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Just the TEA facts, please!

As the most widely consumed beverage in the world other than water, tea can still be a mystery to some people.

Tea is steeped in many traditions and legends and the history of tea is quite fascinating – but the Western World may still be playing catch up with the east on many things tea. For instance, it wasn’t until 1905 that the tea plant received its official Latin name, Camellia sinensis. Many western scientists at the time were not aware that Black, Green, Oolong and White tea production all came from this single tea plant.

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Image courtesy of plantoftheweek.org

One of the biggest misconceptions about tea is the caffeine levelwhich is less than half that of coffee. Add to that all the heath benefits in tea, plus the fact that tea contains no sodium, fat, carbonation, sugar and is virtually calorie-free, and you don’t have to be able to read the tea leaves to see all the advantages of enjoying your tea.

Here are some more interesting tea facts for you, while you wait for the pot to boil:

  • On any given day, about half of the American population drinks tea. On a regional basis, the South and Northeast have the greatest concentration of tea drinkers.
  • The tea plant Camellia sinensis can grow over 30 feet in height, but most tea plantations keep the plant trimmed to about waist-height so the leaves can be plucked easily at harvest time.
  • It was actually Dutch traders who were the first to bring tea to the West in the early 1600s, and it quickly became an important staple of trade for many countries.
  • And yes, it is true that the only tea plantation in North America is Bigelow’s Charleston Tea Plantation, located on Wadmalaw Island, just south of Charleston, South Carolina!

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Charleston Tea Plantation


March is National Caffeine Awareness Month?

Most people have a favorite beverage. Whether it’s tea or coffee or any number of soft drinks — many contain caffeine. As the health-conscious consumer, you want to ensure that you know just what your “caffeine routine” is. National Caffeine Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to do just that. About 80% of Americans consume caffeine in at least one drink a day. When you drink Bigelow Tea, you’re consuming far less caffeine than with coffee. Look at it this way: one cup of coffee has about 100-120mg of caffeine in comparison to black or green teas, which have between 25–60mg.  That’s a big difference!  Especially if you enjoy your Bigelow Tea favorites often through the day, as many do.

CaffeineMeter

The Caffeine Awareness Association works to educate people on the consumption of caffeine. Test your caffeine smarts and be proactive about your daily intake. Controlling your caffeine is just one more of the many great reasons to drink Bigelow tea, (a very tasty and calming experience in itself!). Of course you can always choose one of Bigelow Tea’s outstanding decaf tea varieties, all listed here…how about a delicious Green Tea with Lemon Decaf…?

Green Tea with Lemon Decaf

…or a French Vanilla Decaf…

French Vanilla Decaf

…or if you can’t decide, try the Bigelow Tea Decaffeinated Assortment Pack

Bigelow Tea Decaffeinated Assortment

And what if you’re favorite tea flavor doesn’t come in decaf?  You don’t need to switch — just check out this great video from Cindi Bigelow and learn how to decaffeinate your tea yourself!

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Urban Tea Legends!

Legend is that tea began in ancient China 5,000 years ago. Shen Nung, a Chinese emperor issued an edict requiring that drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day some dried leaves from a bush fell into a pot of boiling water at the palace, and tea was created. Certainly sounds plausible…but 5,000 years later can you believe the urban legends about tea going around?

We’ve all heard some urban legends (no, not Keith Urban!), those sometimes plausible-sounding but false stories on your e-mail and all across the web. Well, there are several tea urban legends too, like on hot summer days you can cool off with hot tea — it makes sweat, cooling your skin. But it’s not so. For one reason the heat lost by sweating and evaporation on the skin is exceeded by the heat gained by the hot drink.

Another urban tea legend is that tea is a diuretic, which does not have to be true. Tea does not have a diuretic effect due to caffeine unless the amount of tea consumed at one sitting is more than 250–300 mg caffeine, or between five and six cups. In fact, the British Dietetic Association advises that “Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink.” And the popular belief is that water is the best for hydration, but tea has additional positive benefits over water.

And the myth that tea contains as much or more caffeine than coffee? It’s the contrary; according to the American Dietetic Association, a cup of tea averages 40 mg of caffeine, compared to 85 plus mg found in a cup of brewed coffee. So enjoy that cup of tea, it’s refreshing and healthful, and that’s no legend.

