Tea And Pregnancy – What Is Safe?

I have a friend who is trying to get pregnant at the moment.   She has been trying for a few months and so far, nothing.   My mind being on tea, I was curious how my favorite beverage could help her.   For this blog, you’ll need to think outside the realm of the camellia sinensis plant and include herbal tea as well.   After all, we do not want my friend to have a jumping bean in her belly due to the caffeine from a cup of green tea when she does have a child growing!

First and foremost, she needs to consult her doctor before doing anything even related to starting a regimen.   Tea regimens are not right for everyone so she could, in fact, hinder the baby if she were to start drinking tea without a doctor’s approval.

A Young Pregnant Woman (Not My Friend) Drinking Tea

A Young Pregnant Woman (Not My Friend) Drinking Tea

With that being said, Livestrong.com, dedicated to promote healthy living, states that red raspberry leaf tea is likely safe during pregnancy.   It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron and calcium.   The drink also has alkaloids from the leaf, which helps to tighten and relax the uterine muscles.   She will then have a strong, toned uterus that will make it that much easier to push a baby out!   (She does plan on doing a natural birth, last time that we talked).   The tea can also reduce the need for a C-section.

The tea has also been shown to increase milk production and decrease nausea.   As popular culture has shown, those are extremely important factors.   While it might not be safe for the first trimester, she should be able to use it for the second and third trimester without any problems.   All she would need to do is drink two cups daily.

The Livestrong website says that nettles, or stinging nettles, are also used in many pregnancy teas.   They are high in vitamin C, A and K and are also rich in calcium, potassium and iron.   Their history in the medical field is just as rich as tea is!

However, the University of Maryland Medical Center website states that they alter menstrual cycles and might cause miscarriages.   The conflicting data might be because it might depend on which part of the nettle is used for the tea.   I would suggest to her that, since there are two widely conflicting pieces of advice, to steer clear of nettles.

AmericanPregnancy.org gives a few more teas that she might want to sample when she is pregnant.   Peppermint tea would be good to help get rid of any morning sickness that might hit her.   It will also decrease any flatulence, so I am sure that her husband would appreciate that.

Lemon balm is a calming tea as one can experience by drinking it right now!   It can also relieve insomnia and anxiety, which is perfect for those nights when the baby is kicking and she just can’t rest.

Ginger root is a tea she has to be wary about.   It is said to help relieve nausea and vomiting, but the jury isn’t out if it’s safe or not.   Again, I recommend that, when in doubt, leave it out.   God forbid she drinks something and lose the baby simply because it was a questionable tea.

Dandelion tea also falls under this category.   While it is rich in a variety of different vitamins and minerals and might even help nourish the liver and relieve edema, it is not known if it is safe just yet.   She can get the nutrients somewhere else.

Chamomile is on the list for AmericanPregnancy.org as, “Insufficient Reliable Information Available,” which really surprised me.   This is perfect for the insomiac-riddled expecting mother.   But chamomile can also induce contractions, which is not good if your baby is not ready to come out yet.   She is going to need to talk to her doctor first.

Rose hip tea is also on shaky ground.   While it is great for vitamin C, it is not entirely clear how good it is and she should avoid it or, at the very least, drink it in small amounts.

She needs to steer clear of alfalfa and yellow dock tea.   While they both have their respective health benefits, it is not known if they are safe yet.

Some teas are on the market called pregnancy teas which are believed to promote health in different aspects of tea.   They are a blend of different herbs that are believed to promote a healthy pregnancy.   She should be fine drinking this tea, though the jury is not out on how much it helps.   She does need to be wary and read the packaging though.   Some of them do contain nettles.

All in all, I wish the best to her in her pregnancy endeavors and, if any of you are trying to conceive or are already carrying a young one, I wish you all the best!

A Visit to the Miller-Cory House Museum

Hello fellow tea sippers!   This past Sunday, I went over to the Miller Cory House Museum in Westfield, New Jersey for a seminar on tea.   While sadly, I was not allowed to take photographs inside the house, I did get some nice ones outside.   We also will hopefully have a guest blogger sometime in the future!



A very simple sign.   Admittedly, I drove right past and had to do a few U-turns before I actually found the house!   The houses in Westfield sometimes have that luxurious, antiquated feel to them and this was no exception.

Gorgeous Day!

Gorgeous Day!

The house, built in 1740, was built by Samuel Miller after getting married.   It was bequeathed through the family until it was sold in 1784 to Joseph Cory by Samuel’s son, Jesse Miller, for 579 pounds.   Since then, it has changed hands until the Westfield Historical Society obtained the deed in 1972.

A View of the Cory-Miller House Museum

A View of the Cory-Miller House Museum

Sadly, I was not able to take photos of the actual tea event.   However, the presenter brought in some amazing pu’erh tea, which were in bricks!   I had always read about tea in bricks but never saw it until that day.

