A Tastier Green Tea Option?

You know how fond I am of green tea for all its many health benefits – and if you are trying to lose weight then it is helpful in that area as well as taking care of your heart – but I know many of you don’t find it entirely palatable. Happily, there are ways around it from adding lemon and honey to finding a tea which has a taste you enjoy and I might have just the thing for you that comes from Vietnam.

If you have ever visited that country then you may have been given Vietnamese lotus tea – a type of green tea flavoured with the scent of the Lotus Flower. It is a specialty product of the Vietnamese tea industry and drunk as part of celebratory events or festivals as it seen as something rather special. The unique floral taste adds a whole new dimension to green tea and if you are fond of jasmine tea after a Chinese meal then it could hit just the right spot for you.

The traditional way to produce Lotus Tea involves using only the stamen of the Lotus flower and infusing it with green tea leaves and although there are several modern versions of the tea on the market now they are using flavourings or perfumes. For the authentic taste of Vietnamese lotus tea you need the actual ingredient, not a flavour, and that has become available in the UK for the first time from Natural Boutique.

They have a wide range of health giving teas, including an Artichoke tea which helps digestion and a rare and exotic Green and Java tea for aiding weight loss. If you can’t find Natural Boutique’s Vietnamese Lotus Tea in your local health store then visit the website at www.drinkherbaltea.co.uk.

Matcha Magic for New Year Health

January 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Health


As my regular readers will know, I am a great fan of green tea and if you want the absolute best for your health then you need Japanese matcha which is a very rare and special green tea. It is full of antioxidants, helps raise energy levels, elevates mood, lowers cholesterol, is anti-ageing, can help with weight loss, help prevent heart disease and can boost your metabolism by up to 40 per cent.

Organic matcha from specialty company Teapigs comes from the renowned Nishio region in Japan, where the tea leaves are grown under cover for the last few weeks to produce the maximum amount of amino acids and the chlorophyll that gives it the green colour. The leaves are then dried and very slowly ground by a granite stone to a very fine powder, which is then packed and sealed immediately to lock in all the nutrients. Just a quarter teaspoon of this bright green powder gives you the same health benefits as equivalent of 15 cups of regular green tea and contains 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice, 90 times the beta carotene of spinach plus vitamins A, B and C.

What more can you want? The thing I particularly like about green tea is that it is both energising and calming and because matcha is a fine powder that you mix with hot or cold liquid there is no waste as you have the whole leaf in powder form. Matcha can be drunk like any normal green tea – with hot water – though I prefer to start the day with it on an empty stomach and mix it with juice or a smoothie. It feels odd to be glugging down a green liquid, but the result is worth it. When I am packing for a stint as a speaker on a cruise ship, it’s the first thing into the case!

If you have had an overindulgent Christmas and New Year followed by this debilitating cold weather then that can really impact your health. A simple way to remedy that is to use matcha in a smoothie recipe for breakfast to set you up for the day. This delicious recipe was devised at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant in London.

In a blender put the following:

2g (approx 1/2 teaspoon) matcha

1/2 apple

1/4 stick celery

2 sprigs mint

1/2 banana

1/2 pear

Blend and drink- delicious

20% Off To Try it!

If you want to try matcha, just use the code superhero at the checkout stage and you’ll get a 20% discount off your purchase of teapigs organic matcha. It’s only valid until 31st January so go to the website if you want to order at www.teapigs.co.uk

Tea fights diabetes

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Natural Medicine


I grew up in a family where several members drank black tea, meaning without milk, but really it just applies to the type of tea. Black tea, long known for its antioxidants, immune boosting and antihypertensive properties, could also help treat diabetes.

Researchers studied the polysaccharide levels of green, oolong and black teas because polysaccharides are a type of carbohydrate that includes starch and cellulose which help retard absorption of glucose.

The researchers found that of the three teas, the polysaccharides in black tea had the most glucose-inhibiting properties and their polysaccharides also showed the highest scavenging effect on free radicals, which are involved in the onset of diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

In another recent study, participants who drank black tea had significantly reduced plasma glucose concentrations after two hours, compared to those who drank water or caffeine drinks. Drinking black tea also increased insulin levels, compared with the other drinks.