The Skinny On: Tea

For many, the new year is a time for getting in shape. For over 40 years, Weight Watchers has been helping people get active and lose weight in a healthy way. Recently, it seems that they too have taken an interest in tea and its many benefits. In one section of their site, “The Skinny On…”, they offer some wonderful information about tea.

For starters, it helps to know the basic differences between tea. There are true teas like white and green, coming from the same ‘Camellia Sinensis’ plant, and herbal teas like chamomile, which is an infusion of herbs and tea in hot water. Of course, the possible health benefits of tea are in there as well. Oolong tea has been all the rage lately and has been linked to longevity, and in keeping with the goal of Weight Watchers, green tea has been linked to weight loss.

Another benefit of tea is that it has about half the caffeine as a cup of coffee, so it won’t keep you up at night. However, for some people, any caffeine at all is too much. Check out this great video by Cindi Bigelow, President, on how to decaffeinate your own tea:

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The many possible benefits of tea are constantly being discovered. For even more potential New Year Tea-lutions, click here!

Top 10 Reasons to Drink Tea Other than ALL the Feel-Good Ones

Last month, Lynn Grieger of yourtotalhealth, a service provided by NBC and iVillage, reported the top 10 health benefits of drinking tea:

  1. Tea contains antioxidants, which protect your body.
  2. Tea has less caffeine than coffee.  According to the article, coffee has two to three times more caffeine, which can lead to the jitters, headaches and sleeplessness.
  3. Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  4. Tea protects your bones.
  5. Tea gives you healthier teeth and gums.
  6. Tea boosts your immune system.
  7. Tea protects against cancer.
  8. Tea helps you keep hydrated.  It turns out caffeinated beverages like tea really don’t have an adverse effect on hydration and research has shown, they contribute to fluid needs as long as you don’t drink more than 5 or 6 cups at one time.
  9. Tea is calorie-free.
  10. Tea increases your metabolism.

As Ms. Grieger challenges, “see if you’re ready to change your Starbucks order!”

More Reasons to Go for the Green! Green Tea that is…

A recent article in TODAY  provides more evidence about the benefits of green tea.  A new study, conducted at the University of Arizona, looked at the antioxidant properties of green tea.  Researchers studied 42 healthy individuals who were given four capsules of green tea extract every morning for a month.  The results were very favorable. 

Participants who began the study with the lowest levels of the detoxification enzymes known as glutathione S-transferase or GST saw the greatest results.  For these individuals, GST levels increased by 80%.  This is important because GST helps the body defend itself against toxic and cancer-causing compounds found in both a person’s genetic makeup and in the environment.

Green tea contains catechins that also contain antioxidant properties, according to dietitian Charles Lew from Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Catechins may help the free radical damage often associated with certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.

The article goes on to cite green tea as a healthy beverage choice because it contains six times less caffeine than coffee and is virtually calorie free.  More good about the green?  Additional recent studies have also shown green tea catechins to have anti-inflammatory properties, which in turn, may help people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown.

Go for the green…green tea! 

How Much Buzz is Too Much?

Okay, I realize the new buzz in beverages is “buzz”…how much caffeine you can put in your body to “jack you up”.  Well I am not claiming to be a doctor but I think at some point, the caffeine we put in our bodies reaches a point that is over the top. 

I had always read in different periodicals, that the maximum you should put in your body is around 300 milligrams a day.  Sounded fair, as that would be about 6 cups of tea or 3 cups of “regular” coffee.  So the other day I opened up a magazine (InStyle, Feb 2008) and there is a section called, HOW MUCH CAFFEINE MEASURES UP.  In it, it states that the National Sleep Foundation recommends consuming no more than 240 mg. a day-okay, that seemed pretty reasonable as well.  Then they listed some popular products and their caffeine count.  I was delighted to see our Bigelow Earl Grey listed and it stated that one cup had 40 mg. (yeap), but then it listed a very popular chain coffee-a Grande had 550 MILLIGRAMS. 

All I can say is HOLY COW.  If that is what you are consuming at one sitting- I would stop and take pause.  Again, I am no doctor, but at that kind of number what are we doing to our bodies??

Hey I love caffeine with the rest of them, remember I drink a good 5 cups a day, but 550 at once….all I can say is OUCH….

Okay enough lecturing, I am now going to make a cup of Earl Grey Tea-get my caffeine and not “jack myself” up to another planet!   

Cindi Bigelow