Let it be known that this blog has been hijacked today by me, Josh's wife, Liz. I'm a Registered Dietitian and lover of feeling calm. I’ll be blogging on this site going forward and I’m looking forward to it!
This morning when we woke up, the weather sort of was an indicator of the mood a lot of us have felt lately while on quarantine. Cloudy. Sullen. Dark. Cold. Unsure, even.
If you’re like me, days like this sometimes require a bit of effort on my part to enhance my mood and uplift my spirits. Sometimes a gentle movement, like yoga, is the ticket. Sometimes, curling up and reading a book helps to embrace the day. To me, today I am feeling like taking the time to brew the perfect cup of tea. Join me.
The act of making a delicious cup of tea is one of the most grounding and settling actions that I believe we all can take. So simple, yet so gratuitous. A small blip in the radar of your day and yet, while you’re doing it, you’re carving out a small moment in the chaos for you and your mind.
To make this fun, I want to bring you through a guide of some of the most popular teas and how to brew them. I never even knew that different types of teas required a bit of a different touch of care, but they do and wow, the difference is amazing.
The type of tea that we brew for ourselves can certainly alter our moods or health in many ways. Black, green, and white teas (which actually all come from the same plant Camellia Sinesis) can provide us with caffeine and the ability to clear our minds and ready us for the day or even for the moment. Herbal teas are powerful - magical, almost. If we ever were to want to feel witchy, even for a moment, brewing and extracting from herbs can be an enlightening piece of your wellness puzzle. There are an infinite number of herbs and blends that you can use for whatever purpose you are looking for. Allergy support, energy, immune function, GI movement - the list will forever go on and on. After I discuss brewing below, I’ll show you one of my favorite secret weapons in finding that ultimate calm.
Black teas can be found from all over the world and because the leaves are fired in an oven, they often provide complex, warm and toasty flavors . Drinkers often enjoy black tea both black or with cream and sweeteners. Some of the most common black teas that you might see on the market are Earl Grey, Assam, and Chai.
Black teas brew best using boiling, fresh water that covers the tea for a total of 5 minutes. The cup or pot should be covered during the steeping process. Once the five minutes is complete, discard the tea or tea bag, add your favorite additions or enjoy straight!
Green teas come from many countries around the world such as India and Japan - they are considered to be the most ancient of teas. Green tea is not fermented or oxidized, so the green color remains prominent. You might find green teas called Sencha, Genmaicha, and Gyokuro (if you love green tea and have not tried this one, you need to, it is incredible). They are often enjoyed straight or with some honey added.
Green teas require steeping/brewing far more gently than black teas. You should always use fresh, pure water and bring it to just before boiling. Cover the tea mug or pot and steep for 1-3 minutes only. Once complete, discard the bag/tea and add your favorite additions and enjoy!
Matcha is a special kind of tea all it’s own. Instead of being found in dried leaf form or in a tea bag, it’s powderized and comes from the most premium of green teas. Matcha is lauded for it’s high levels of antioxidants and very earthy, “green” taste. It requires a whole different type of brewing andlately has been added to the menus of specialty coffee houses and smoothie bars.
Matcha tea requires its own, very special brew proces. Talk about a ceremonial process - it’s quite amazing, actually. To brew matcha, you will need a special matcha whisk and tea bowl. Add your powder to the bowl and add fresh, pure water that is heated to just below boiling. Vigorously whisk the powder in a zig zag motion into the water until it is frothy. Drink straight from the bowl or add to your favorite latte or smoothie.
If you do not have a matcha whisk and tea bowl don’t worry, you can also do the following:
These brews or even concoctions if you will, are made by long steeping the bark/stems/leaves or seeds of various herbs/spices to reveal a powerful potion of wellness for whatever might ail you. Some examples might be chamomile, elderberry, ginger, and Pau d’ Arco (the tea Josh’s mom used to make him drink when he was sick as a kid, while he hates the taste he still swears by it, thanks mom) just to name a few!
To properly brew/steep herbals, you want to use fresh, pure water that has been heated to boiling. Pour over your herbal blend, cover, and let steep for at least 10 minutes to harness the power of the herbs. While you can steep for less time, if you want your herbal tea to be therapeutic in nature, 10 minutes is minimum. Discard the tea/bag after its steep time and enjoy your brew.
Kava Kava Root
Kava is one of the most potent, calm-inducing substances that you can ingest - at least to me, anyway!
Keep in mind you should not mix Kava with medications that cause sedation such as benzodiazepines and sleeping medications, among others. Before starting Kava, or any other supplement, you should consult your doctor first.
A little primer on kava root. Kava kava has long been lauded for its ability to promote calm and a positive mood. (Sign me up!) Kava kava is a beverage made from the roots and rhizome of a tropical shrub that is cultivated throughout the Pacific Islands for its ability to promote positive wellbeing and pleasant relaxation without affecting mental clarity.
Kava kava is neither intoxicating like alcohol nor stimulating like coffee. It has a nearly 3,000 year history of use as a safe and effective way to promote a state of mental wellbeing that is accompanied by marked physical relaxation. Expect to feel relaxed, at peace, and ready to socialize. *Since it can calm you very much (but not intoxicate you), it is suggested to try kava tea for the first time at home without plans to drive or operate heavy machinery.*
At Rooted Nutrition, Josh searched high and low, obsessively curating only the purest of products that he could find, as we all know by now how important quality and purity are to him. Our kava comes exclusively from Roots of Happiness Kava, who sources their kava products ethically throughout the Pacific Islands. Their farmers are paid a fair wage and all of the kavas are grown in the traditional manner without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
Preparing kava can be quite a process, so if you enjoy something like that, this is for you. We also have concentrates, extracts, and instant powders if you prefer a quicker method. Here is a great blog article by our friends at Root of Happiness Kava on how to brew it and what you need!
Interestingly enough, as is with many plants and herbs, where the kava is grown in the islands can affect its effect. Each island has its own cultivars, each of which contains many different and distinct chemotypes, causing them to have different effects. So when using Kava make sure you know which cultivar you are using. Here are some examples:
Our Samoan Kava Powder is known to reduce frustration and tension while promoting relaxation.
Our Micronesia Kava Powder is a real crowd pleaser and you'll soon see why. It's smooth and potent with an excellent chemotype that leans towards strong physical relaxation.
The taste and potency of our Vanuatu Kava Powder make it my favorite for everyday use:
Our instant version of Vanuatu Kava Powder makes it easy and smooth to enjoy Kava - you just add a little to water! Easy.
Solomon Island Kava is known for its strongly sedating properties and this Kava does not disappoint. Its strong peppery flavor leaves the mouth numb, indicating its formidable potency.
My favorite kava product that we have is a concentrate that you can carry with you on the go (my type of product!). Whenever I feel the need for some calm, I can put a small bit under my tongue and presto - it helps! It makes your mouth numb too (as all good kava should, don’t worry it goes away after a few minutes), which is kind of fun!
There are a lot of other Kava Powders that we carry from Root of Happiness Kava - they can be found here and you can peruse and find the perfect kava for your needs! We even carry the tools needed to prepare Kava traditionally!
If you would like to see how these Kava products are produced you can take a virtual tour of their California facility here:
So, there you have it - my favorite way on days like this to find some calm and just take a few moments to focus on something that brings my mind away from the chaos of the world.