That study linked black tea’s diabetic benefits to polyphenols (naturally occurring antioxidants) and these compounds are thought to work by stimulating your B-cells — pancreatic cells responsible for insulin production — to produce insulin in your body. A growing body of research also suggests that the polyphenols in tea can lower your cholesterol, triglyceride levels and blood pressure, and even help to protect your bones. That study linked black tea’s diabetic benefits to polyphenols (naturally occurring antioxidants), including Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), of which more below!

My Green Tea Comment:

Although black tea was found to contain more glucose inhibiting polysaccharides, green tea may still be the most beneficial tea of them all, including for diabetics. A previous study found that EGCG in green tea worked as well in moderately diabetic mice as the diabetes drug Avandia, for example.

Another study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that green tea-extract also had a positive impact on glucose abnormalities. In that study, daily supplementary intake of green tea-extract lowered the hemoglobin A1c level in individuals with borderline diabetes.

So for my money black tea is not as healthy as green tea as they undergo far more processing. Oxidation is the main deciding factor whether you have green, oolong, or black tea, and black tea undergoes the most amount of oxidation through application of high heat. Good green tea is not oxidized at all and, like the Irish fields, the greener it is the higher the quality.

Fluoride is a common contaminant in many black teas and this toxic substance can have profoundly negative effects on your body. Green tea is the least processed kind of tea, and therefore typically contains the least amount of fluoride and the most EGCG of all tea varieties, which is a very good thing for your health.

I am currently trying a new type of green tea, Matcha, which contains the entire ground tea leaf, and can contain over 100 times the EGCG provided from regular brewed green tea. I will let you know how I get on with it.

Beat gum disease with a cuppa


Now you know how fond I am of green tea, and actually I have found a new one in my supermarket made by Dr Stuart which combines green tea and rice. Sounds disgusting but actually it sweetens the green tea, and makes it more palatable and as I have just found another good reason for drinking it, I encourage you to try it. A cup of green tea per day may help keep gum disease at bay, a new study suggests.

A report in the Journal of Periodontology says that researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan found that among middle-aged Japanese men, the odds of having gum disease declined as their intake of green tea went up. For each daily cup they drank, the risk of having signs of gum disease – including receding, easily bleeding gums – went down and this may be because green tea has a high concentration of antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. Much gum disease arises from bacterial infection, and lab research suggests that green tea polyphenols can inhibit those germs and the damage they cause. It is of course no substitute for good oral hygiene and the dentist, but prevention is always better than cure – particularly when green tea has so many other health benefits as well.

Breast cancer natural preventives


As I always believe prevention is better than cure, I am happy to report two new pieces of information this week on easy, natural and enjoyable ways to reduce breast cancer risk.

Breakthrough 1 gives you even more reasons to enjoy a nice cup of tea. If you are a regular black or green tea drinker then you are already helping to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and endometrial cancer. Regular tea drinking has two important functions: it inhibits uncontrolled cell growth, known as cell proliferation, and encourages the death of cancer cells, known as apoptosis. A recent study found that smokers who drank four cups of decaffeinated green tea per day showed a 31 percent decrease in oxidative DNA damage in white blood cells as compared to those who drank four cups of water. Oxidative DNA damage is implicated in the promotion of many forms of cancer. Now a new study has also linked tea to a substantial decrease in breast cancer risk. Particularly for women under 50, the risk is reduced by 37%, and as this is the group in whom the cancer can be particularly virulent and fast acting this is very worthwhile news. In fact, let’s raise a cup together, preferably green or white tea as these are the least processed. The darker the tea, the more processing as a rule, but these two have even more health benefits, and up that to three cups a day to boost your immune system and lower your cancer risk.

Breakthrough 2 concerns another favourite staple, and that is olive oil. Australian researchers have reported that that olive oil has a host of positive health effects, and now researchers from the Catalonian Institute of Oncology (ICO) in Girona have discovered specifically that extra virgin olive oil appears to be a powerful weapon against breast cancer.

The key ingredient is the polyphenols that are present in extra virgin olive oil. These are powerful natural antioxidants found in abundance in olive oil and are highly active against both HER2-positive and HER2-negative breast cancers cells. Polyphenols in the oil not only inhibit the activity of cancer-promoting HER2 activity but also promotes the protein’s degradation.