The tea was brewing for a few hours and had a rich color, almost the shade of coffee.   It had a delightful earthy taste with a sweet undertone to it.   As the speaker said, as with wine, it simply gets better with age.

Did anyone else go to this event?   Share your thoughts, comments, photos, etc!

Tea Event Alert For Those In The Union County, New Jersey Area!

Hello fellow tea lovers!   First, I would like to extend a gracious welcome to my new viewing audience – the readers of the Union County, New Jersey Patch.   From now on, blogs that are posted on WordPress will also be found on The Patch.   Feel free to peruse both sites and, if you have any problems, questions, concerns, comments or requests, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at cafelegi@aol.com and I will be happy to help out.

And now, for anyone in the Union County, New Jersey area, I have a special treat for you.   On Sunday, March 25th, the Miller-Cory House Museum in Westfield, New Jersey will be hosting an event called “A Spot of Tea.”   It’s running from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM and will feature the history of tea as shared by a local tea expert, a display of different tea varieties, a tour of the house and a demonstration of 18th century hearth cooking with authentic ingredients and instruments.   I know that I will be there!

The Miller-Cory House Museum, Nationally Recognized as a "Living Museum"

The Miller-Cory House Museum, Nationally Recognized as a “Living Museum”

The Miller-Cory House Museum also has a rich history, if you’re interested as well!   The house was built in 1740 in the West Fields of Elizabeth, New Jersey at the crossroads of colonial America on Old York Road, the main road between New York from Philadelphia.   Now, volunteers come in traditional garb to tell you about time in the 18th century and history of the house.

The Miller-Cory House Museum is located at 614 Mountain Avenue in Westfield, New Jersey.   Price of admission is $3 for adults, $1 for students and free for children under four, so make sure you have some sheckles ready.   You can call them with any questions at (908) 232-1776.

If you attend this event, make sure that you comment here as well and give your feedback so we can brag about how amazing it was to our other readers 🙂

Thanks for reading and, until next time, happy sipping!

Loose Tea Versus Bagged Tea – What’s The Difference?

As some of you might recall from Tea Love’s Facebook, I recently attended a spa event in my downtown Cranford, New Jersey area held by a new store, Artemisia.   They cite themselves as an “Artisan Gift Shop featuring American-made, Fair-trade eco-friendly and organic gifts for Beauty & Home.”   What I found most exciting?   They sell organic tea there!   Of course, I plan on going straight over there after getting my pay check.

While perusing their tea collection (all loose tea), a woman approached and asked what the difference was between loose tea and bagged tea.   The store’s owner, Wendy, explained to her some of the basic reasoning.   Needless to say, I stood nearby bubbling with excitement, barely able to contain my know-it-all-ology of all things tea-related.   I kept my mouth shut or I would have gone on an hour-long tangent about tea sprinkled with plenty of shameless plugs for my blog.

A Variety of Loose Teas

A Variety of Loose Teas

But there are a few reasons to choose a loose tea over a bagged tea.

Bagged teas, granted, are great for expediency and less mess.   After all, what is better than just taking a tea bag, throwing it in some boiling water and running out the door?   And on top of that, you do not need to clean out two tea pots; you only need to wash out your tea mug and you are done.   But the issue is that tea bags contain what is known as tea fannings, or dusts.   What do I mean by this?

Leave the computer for a second and go get a tea bag.   Open the tea bag (you might want to be careful here, so you do not get tea all over your keyboard).   Look inside that mish-mosh of, well, whatever is in there.   Most of the times, you cannot distinguish between the items in the mesh bag.   Brands like Mighty Leaf does have tea bags that are rich in contents and you can tell the difference, true, but most tea bags are just the fannings.   This does allow you a faster brew, but you lose the flavor or get too much flavor, depending on the tea.   Not only that, some teas that can be steeped more than once often cannot be unless it is a loose tea.

Loose tea leaves allow for a richer flavor and allows the tea leaves to actually open.   You are getting the best quality this way.   You can also easily blend your tea, which is an added perk if you care to experiment.   The down side?   The best way to drink loose tea is to throw it into a separate tea pot, allow the tea to brew and pour that into a tea mug.   You make twice the mess and you take up more time this way.   You can throw it into a tea ball but the tea leaves do not have a chance to open, thus robbing it of its flavor.   Honestly, brewing the former is worth it, I do promise you that.   But yes, it is a bit more of a hassle.   I suppose loose tea just keeps you brewing tea the way it was meant to be – slowly and surely, a product to be savored.

Both loose tea and bagged tea do have expiration dates.   After six months, tea tends to lose its flavor and after a year of improper storage (not storing the tea in an air-tight container), it will become stale.   Proper storage is key.

I am fully guilty of throwing in a tea bag into a mug and running around in the mornings but if you want a better cup of tea that you can sit down and enjoy, go after loose.   It will be well worth the effort.

A Special Tribute to Japan

On March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the lives of thousands, causing wide-spread devastation and pain throughout both the Japanese citizens and those from around the world.

