (8).
Source: Mirror Tea House, Ginko Biloba Tea
7.Ginger tea may also help improve cognitive function, as well as prevent neurological diseases. Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, it may the reduce risk factors in diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (9).
A study in 2011 showed quicker cognitive processing and enhanced working memory in middle-aged subjects consuming ginger extract for 2 months. These subjects also displayed more attentiveness and a better memory quality. Ginger’s most common benefit, however, is to ease stomach woes. One study on ginger found pregnant women who used ginger in form of supplements experienced less vomiting and nausea than the placebo group—without side effects (10).
8.Turmeric tea. Turmeric is a root similar to ginger and is a popular ingredient in medicine, cuisine, and skin care. But one surprising quality of turmeric is that it has the ability to tell the brain to ramp up its production of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF).
BDNF is a hormone that tells the brain to perform at higher function levels. It involves neurons making new connections, thereby multiplying and increasing in number, and allowing the brain to learn and retain more information (11).
Turmeric contains an important element called Curcumin. This brightly colored polyphenol gives turmeric its golden color. 21st century science has discovered its huge potential in helping cancer patients recover faster; besides it also prevents chronic diseases due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
9.Brahmi tea. (Brahmi in Sanskrit), or Bacopa tea as in bacopa monnieri is an Ayurvedic medicine staple. Besides containing powerful antioxidants; studies show it is also a popular neuro-tropic which, can improve information retention and spatial learning (12). It helps in the reduction of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms (13). These symptoms include restlessness, impulsivity, self-control, and focus. Drinking Brahmi tea may also help in the prevention of stress and anxiety. This is becuase brahmi, is an adaptogenic herb that helps increase your resistance to stress.
Source: Good Mama's Bacopa Brahmi Tea Mix packs for Memory and Brain Health
10.Oolong tea is another sibling of green, white, black, and yellow teas. It also comes from the Camellia Saneness plant but traces its origins to 500 years ago. Oolong tea contains more caffeine compared to green tea, and that can boost your metabolism more than some other teas. This makes it more stimulating by enhancing cognitive skills and motor skills. Its high caffeine content also increases dopamine and norepinephrine release, which work together to improve mood and brain health(14).
Source: T's , Roasted Iron Goddess, (Black Roasted Oolong Tea)
11.White tea. This is the freshest and least processed of the teas from the Camellia sinensis plant. It contains a large amount of antioxidants like the polyphenol EGCG. EGCG has shown great potential against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (15). It helps prevent certain proteins from clumping and damaging nerves, which is a common risk factor for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease(16).
12.Peppermint tea. This is the best tea for freshness, digestion, and soothes stomach-aches, cramps and heartburn. The menthol element in peppermint breaks phlegm while thinning mucus at the same time.
13.Lavender tea. University of Maryland Medical Center found that Inhaling of lavender tea’s steam may slow nervous system activity, promoting relaxation and calm. Lavender flowers, essential oils are used to treat headaches and exhaustion. Drinking a cup of Lavender tea before sleeping can take away anxiety and stress, even if it is a temporary function.
Source: Organic facts, Home made Lavender Tea
14.Dandelion Detox – featuring dandelion root, nestle, milk thistle and burdock root to flush toxins and support liver function. Immune Boost – featuring Echinacea, rosehips and dandelion to jumpstart the immune response and flush toxins from the body (17).
Source: The Healthy, What you need to know about Dandolian root and detox
15. Holy Basil (Tulsi) Tea. Herbal teas are currently more often being marketed as functional blends with particular uses, such as Organic India’s “Balance” tea—a blend of ginger, peppermint, licorice, tulsi and probiotic cultures—that is meant to support digestive health.
Holy Basil (Tulsi) Tea
The following are the top 5 herbal tea brands in terms of retail value in the United States according to Euro monitor International (18) :
- Yogi Tea (East West Tea Co LLC)
- Traditional Medicinal
- Herb life Nutrition
- Lipton (Unilever Group)
* Millennials are those who were born between 1981 and 1996; Generation Z or “Gen Z” are those born between 1997 and 2012.
Disclaimer: This Blog is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home herbs and teas that are not scientifically authenticated..
A Brief on Mind/ Brain – Yogic and Ayurvedic philosophy
English dictionaries describe ‘mind’ in many ways, but in The Yogic culture there is nothing called mind, however, there is the ‘Brain’ and ‘Body’. Sharp intellect doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy mind in Yogic or Ayurveda Sciences.
For the purpose of this blog we are treating Mind and Brain to be the same, as people would like to improve their memory and cognitive brain remain intact well into the aging process.
The four compartments of our Brains according to Yogic & Ayurveda philosophy, the ancient science of human body (the 4 elements) and wellness are called - budhi, manas, chitta and ahankara. Manas generates all active thoughts, Chitta the subconscious, ahamkara the false ego. Manas can be taken as synonymous to actions like the waves in an ocean that come and go, or rise and fall, but some may be jumpier and start affecting you. These jumpy thoughts both creative, positive, negative or neutral keep recurring and go into your subconscious and get stored in Chitta, the repository (storage box/memory box).
Steve Correa in his blog writes, “One’s thoughts are hashed and rehashes of one’s own retained thoughts. Nothing new can be experienced. This process of regurgitation of thought is what is described as intellect. Intellect is the socialized process of education of ‘learnt thoughts’. It is quite different to intelligence. Intellect wants to dissect everything. It continues to ask questions. The intellect can only doubt, not trust. For trust comes from intelligence” (20).
Chitta lets us think, imagine, feel and process according to our intellect. Budhi is our intellect and capacitor that perceives and reacts by processing each new thought and may send it to Chitta (back and forth) or act on it (Example: speaking or getting angry; or I jumped from the bridge because I was devastated with the news but shouldn’t have done it).
Ahamkara is the ‘I’ness or ‘mind-ness’ or ego –to act and create delusion (the feeling that, you are better than everyone or superior than your siblings). Manas is our belief system from the thoughts.
Manas and Chitta are the repository systems in our minds, and are constantly interacting in a smooth flow and responsible for our personalities. Chitta (intelligence) is where the creation happens from the data stored.
Culture the thoughts in the right direction, manas tends to internalize them and here in manas is what we all desire to be - the positive beings, affirmative or manifesting repeatedly to win, succeed and reach our self-actualization goals in life. Some thoughts become speech and others turn into actions. Thoughts become beliefs and actions –and Karma is, which become permanently stored in the Chitta.
Finally, the Four Functions of Mind operate at the various levels of consciousness. In the waking state of consciousness, the four operate. In the dreaming state, the four operate. In the deep sleep state, the four functions become less active, as if they are partially receding back into the latent part of mind, the Chitta from which all of the activity arises in the dreaming and waking states.