Most Liberal Product In America – Kombucha

Admittedly, kombucha is still a bit of a mystery to me, the main reason being that I do not drink alcohol.   Once I read that it was a fermented beverage, I just thought, “Nope.”   However, watching some of my coworkers swear by it and seeing all sorts of recipes for SCOBY (the weird culture of bacteria and yeast that looks a bit like an oceanic creature), I decided to at least do a bit of research on it and know what on Earth I am talking about.

Kombucha Tea: Do the Negatives Outweigh the Positives ...

The mystery of kombucha….

For those of you who have lived blissfully unawares, kombucha, dubbed the most liberal product in America as of 2009, is an ancient Chinese tea-based drink (usually green or black tea) that is brewed with a yeast disc, yielding low levels of alcohol.   Now, it is toted as being a huge part of PepsiCo’s portfolio, despite the fact that it had an alcohol regulation scandal only a few years ago.   Health nuts love it, because it states that it contains vitamins, amino acids, and other buzz words healthy people (and the government) associate with health benefits.   This also implies a non-alcoholic base, so kids and adults can enjoy the drink.   It almost developed a cult following, with people expounding upon its properties to do everything from fix what ails ya to even curing AIDS and cancer (helpful note, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center states that kombucha has not been shown to treat cancer nor AIDS in humans).

Kombucha is prepared mostly by placing the SCOBY in sweetened tea and left to ferment at room temperature for 1-3 weeks, then bottled for 1-2 weeks to contain the CO2 that is given off and increase the natural carbonation of the drink.   From there, the drink is stored in the fridge, at which point it is ready to be sold.   The scandal happened because people did not think of the second fermentation cycle that the drink goes through:

“However, the production and distribution of kombucha halted abruptly for two months in 2010 following a Whole Foods inspection  by Maine Department of Agriculture Consumer Protection Inspector Randy Trahan. During a routine bottle audit at the Whole Foods in Portland, Trahan noticed leaking kombucha bottles. Trahan explained, “Some of the Kombucha bottles on the shelf were leaking. Being a public health official, I know that alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation process. I could immediately see that there might be a public safety issue…Kids could get hold of this and get a buzz.””

After Trahan submitted the bottles for testing, they found alcohol levels ranging from a bit over 0.5% to even going as high as over 2.5%, well above the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s regulations.   The drink was pulled from shelves as a result for a bit while the industry gathered itself again to try a second time in the kombucha boom.

The government stepped in and stated that it would regulate any kombucha products that contain 0.5% or more ABV, even after the product was bottled and continued to ferment.   Trade association Kombucha Brewers International was also founded as a way to educate both consumers and retailers about kombucha, as well as promote industry ethics and labeling standards, working with the government to do so.

With new regulations in place, producers went two ways – some decided to comply with the ABV standards through manufacturing changes and de-alcoholizers, while others used their original formulas and labeled their brands as beers instead.   Purists believe the de-alcoholized products stripped away the health benefits of the beverage that made it so popular in the first place.   However, sales continue to climb, estimated to be about $1.8 billion by 2020.

So, while I might try some of the de-alcoholized kombucha, there’s something to be said about its fascinating history, and the current hype surrounding the beverage!

Sit back, enjoy a cuppa, and let me know your thoughts.

Shedding Pounds With Green Tea?

People who know me know that I like my gym.   I might not get to go as often as I would like to, but when I do, I work out and I work out hard (and fun, usually doing something stupid like trying new machines and almost killing myself in the process).   I have been on a mission to lose weight for quite some time.   While working out this past week, a thought struck me.   Everyone always talks about losing weight with green tea.   While we all know how many snake oil products are out there, promoting their ability to help you shed the pounds in little to no time at all, I was curious if this one had any, well, weight to it.

So, curious, I turned to Facebook to ask for your opinion.   General consensus is that yes, it does help.

But Does It Really Help?

But Does It Really Help?

But, while it would be nice to take a Facebook poll and find out the secrets of the world, real life dictates you need to do your research to find out the truth, not just go by social media.

So, does it actually help?

