Understanding the magical history of matcha might elevate your tea-drinking experience
Matcha revolutionized the way we drink tea. Before 12th century Zen monks popularized this powdered form of Camellia sinensis, leaves were dried and compressed into bricks before drinking. Matcha’s first advocate, the Zen monk Eisai, taught his pupils how to properly cultivate and regularly consume powdered tea for optimal spiritual and physical health. Back then, the growing process was revered as much as the ceremony of drinking tea.
An Enchanting Upbringing
Tea bushes were treated with great respect and care from seed to harvest. In the winter, they were allowed a full season of rest in order to accumulate nutrients below ground. The tea bushes would awaken from their slumber in the spring, fortified by their hibernation and ready to transfer energy into newly forming buds. This is why the first spring harvest is always the sweetest and most nutritious - just as we feel best after a period of rest, Camellia sinensis creates the best product when it’s allowed the entire winter to restore.
Since sunlight causes bitterness, wooden structures topped with reed screens were built around the bushes to block ~75% of the sunlight. 10 days later, a layer of straw was placed over the reeds, blocking 90% of sunlight. This added effort renders an incredibly soft, bright green leaf to later be hand-picked by skilled harvesters.
After harvest, the leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation before being put into columnar wind turbines outfitted with nets to dry and catch all the leaves. Next the leaves are sent to ovens with three layers of conveyor belts where they go through multiple rounds of drying at various temperatures. At this point, the leaves are called raw tencha. It’s not until the leaves are cut, separated from twigs and veins, and stone-milled into a powdered form that they finally become matcha.
Before the 20th Century, matcha was consumed as ‘thick tea’ (koicha) in which a large amount of matcha was mixed with only enough hot water to make it fluid. Koicha was considered the purest form of matcha because in order for it to be drinkable, only the sweetest, most tender leaves could be used. Thin tea (usucha) was reserved for more laid-back occasions. This is what we drink today.
Reclaim Ritual - Make Your Tea Time Exceptional
Many people might not realize that they are as attached to the process of making a morning pot of coffee as they are to the caffeine. Humans crave rhythm and routine- it’s in our DNA! Creating a ritual around our tea making and drinking process can be highly beneficial to your physical and mental health. Maybe squeezing in a few words of gratitude, prayers, or simple stretches while your water boils and savoring the first few sips slowly and silently will not only calm your adrenals but also get your mind in the cool, calm, and collected setting it craves in our hectic world.
We've turned modern matcha magical with our carefully formulated blend.
To elevate the modern matcha drinkers experience, we add adrenal nourishing herbs like Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) and Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) to our Matcha Magic. These adaptogens fortify and calm our stress response. Heart strengtheners like Rose (Rosa rugosa), rich in Vitamin C, and Ginger (Zingiber officinale), improve circulation and support cardiovascular function. A touch of Cardamom (Eletarria cardamomum) supports digestive function, cleanses the breath, and imparts a lovely, aromatic finish. We use organic matcha, finely ground and with a bittersweet taste the pairs perfectly with the other herbs and a spot of cream.
The Perfect Cup of Magic Matcha
CC Flickr pics: Dinesh Valke, Christine Lynch, Markus riedi, Betty Dish, Brian Wotherspoon,
You've Got Male
We’ve all got men in our life that could use some herbal love.
By and large, herbalism is a women’s world. There are many reasons for this.
Women naturally might be more attracted to medicine made from beautiful plants, and historically, creating herbal remedies fell under the realm of the homemaker. Herbs are also particularly useful in pregnancy, childbirth, and supporting hormonal health. However, men stand to benefit equally from plant medicine. These days, it’s hard to find a supplement for men that does more than just enhance libido. Men have needs too, and we wanted to create a tea that saw to them.
The herbs in You’ve Got Male are listed below. Our formula is carefully balanced to provide support without tipping any one system out of balance- a common issue in simple formulas showcasing only one herb.
More on the Herbs in You've Got Male
Hawthorne, leaf, flower, and berry, Crataegus spp, Rosaceae
Sweet, sour, warm, astringent, heart-opening + strengthening, cardiotonic
In our culture (and in general), its not as common for men to express their emotions as freely as women. Traditional wisdom acknowledges that when we repress our emotions, it manifests physically. High blood pressure, weakened or exhausted heart muscle, and other cardiovascular issues may all be a result of this repression. Hawthorne is known to strengthen the heart, physically and emotionally, with clinical studies to back it up.
