Film Roll: Arrested Development, Lucille Drinks A ‘Hot Toddy’

I had to pause and write this one down. The perfect addition to my film and tea quote book 🙂
Season 2, Episode 5 “Sad Sack”
9:40 – 9:50
Lucille Bluth to her lover, Oscar Bluth (her husband’s brother):
“Here you go, hot tea…because you’re a hottie.”
Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Leave a comment

The Tea: It’s Not Just a Hippie Drink–Interview with Adela Hasas

adela-)By Alexandra Hoover

Recently, I had the pleasure to conduct a short interview with Master Herbalist and Nutritional Consultant, Adela Hasas, who has an inspiring and insightful way of describing the benefits of tea drinking.  I am also fan of her blog and appreciate her candid writing style.

While Adela values a holistic approach to wellness and appreciates tea’s role as a healing modality, she is very level-headed and sensible about the advantages of herbal medicine.  It may not be a cure-all, but there’s just something to say for a hot cuppa verdant leaves.  As Adela so aptly explained, it’s a lot better than a “‘one pill for one ill’ mentality…[it’s] fast and easy medicine right from your pantry!”

You know, you’ve tried it?  Right?



When did you become interested in tea and how does it work into your overall concerns with holistic health?


I grew up with herbal tea being ubiquitous, but green tea specifically didn’t figure much into my life until a few years ago. Holistic health is all about the mind-body-spirit connection, about how everything affects everything else, and it’s the total opposite of the ‘one pill for one ill’ mentality. So what I love about green tea is that it brings balance to so many of the body’s systems, including emotions, and it’s not so much a functional thirst-quencher as it is a multi-faceted healing modality. It’s this all-in-one power drink from such a delicate little leaf. I have such respect for it.


When you lived in Romania, did you drink tea there?


Well Romanians love their herbal teas (my mom has an overflowing cupboard of boxes & boxes of bagged & loose-leaf teas), but I didn’t really drink green or black tea until I came to the States. I don’t even know if we had it in Romania! As a kid I don’t even remember having iced tea, ever. I grew up during the Communist regime, so our imports were pretty limited.


What inspired you to attend a natural medicine school?  What have learned from the experience?


For years I’d studied nutrition and natural health on my own, so I figured it might be a good idea to have some credentials to back up my knowledge. And honestly, I don’t even remember exactly how I found the school! I’d been researching natural medicine colleges for a couple years, but in general they were too pricey or unaccredited. Somehow I eventually stumbled upon GCNM, and the curriculum (and price!) were right up my alley, so I enrolled that very same day.

As far as what I learned—that’s probably the most interesting part. I went in believing just about everything, but I came out a skeptic. I definitely still believe in herbs and nutrition and a holistic approach to healing, but I am against anything that’s been proven time & again to be nothing beyond a placebo effect. Let’s call it what it is, shall we?


Why should a non-tea drinker consider drinking tea?


It’s interesting; I think from the outside, non-tea drinkers may view green tea as a hippie drink, as something too ‘soft’ and bland. But there’s just something about it that completely changes the pace of your day. If you start your day with green tea rather than coffee, you’re off to a mellow, slow, indulgent start. Or if you’re having a hectic day at work, instead of reaching for a cuppa Joe at 3 p.m. to continue the mad rush & sustain your hectic heartbeat, why not slow down for a bit? Your body wants something comforting, and a nice mug of hot tea is just the thing.


What are the most important concepts, ideas, or skills you have learned as a master herbalist?


Resourcefulness! I am so in awe of the wide range of healing properties of the most basic little plants found all around us. If I have a stomach ache, I don’t need to rush to the store for some Tums; I can just pour some hot water over mint leaves from my mom’s backyard. If I’m anxious and can’t fall asleep, I steep some chamomile flowers that my good friend brought me from the Netherlands. Or if I have a sore throat, I just grab some garlic, vinegar, and honey, and simmer together a quick syrup to soothe the cough. Fast and easy medicine right from your pantry!

Make sure to visit Adela’s blog

*Photo courtesy of PG

Posted in Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Tea: Growing Herbal Tea from Seed Bombs: Part 1

We all know that the world is not perfect.  However, many of us are excited by the opportunity to change our communities for the better, but don’t always feel empowered.  I have a simple idea that could be attractive if you (1) like tea and (2) have a green thumb.