I tried punching “green tea lose weight” into Google and came up with 22,300,000 results!   Articles ranged from WikiHow explaining how to drink tea (not necessarily green tea) to get a tiny waist, to Science Daily posting studies regarding weight loss and green tea.   Even popular website Calorie Count (of which I am a huge fan, especially for their yummy, healthy, low-fat recipes) chronicle how green tea has helped with weight loss.

There are lots of weight loss products that explain how they use the power of green tea to boost your metabolism and thus help you lose weight.   Again, a quick Google search pulled up 1,980 products in my area alone.   I think that I can go out on a limb and say that’s a lot!

Now, what do the heavier, scholarly articles say?

Well, we can’t make this easy, can we?

According to an article in Obesity: A Research Journal, a scientific study, funded by Novartis Consumer Health in Nyon, Switzerland, decided to look at 76 men and women who had BMIs ranging from 25 to 35 kg/m2, considered to be clinically obese.   The group was split where some received placebos and some received green tea pills.   From there, each division was then given a dose of low caffeine and high caffeine.   Those that had a lot of caffeine in the study seemed to have lost more weight!   However, if you do not drink a lot of caffeine, then green tea seems to help you with weight management, partially due to fat oxidation (breaking down fatty acids, which increases energy) and thermogenesis (generation of heat).

In the end, I would still always recommend exercise and eating well.   However, incorporating some tea will not hurt you in your weight loss journey and may even help out with your weight management, depending on your caffeine intake.

Drink tea, be happy, and maybe even have a happier waistline.

Yet Another Green Tea Benefit – An Anti-Smoking Agent

 

 

I freely admit, I abhor cigarettes.   There’s no medical benefit to them, it harms those around you, it frankly doesn’t smell that great and close to 90% of lung cancer in men and 80% in women are caused by these white sticks that rob you of your life.   I tell people it’s their choice whether or not they choose to smoke but quite frankly, I also tell them that I feel they’re making a stupid choice.   However, past that, if you really want to smoke, who am I to stop you?

A Break-Down Of What You're Smoking

A Break-Down Of What You’re Smoking

With that being said, I know people who do smoke that, sadly, due to the cigarette’s addictive nature, feel like they simply can’t.   Sure, we all know about e-cigarettes, the patch, etc.   However, did you know that green tea is now shown to help kick the habit of smoking?

An article recently published in Science China Life Sciences called ‘A Revolutionary Approach for the Cessation of Smoking’, claims that you can make custom-designed cigarettes laced with green tea components in order to help get rid of those smoking cravings.   In clinical trials, after 2 months of smoking this unique cigarette, people reduced their smoking intake by 52%!   The famed nicotine patches and gum, it has been reported by the New York Times, might not help at all and in fact, may even be more harmful than good.

Phinse Philip, a lecturer in the Community Oncology Division of the Malabar Cancer Centre, said, “A majority of users smoke as it purportedly gives them some form of relaxation. The oral intake of the amino acid L-Theanine, uniquely found in green tea, is known to have anti-stress effects and acts as a relaxing agent. The study conducted in China shows that green tea may be an alternative to quit this addictive habit.”

Thomas Varughese, head of surgical oncology and reconstructive surgery at Kochi’s Lakeshore Hospital and Research Centre, even said drinking green tea after quitting smoking completely could contribute to reversing the possibility of lung cancer.   Imagine the revolutionary idea that green tea can not only help people kick a potentially deadly habit, but can also reverse the negative effects!

The health benefits of green tea, at this point, is rather common knowledge.   We are plagued by the media with thoughts of how green tea can cure cancer, make you lose weight, destroy free radicals, etc.   Well, here is another one to add onto this ever-growing list!

So, next time you want to light up, maybe drink up instead.

 

 

Green Tea Bobas { Homemade }

I love Le Zoe Musings’ posts and photos but this one, I think I adore!

Boba tea (popularly known as bubble tea is delightfully tasty, gives you a bit of a pleasant surprise when you slurp up a tapioca ball (found at your local Asian food market) and is chock full of health benefits if you make it using matcha like Le Zoe Musings recommends.

Matcha green tea uses the entire tea leaf.   It is ground into a fine powder and is used for Japanese tea ceremonies.   It is also believed to have that many more health benefits since you do use the whole leaf.