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus, Poaceae
Cooling, sour, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, diaphoretic, digestive
Lemongrass is the ultimate cooling remedy. Men tend to get a bit more overheated than women, so this mild yet effective herb can do the trick to calm and relax. It's traditionally used to cool fevers and release heat. As a diuretic and diffusive, it helps with the elimination of waste, reducing heat and inflammation once again. Apart from its purely physical effects, Lemongrass is also capable of promoting feelings of hope, confidence while helping to decompress and relax.
Nettle leaf, Urtica dioica, Urticaceae
Dry, cool, nutritive, alterative, alkalinizing diuretic, urinary tract tonic
Nettle is an amazingly nutritious tonic herb meant to be taken regularly. It’s high mineral content builds bone, muscles, and hair. It’s particularly high in iron for healthy blood, and magnesium, a critical mineral deficient in the SAD diet but that enhances exercise performance and nervous system health.
Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae
sour, slightly sweet, bitter, cool, soothing, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), reduces prostate
Another cooling herb with a propensity to enhance heart health (lowering blood pressure and lipid levels), Roselle (or Hibiscus) is tangy, delicious, uplifting energizing without containing caffeine! It’s also been used to help treat prostate cancer due to its high antioxidant content. Studies show that Roselle inhibits the expression of prostate cancer cells and their signaling pathways.
Horny Goat Weed, Epimedium grandiflorum, Berberidaceae
Dry, acrid, warm, possible adaptogen, strengthens HPA axis, hypotensive, aphrodisiac, anxiolytic, circulatory stimulant
Epimedium was made famous when a herder noticed his goats exhibited robust sexual activity after nibbling on Fairy Wings (common name of this beautiful ornamental).
Epimedium is used in TCM to support normal peripheral circulation and to tonify kidney yang energy, or the driving force of libido. In the West, icariin, an active constituent, has received great attention because of its ability to inhibit Phosphodiesterase type 5*, the same mechanism of pharmaceutical male enhancement drugs (although plant medicine always represents a safer, more balanced remedy due to the vast number of compounds working along with the active constituent). Historically, because of it's potency and potential for exhausting the kidney yang in the long-run, Epimedium is always used in balanced formulas.
*Do not take Horny Goat Weed if also taking a Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitor
Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera
Dry, warm, adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, astringent, immune amphoteric, mild sedative
We couldn’t make an herbal tea without adding the Sweat of the Stallion. This root is historically used to enhance the strength, endurance, and virility of men - and it works! Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen, providing strength and energy while also supporting the adrenals for calm and focus.
Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Fabaceae
Sweet, warm, bitter, moistening , adaptogen, adrenal support, anti-inflammatory (specific to irritated GI tract), demulcent, expectorant, nutritive, antispasmodic, aperient (mild laxative), hepatoprotective
We add this sweet root to harmonize the formula while adding an adaptogenic touch. Like Ashwaghanda, Licorice is an adaptogen that enhances the body’s ability to handle stress. Due to its soothing, mucilaginous nature, it's been used to treat ulcers and inflammation in the digestive tract. Licorice is known to enhance the activity of other herbs when used in formula
Ginger, Zingiber officinale, Zingiberaceae
Warming, dry, peripheral circulatory aid, cardiotonic, hypolipidemic, analgesic, digestive, antiatherosclerotic
Herbs that enhance circulation are critical for healthy reproductive function, particularly if you have a long commute to work or sedentary job. Similarly, Ginger is renowned in its ability to strengthen the cardiovascular system but stimulating circulation. Ginger is a supreme digestive, soothing to the stomach, dispelling gas and enhancing digestion. Anyone with a sluggish digestion with gas and burping will benefit from daily Ginger. Ginger has also been shown to be as effective as aspirin for remedying headaches.
Creative Commons, Flickr: Carol Coward, Hair Prasad Nadig, Sidney Pacheco, Tatters, Forest and Kim Star, Christine Lynch, Markusriedi, Betty Dish
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
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