The word “Nirvana” has many meanings, depending on whether you are looking at it from a Buddhist or Hindu perspective. In a nutshell, Nirvana is “any place or condition of great peace or bliss”—essentially what Westerners would consider to be Heaven, or the Summerland, or Elysium.
All teas (except herbal infusions, rooibos, and mate), such as black, green, white, and oolong are produced from the Camelia sinensis plant. What they have in common is that they all contain very high concentrations of polyphenols, flavanoids, and catechins (strongest in green tea, but is also found in other types such as oolong, black, and white), which are antioxidants. They also contain theanine, an amino acid specific to tea; vitamins and minerals; and more. Herbal teas which are not derived from this plant also have health benefits, but these benefits come directly from the fruits, herbs, and other ingredients from which they are made.
Eastern healing traditions such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese Medicine have always recognized the medicinal benefits of drinking tea. Western medicine is starting to recognize this as well. More and more studies are finding that drinking several cups of the right kinds of tea on a daily basis can have cardiovascular, anti-cancer, mental health, weight management, and other health advantages.
Green tea is especially valuable, since it contains the highest amount of catechins. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties.”
In aesthetics, we talk about how the skin reveals any disorder or imbalance that is happening inside the body. Thus, we treat the skin not only by applying antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients on the outside, but also by nourishing and detoxifying the body on the inside. The antioxidants and other components of tea do just that.
I have always enjoyed drinking tea. Herbal teas, mostly, but I have recently become aware how healthy the other teas are. I typically purchased higher-end teas from health food stores, in teabag form. I had seen loose tea before, and had tried it, but I found it to be too messy for me to deal with. I never drank tea for its caffeine content…I always depended on my morning coffee for that. I drank tea for relaxation, and if I felt I was getting sick.
All that changed when I went to Teavana. Teavana is a tea bar/emporium whose name is meant to imply that it is the “heaven of tea.” I was aware of the store’s existence, and always enjoyed seeing the pretty tea accoutrements in its window as I passed by, but had never gone in.
Well, I was window shopping one evening, and was greeted at their entrance with an offering of tea. Of course I accepted, and from that first sip I was hooked. I sampled each tea they had available and each one was better than the last. Of course I had to buy some. After a tough deliberation, I decided to try four ounces of the tea that had brought me into the store in the first place, a delightful acai berry and tropical fruit-flavored white tea called Youthberry.
The salesperson opened a large canister of tea and I noticed that it looked nothing like any tea I had ever seen before. It looked more like an arrangement of dried fruits and herbs. I could actually identify the fruits that were in the tea.
This was a far cry from the tiny little particles of tea “dust” (as he so eloquently put it) that I was used to seeing in my tea bags.
The salesperson explained that loose teas are less processed, and retain their unique flavors and health benefits better than commercially produced bagged teas. This is quite logical when you consider that any whole food is healthier and more flavorful than its processed counterpart.
I took my canister home and immediately tried the tea in the little tea ball I already owned. The large pieces of fruits and tea leaves hardly fit into it, and I ended up with a mess, just like I did with my previous loose tea experience. I remembered seeing pretty tea infusers on Teavana’s shelves, so I figured that would be a better method for me than my little tea ball. Larger tea balls are available than the one I had, but since I like to have a few cups at a time, an infuser would brew a larger quantity than the ball.
I ended up finding a French coffee press on sale that appeared to do the same thing as the tea infusers. Instead of using coarse coffee grounds, I brewed my Youthberry tea.
It came out absolutely delicious. In fact, I decided at that moment that I would give up coffee completely and switch to Teavana tea.
Most teas (except herbal) contain caffeine just like coffee, but instead of aggravating the digestive system like coffee can, tea is known to aid it. So I can get my boost of energy without the acid reflux coffee gives me. Plus, I don’t add sweetener to my tea, so I am consuming less sugar by switching to tea.
So I went to Teavana’s website and ordered two-ounce samplings of different flavors and varieties. I also found out that Teavana supports Fair Trade (EquaTrade) and has partnered with CARE to give back and make a positive impact on tea-growing communities.
So far my switch has been fine. I don’t feel tired during the day (any more so than I did with drinking coffee), plus I enjoy the different flavors and varieties so much that I am drinking more of it than I ever could drink of coffee. This way I am ensuring adequate water intake, which we all know we need. In addition, I feel much more relaxed. I am definitely benefiting from the aromatherapeutic effects of the tea.
So do yourself a favor and give loose tea a try. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you in Teavana.