As Jamie Oliver would say, give it a good glug and not only will your food taste better, but your cells will thank you.

Upset stomach at Xmas – help!

December 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Natural Medicine, Wellness

Now I know you are going to be entirely sensible over the next few weeks, and those Christmas parties and drinks won’t tempt you to overindulge. But, if you do then it’s as well to be prepared. If you get an upset stomach that remains sensitive then slippery elm is a good supplement to help soothe any irritation – it’s also a good thing to line your stomach with if you know you are going to be faced with food or drink that might be a bit much for your system. If you are offered coffee after the meal, see if you can’t get peppermint or green tea instead as they will help you digest better. If by any mischance you need more help then there is a very good Ayurvedic recipe for tea which will help those feelings of being bloated and sluggish from too many mince pies or slices of Christmas cake. It is a blend of aniseed, fennel, cardamom, coriander and celery seeds to help purify your system, clear your mind and help your body to recover it’s normal balance. You can find Ayurvedic teas in many supermarkets and health stores, and if you have a Whittard of Chelsea’s store near you then their own Ayurvedic Detox tea will put you on the road to recovery for a very reasonable £2.30 for 20 teabags.

News on the food front – Green Tea

November 7, 2008 by  
Filed under featured, Health

First I own up to the fact I am a big fan of green tea, partly for the taste but mostly for the whole range of health benefits it brings. However, I have to concede it’s not to everyone’s taste though I may have come across a way to overcome that. Hambleden Herbs is a wholly organic company that has been around for 25 years and they have developed a range of green teas in combination with other natural ingredients that might make it more palatable if you haven’t managed to crack the green tea barrier. These really are superior teas with all organic and natural ingredients – no synthetic ‘flavours’ to be found here. If the sound of Lemon Grass and Ginger, Green Tea and Jasmine, or Green Tea and Ginger tickle your taste buds, I am afraid you might have to search them out as they don’t sell in many stores, so your best bet is probably their website at www.Hambledenherbs.com

Cut heart disease – Put on the kettle

I was giving a talk on alternative medicine on a cruise recently and mentioned the many health benefits of green tea – a substance I am very fond of. So, imagine my surprise when I went to the buffet to get a cup and couldn’t find a green tea bag anywhere. I spoke to the catering manager who couldn’t understand it either, but told me suddenly everyone was drinking green tea! So for all those converts, and those who aren’t here is another good reason to head for the green stuff – it can cut your heart disease and stroke risk in HALF! New studies on green tea (or epigallocatechin gallate to give it the proper name) show it has all these benefits:

* Lower your cholesterol counts by 9 points
* Prevent cancer cells from ever forming
* Protect DNA from mutating
* Boost production of disease-fighting T-cells
* Even prevent tooth decay

It has been called the ultimate antioxidant, and to enjoy it at its best let it steep for a couple of minutes then drink without milk or sugar. I often add some fresh mint leaves for taste although you can now buy several different flavoured varieties, and sweeten with honey if it’s not to your taste. However you drink it, try to get one or two cups a day into your routine – your health really will benefit.

Yet more benefits of green tea

As I have now trailed so many benefits of this ‘wonder’ tea, I am amazed the supermarket shelves haven’t been stripped bare, and yet here is another one. You know that it is packed with powerful antioxidants with lots of great health bonuses, but recently scientists discovered that green tea increased the effectiveness of certain antibiotics by as much as 99.99%…even when pitted against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

This was a 12-month study at Alexandria University in Egypt and the results show that green tea boosted the performance of several antibiotics used in the treatment of 28 different disease-causing bacteria — including several strains of Staphylococcus. For example, 20 percent of previously drug-resistant bacteria were killed when green tea was combined with cephalosporin. This is good news because Cephalosporin is a widely used antibiotic – however many strains of bacteria have developed immunity against it.

Green tea was also shown to effectively support the antibiotics tetracycline, cefuroxime and it helped prevent the production of beta-lactamases-substances produced by bacteria allowing them to develop resistance to antibiotics.

So if you combine drinking green tea when on antibiotics you will help them be more effective and if you are drinking it regularly anyway then hopefully you won’t need the antibiotics at all, or in such quantity.