Read more about Le Zoe Musings’ great blog here:

Green Tea Bobas { Homemade }

An Introduction to Glamorous, Gracious, Grandiose Green Tea

I bet that, if I were to go up to a stranger on the street and ask them to name different types of tea, I would hear “green tea” first and foremost.   After all, China alone has hundreds of different types of green tea.   With so many different varieties, it would be hard to not gain so much attention.   Stores carry green tea bottles by the gallon for mass consumption.

According to How Products Are Made, “Green tea leaves are picked and immediately sent to be dried or steamed to prevent fermentation, whereas black tea and other types are left to ferment after they are picked. ”   They are grown primarily in the southern, warmer regions of Japan, half of it being in the Shizuoka Prefecture. Uji, near Kyoto.   Tea is also grown in the Shizuoka Prefecture and the surrounding regions. A total of about 100,000 tons of green tea is produced per year from 60,000 hectares of tea fields. Only green tea is produced in Japan.

A Serene Set-Up Of Green Tea

A Set-Up As Simple As A Tea Pot And A Cup of Green Tea Can Make the Outside, Chaotic World Suddenly Disappear

The soil for green tea is acidic, since tea plants will not grow in anything less.   Harvesting is done by hand or machine in April, May, June, July and September.   Harvesting by machine is more cost-efficient and faster than by hand.   They are then dried to prevent any fermentation that might occur and change the taste.   Different amounts of drying will make different types of tea; Sencha tea is steamed for 30-90 seconds and fukamushi is steamed for 90-150 seconds.

Tea is then rolled into different shapes.   This not only gives the tea an appealing and distinctive shape; it also controls the release of the tea when steeped.   Sometimes, it is dried one last time before being packaged in bags or loose and shipped off to our favorite tea shops. While watching television, listening to the radio, reading magazines or browsing around online, one can find unlimited proclamations regarding green tea.   While Googling “Green Tea” for this article, I was plagued by ads upon ads upon ads advertising green tea diets, green tea supplements and green tea health products.   It is starting to become the snake oil of modern society. Green tea does contain antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals, lower blood pressure, triglyceride  and cholesterol.   However, it is important to note that the FDA has not approved the claim that green tea helps reduce heart disease.   Studies also suggest that green tea helps prevent bladder cancer and pancreatic  cancer, as well as aid in breast cancer and ovarian cancer treatment in early stages.   It helps reduce inflammation, control blood sugar, reduce liver disease and even promote weight loss!   While one should always consult with a doctor about any type of nutrition regiment, even one like drinking a cup of green tea per day, it seems to arguably be more beneficial than not for the average person.  Green tea contains about 60% of the caffeine of a cup of coffee, prepared with ground coffee in a drip cup.   However, the amount of caffeine will differ depending on how you brew the tea.   Generally, green tea should be brewed in water that is about 140-185 degrees for 1-3 minutes.   Brewing too long will produce a bitter tea, so be careful!   It will also increase caffeine content, so those sensitive to caffeine should beware.   Green tea would not be a good tea, unless you invest in a decaf or caffeine-free version.  I would not personally recommend green tea for novice drinkers.   It is more of an intermediate drink; you’ve had tea before, you enjoy it but you want to branch out.   At first, it can be very bitter for a new drinker, so sugar might be needed.   However, with time, green tea can be enjoyed without sweeteners and you can enjoy the full benefits, both in taste and in health.Photo Credit:

GreenTeaSecrets.org.   2010.   GreenTeaSecrets.org: Green-tea.jpeg, 8 Nov 2011.   JPEG file. 

Source Credit:

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Green Tea Brewing Tips.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.

How Products are Made.   “How green tea is made – making, used, processing, parts, steps, product, industry, machine, Raw Materials, The Manufacturing Process.”   How Products are Made, 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.

University of Maryland Medical Center.   “Green Tea.”   University of Maryland Medical Center.   University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.

Wood, Heather Topham.   “Caffeine Content in Green Tea Vs. Coffee.”   LIVESTRONG.com.   LIVESTRONG.com, 26 Apr 2011.   Web.   9 Nov 2011.