holistic health magazine




Health Stor

Get Loose!
Loose Tea has many uses and benefits

by Donna Tokugawa


Holistic Health Newsletter!


Get 20% Off Healthy Healing's Natural Weight Loss Program Learn more

About Share Guide

Holistic Health Articles

Health Directory




Contact us

Do you have a
Holistic Business?
Get listed in Share Guide's Holistic Health Directory for only $9.95 per month. For more info
Click Here

An unknown Chinese tea exporter sent a tiny silk bag containing a sample of tea leaves to the New York coffee merchant Thomas Sullivan. Perhaps unsure of just how to prepare tea, the sample tea leaves AND bag was mistakenly added directly to a pot of boiling water. It may well have been this error that gave Sullivan the idea to become a coffee AND tea merchant, I am not sure. But history does show that in 1904 Sullivan began using a patented teabag commercially.  I am sure the Chinese exporter was proud to find a new market for his tea in America. I would guess as he described his new customers’ style of enjoying tea to his experienced tea drinking friends they enjoyed a good laugh. Soon a Chinese inventor invented the tea shredder, allowing tea dust to be placed into a bag easily.

Today if you walk down the isle of any supermarket or read the most recent news on natural remedies, you are likely to see the word TEA. As the saying goes, tea is hot!

I feel fortunate to be living in a time with such awareness about this ancient miracle plant. We are now hearing about many interesting recipes or ideas on how to use tea to enhance the flavor of foods or drinks, increase health, beauty, peace of mind, and overall wellness. Unfortunately, in many cases the focus is still on using teabags. Of course, the benefit of a teabag is the ease of use. However, I think for the most part teabags fall short in delivering the best tea has to offer.
These days there are many more choices to select from, including organically grown teas, allowing for wider variety of flavors and aromas. It is believed that over 5,000 different teas exist in the world currently.  All tea comes from a single type of plant, the camellia sinensis, just as all wine comes from vitis vinifera.  Within each of these plant families there are several varieties. In addition to the specific variety, the environment, weather, and of course the tea master (or wine maker) all play a role in making each tea different. Every country has its own nuances--just as the differences in a wine from France, Italy, or California are easily recognized, soon you will know if your tea is from Japan, China, Taiwan, India, or beyond. Experience and celebrate the differences within the world via a cup of tea.
By selecting loose leaf tea, you have the additional option of actually adding some of the plant to your daily food intake. Scientific and medical research tells us drinking tea may improve our health. But it goes further to say some of the beneficial components in tea are not water soluble and so ingesting the leaf may provide even greater benefits. With teas such as Matcha (ceremonial tea) or Sencha (Japanese green tea), some of the actual leaf slips into your cup. In Japan it is common to eat the very fine fresh Shincha (first harvest Sencha) or Gyokuro (shaded green tea) leaves, after enjoying the brew. Simply add a little dressing and eat the brewed leaf like a small salad or add them to a stir fry or rice dish. I have eaten brewed tea leaves several way--they are delicious and full of vitamin A, vitamin E and protein.
Good quality loose leaf tea can be re-infused several times. The most important thing to remember when brewing tea is to brew only what you can serve into your cup or serving pot at one time. Steep your tea and then pour ALL of the liquor off the leaves into your cup or serving pot. This practice allows you to then re-infuse your leaf with more hot water over and over again. Brewing tea in this way is also the trick to keeping your green teas from turning bitter or your black teas from becoming burnt tasting. Most high quality loose leaf teas can be re-infused 5 or 6 times, with some Puerh or Oolongs giving up to 10-12 infusions from a single serving. This makes the actual cost per serving of premium loose leaf teas very inexpensive.
The cost of loose leaf is often significantly less than teabags. When you look at a box of teabags in your grocery store, it is common to see prices from $3-$8 per package with only 15 or 20 teabags enclosed. So you might think 20 or 40 cents a bag; however if you look carefully, you’ll see only 1.1 oz to 1.6 oz of total weight. This makes these seemingly inexpensive boxes average $40-$90 per pound! And tea packaged in the stylish sachets is often priced in excess of $150 per pound. The fact is teabags require more packaging than loose leaf, and as we all know, that has a cost on our environment.
Once you have brewed and enjoyed your tea try some of these practices from Asia to extract even more benefit from your leaves. 

* In the Kitchen
Place a small dish of used leaves in the refrigerator to keep it smelling fresh.  You can also wipe cutting boards, frying pans, or cooking utensils with used tea leaves to clean them.  Rubbing used leaves between your hands will remove onion odor from your skin and also gives your hands a nice soft feel.
My husband uses our old tea leaves to clean his wok after stir frying vegetables. This cleans and eliminates the oil. Detergents will clean it, but they also remove the wok’s time honored seasoning.

* Prevent Rust
The tannin contained in green tea reacts with iron and forms a film on the surface. By wiping iron kettles or iron pans with used tea leaves, the worry of rust is gone.

* Clean Your Home
Spread well drained used leaves on hard surface floors and then simply sweep clean. It is common to see Chinese restaurants using this trick to clean oils from the kitchen floor. Place used leaves in a tightly tied clean rag and use to polish your wood furniture. The luster will amaze you.

* Keep Shoes Fresh and Odor Free
Tea’s anti-bacterial effects make it a perfect choice for your shoes. Dry leaves thoroughly by roasting in a pan, then wrap them in a piece of gauze and tuck into an old clean sock. Place this in your shoe closet or right into gym shoes for extra smelly relief.

* Use in Your Garden
Of course we can compost with tea leaves, but did you know adding leaves at the base of your roses helps with pesky pests? Your acid-loving plants will bloom even longer with a nice big pile of used leaves worked into the soil around them.

Brewing loose leaf tea is very easy once you know just a few simple tricks. The benefits compared to using a teabag are many.  I can think of no other single plant that has contributed so positively to mankind for as long, or in as many ways. Whether you are consuming tea for the numerous health benefits, eating tea for new and different experiences, or using tea to enrich your spiritual practices, I encourage you to consider forgoing the ease of teabags in favor of the wide world of loose leaf tea.

Donna Tokugawa is one of the founding directors of The Wellness Gardens, a non-profit organization based in Bodega Bay focused on prevention and coping with cancer and other degenerative diseases with the use of horticultural therapy and healthy lifestyles. She is also one of the co-owners of Chado-En, a premium loose leaf tea company located in Sonoma County. For more information visit www.thewellnessgardens.org and www.chadoen.com.


Natural Weight Loss Program recommended by The Share Guide Learn More

freeIf you liked this article, you'll love The Share Guide's
Holistic Health Newsletter. Subscribe for free!

Home Health Directory Articles Index Interviews Index

Health Store Links About Share Guide Contact us

About Share Guide


Health Directory



Contact us

Free Media Kit

Get Newsletter

Avertising Info
Subscribe to magazine

Search this site

copyright 2008--The Share Guide--All rights reserved