Green tea has experienced something of a health food renaissance in the US over the last decade. But did you know that in addition to being delicious, green tea is actually medicinal? In Mandarin green tea is known as lu cha and has a place in the herbal materia medica. There are many varietals of this almost ubiquitous drink, but it is typically used for headaches, itchy eyes, stuffy sinuses, sweating out a cold, and settling the stomach.
We've all seen the Celestial Seasonings and Lipton tea bags floating around in the back of the cupboard, but if you want to get the most flavor and strongest medicinal action you'll want to pick up some loose leaf tea. Tea shops abound - my favorite are often nestled into strip malls next to Asian markets, but Teavanna (malls everywhere), the Perennial Tea Room (Pike Place Market), Baicha (Edmonds), and apothecary versions like The Herbalist and Dandelion Botanicals have made high quality tea very accessible. If you're not sure where to start, I always suggest Gunpowder for a pure green tea flavor, or Sencha for a brighter, grassier taste.
Preparation is key. This isn't a boil and dump situation. Ideal green tea temperatures range from 160-185 degrees (remember, water boils at 212). If you don't have a thermometer let your kettle boil and rest for 10-15 minutes. And steep for no more than 2 minutes. Save those leaves for second, third, and sometimes fourth and fifth steepings and watch the flavors evolve. And if you don't want the caffeine dump that first steep after about 45 seconds and you'll have a stimulant-free medicinal beverage!
If you'd like to find out more about green tea or Chinese Medicine in general visit www.AndrewBall-LAc.com, maybe we'll discuss it over a cup of tea.