The Humble Superfood
In the age of the superfood we're looking for our food to give us more than simple physical nourishment, we want our food to be enlightened and to nourish us spiritually. Food has evolved from conventional to aspirational and next, to evangelical. Some foods once revered have fallen out of trend. Some others have recently hit the main stream with exotic origins and spiritual promises.
In this superfood crazed society, I'm here to draw attention back to tea. Tea has been our faithful servant and giver. It was there for us when we wanted an alternative caffeine source, it was there when we were looking for something to boost metabolism and stimulate weight loss, it is there for us now while we are searching for antioxidant, specifically catechin, -rich foods to help combat cancer proliferating free radicals, and tea is there for us while we're venturing into the next wave of demands on our foods, to feed our spirit. This is, I believe, the real power of tea. It is why I was drawn to tea even before I knew the scientific reason behind its abilities.
We are searching for foods that give us life force, transcendence, and spiritual nourishment. To fill these demands I offer you tea.
A high quality cup of tea has been experimentally and clinically shown to reduce anxiety, increase your body's ability to promote a feeling of well-being, and send our brains into the wakeful resting alpha brain wave state, the same state achieved during meditation. Pretty incredible huh?!
And I bet we've all experienced this to some degree or another. We all know tea has a calming affect. It can make a bad day turn out okay. Well guess what, that's not just a figment of your imagination, the tea is actually changing your brain chemistry to make you feel better.
Tea has a very special amino acid, biologically active L-Theanine. L-Theanine has only ever been found in the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, and some rare, poisonous mushroom. Why L-Theanine is so incredible is its molecular structure is nearly identical to a neurotransmitter our bodies create, GABA. Neurotransmitters are the endogenous chemicals responsible for the physical reactions our bodies experience when a thought or feeling is generated. Adrenaline is a well known neurotransmitter that makes our heart race, increases our breathing, and makes us feel uneasy. GABA, is essentially the opposite of adrenaline. GABA calms us, relieves anxiety, and triggers the release of dopamine and serotonine. It has even been observed that our brains will enter into the alpha wave production state with increased GABA production. This is the same brain wave state as observed during meditation. Now, back to L-Theanine. Because the molecular structure of L-Theanine is so similar to that of GABA, consuming L-Theanine enhances and even stimulates our body's natural ability to enter this state of well-being. So it actually is all in your head, but not figuratively speaking.
So I invite you to reconsider this humble beverage. True tea has so much more to offer us then we've ever given it credit for in the past. Maybe it's because true tea in America is hard to come by, or the pharmaceutical industry wants to sell us pills rather than allow us to find natural sources of anxiety relief.
I'm still researching what teas have the highest amounts of L-Theanine but I do have some insights I can share:
In general, tea is harvested beginning in the early spring and lasting through the fall. The first harvest of the season is referred to as the First Flush. This is the prized harvest of each year because it produces the most flavorful tea. Reason being is all the chemical compounds in the tea have built up while the plant laid dormant over the winter months. These compounds include antioxidants, flavanoids, proteins, vitamins, and the all important L-Theanine. Therefore, it seems to reason the first harvest of the season will have the highest amount of L-Theanine. The second harvest, or Second Flush, will come in close second. Beyond these two harvests, teas are rarely distinguished by this factor. And, I don't believe the type of tea (white, green, yellow, oolong, black, puer/dark) necessarily changes the level of L-Theanine. The processing techniques that differentiate the six tea families don't have an affect on the amino acid content of the leaf. This doesn't hold true for antioxidants though, so the completely unoxidized teas, green teas, will have the most antioxidants. So if it's antioxidants, catechins, and/or EGCG you're looking for, you can't do better than a ceremonial grade matcha.
I will continue to research L-Theanine content in tea and how the cultivar, growing conditions, harvest, and processing affect the final loose leaf tea. But for now I can share with you what teas I've been gravitating to that I know give me that feeling of well-being. The first is a 2017 First Flush Darjeeling from the Castleton Estate we have in the shop right now. And another is called Iccha Kariban, a 2018 shincha (Japanese first flush) from the Kagoshima Prefecture, we just got in. Drinking these teas raise my vibrational level and just make me feel like everything is just as it is supposed to be.
Stay tuned as I dive deeper into this subject. I believe it will give me a scientific reasoning behind what I have thought all along about tea and is why I started this business; that introducing a true tea practice into everyone's life will unlock a level of collective conscious that will truly be revolutionary.