The anniversary is arriving, with many still mourning, missing and in pain.   The psychological effects alone will be reverberating for ages to come.

Admittedly, this has a special significance for me.   On March 11th, I landed at the Narita Airport to with my travel partner, Sherri, visit my friend since 5th grade, Sara, who was studying at Soka University for a year.   Sara graciously planned a full ten-day tour all over Japan for her mother and myself, traveling to different tea rooms, shrines and attractions.   While I had been traveling before, I had never gone to a place with a culture as unique as Japan.

About ten minutes after we landed, the earthquake hit.   Without knowing the magnitude or impact of the earthquake (and, being a Jersey girl, I never even experienced anything like an earthquake before), it was rather exciting yet scary at the same time:

Sherri was greatly concerned for her daughter, while I held all the confidence in the world that she would be fine.   I knew that she was on a train traveling to see us but I knew that Sara was able to adapt to almost any situation and any emergency.   After living in a foreign country for a year, something like this shouldn’t phase her, should it?

However, thankfully, we found a group of people who gathered with us, keeping us calm and directing us in the ways of the Japanese culture.   Masana and I still talk to this day.   She was a complete angel and so patient translating and helping Sherri and myself reunite with Sara.   Peter and I unfortunately lost touch, but he was amazing, offering everything that he could to make sure that we were comfortable.

While I was nowhere near the epicenter, I did see the effects that the quake had on the people around me.   I can only imagine what went through Masana’s mind as she watched the news in the airport, how Peter felt as his home for a year was “attacked.”   I remember talking to Sara about how distressed she was about her home for a year and having to leave so abruptly.

The reason why I post this in my tea blog is because I still have fond memories of, while we were running around and trying to get out of the country, I always made my stops at tea vending machines.   Even while we were tired and impatiently waiting for the train, Sara and Sherri would see me wander off to the tea vending machine, getting some hot tea for now and cold tea for later.   I still have fond memories and probably a few bottle caps of some particular teas I was a fan of.

I ask everyone to please consider donating to these people.   They’re still struggling and any help that we can give to them, I can assure you, would be greatly appreciated.   Right now, I know that the Japan Society in New York is accepting donations and distributing it to where needed.

Thank you very much and thank you to all those wonderful people that helped me, a complete stranger, and my friends along our scary journey, even while their homes were in trouble.

A Photo That Sherri Took of Masana, Peter, Maureen, Sara and Myself at Narita Airport the Day After The Quake

A Photo That Sherri Took of Masana, Peter, Maureen, Sara and Myself at Narita Airport the Day After The Quake

Anyone have an artichoke handy? 🙂

If you have never had Artichoke tea, it’s about time you make some. It’s so refreshing and super easy to make. Literally. If you know how to turn on the stove, you can make this.

Here goes. 

Start w/ a fresh artichoke.

Boil for about 2 hrs. Notice that the artichoke floats on top of the water. Bring to a hard boil then lower heat to low and let simmer for the remainder of the time. Add about 1 gallon of water to 1 artichoke.

About 2 hrs. later or when the artichoke sinks you are done!  You can enjoy it hot or cold. 

The rest of the tea is stored in these Voss glass bottles. I refrigerate them and drink them cold over ice. It’s like iced artichoke tea! Sometimes I add a little sugar and vanilla extract. The smell reminds me of fresh sugarcane. 

These are huge bottles…

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What Exactly ARE Polyphenols?

When reading about tea, the word “polyphenols” has a tendency of creeping in.   The scientific term is never really explained in too much length, just that they are good for you.

But, that does not seem like enough.   What exactly are polyphenols and why are they good for you?

Polyphenols, according to WiseGeek.com, are “antioxidants in plants that many believe have a substantial amount of health benefits.”   They work to eliminate free radicals in the body, which are known to cause a series of health problems.   Finally, they might help to prevent premature aging (a sort of Fountain of Youth?).

Why are free radicals bad?   Well, put simply, they make you age.   They also damage tissue and might even cause some diseases.   Since these molecules are unstable, they look to bond with other molecules.   This destroys the other molecule’s health and creates a cycle of damage.   By drinking tea and eating food full of polyphenols and antioxidants, you might be slowing down your aging and helping your body in more ways than you can imagine!

However, the jury isn’t completely out on that thought yet.   According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Epidemological observations and laboratory studies have indicated that polyphenolic compounds present in tea may reduce the risk of a variety of illnesses, including cancer and coronary heart disease.”   Since most of the  findings have mostly been in lab animals, centers like the MD Anderson Cancer Center are collaborating with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to see how humans are affected by tea through clinical trials.

The study will see if tea polyphenols can be even more useful if they are combined with other items like certain foods and vitamin supplements.

So, while it is not yet scientifically proven that the polyphenols found in tea will have any direct benefit to the drinker, it does seem rather likely.   Even if there is no direct benefit, tea still tastes darn good!   The polyphenols are simply an added benefit.