You may or may not have heard of them, but seed bombs are one way to transform a dull, unattractive, or non-functional slice of urban landscape.  I first learned about seed bombs several years ago when I stumbled upon the glories of guerrilla gardening (which is gardening on someone else’s land).  Seed bombs are essentially small balls of soil, seeds, and clay that can be used to expedite, or simplify, the process of guerrilla gardening.  These little balls are meant to beautify, or functionally alter, non-used – or neglected – land.

Consider a vacant field full of tall weeds and the occasional candy bar wrapper.  While walking or driving down the street, you probably try to avoid visually engaging such a waste of precious space.  It may look devoid of life, or just plain desolate.  There is, however, something you can do about it – and yes, it involves seed bombs.

The vacant lot is not your property, nor can you comfortably maneuver a shovel on it without attracting attention.  However, you can engage in an abbreviated form of gardening, just by tossing a clod of fertile dirt.

This process, while seemingly idealistic and mysterious, is actually fairly practical.  All you need to do is mix a combination of hibiscus seeds, red clay, and soil.  Roll the mixture into small balls, and toss them anywhere you think they will have a chance to grow.  While traditional seed bombs are often planted mainly for beautification, sometimes they can be grown and harvested for their edible attributes.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn how to create these herbal tea seed bombs!

*Originally Published on T Ching

Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Tea: Confused about the Amount of Caffeine in Your Cup of Tea?

By: Lesley Williams

You love tea. I love tea.  You have probably heard that tea has lots of antioxidants that are good for you. Perhaps you are concerned with the amount of caffeine found in most tea. First of all, what the heck is caffeine? It is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in coffee and cacao beans, cola nuts and tea leaves. It is soluble in water – which explains why it is most often found in drinks.

When ingested, caffeine increases heart and metabolic rates, and works as a diuretic, as well. Its stimulant properties are awesome if you are lagging in the middle of a hot afternoon (but they are not at all awesome if you have a heart condition).

As all true tea comes from the Asian evergreen plant, Camellia sinensis, every cup of tea contains caffeine. Camellia sinensis naturally contains caffeine, even before the leaves undergo any type of process.  The teas that are “decaffeinated” still contain a residual amount of this alkaloid after the decaffeination process. Herbal “tea,” on the other hand, does not necessarily contain caffeine, as it is not made from Camellia tea leaves. It consists of herbs, flowers and other ingredients.

Researchers have tried to pin several health issues like cancer, breast problems, and heart disease on caffeine, but there are no solid links of causation, at least not to date. Most of us can blame caffeine with some certainty for jitters and occasional sleepless nights. Experts recommend limiting caffeine intake to no more than 300mg to 500mg, per day.

Several factors affect the level of caffeine found in tea, including the region where the Camellia plant is grown; weather conditions; the leaf’s location on the plant; fermentation level; water temperature; and brewing time. Smaller leaves tend to release more caffeine than larger leaves. Manufacturing processes may also alter caffeine content. Hence, an Earl Grey flavored black tea from Tetley may contain more or less caffeine than one from Stash.

Altogether, this evidence indicates that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact amount of caffeine you are imbibing which each individual cup of tea. No wonder we get confused. It seems that most teas are now given a range of potential caffeine content, measured in milligrams.

Here are the ranges of caffeine in each kind of tea:

  • Black Tea (popular kinds are Darjeeling, Earl Grey – my favorite!) – 60-90mg per 8oz cup
  • Oolong Tea (generally from China and Taiwan) – 50-75mg per 8oz cup
  • Green Tea (popular kinds are Genmaicha, Jasmine, Japanese, etc.) – 35-70mg per 8oz cup
  • White Tea (generally fruit flavored) – 30-55mg per 8oz cup
  • Decaffeinated Tea (any kind) – 2-4mg per 8oz cup
  • Herbal Tea (popular kinds are Chamomile, Peppermint, Rooibos, etc.) – 0mg per 8oz cup

Other food and drinks that contain caffeine are:

  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate – 10mg per 1.55oz bar
  • Coke – 35 mg per 12oz can
  • Mountain Dew – 55mg per 12oz can
  • Monster Energy Drink – 80mg per 8oz can
  • Coffee, brewed – 130-200mg per 8oz
  • Espresso – 40-75mg per 1oz

So, next time you have a long day ahead of you and need a pick-me-up, you may feel confident about that 16oz cup of Earl Grey you just picked up from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, as long as you remember to unwind after that same long day with a nice steamy cup of herbal, caffeine-free peppermint tea.

*Most caffeine levels taken from Nutrition, 4th Edition by Paul Insel et al., and

**Images courtesy of: A girl with Tea and J Wynia

Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Do You Drink Tea?

Thursday, April 14, 2011     For as long as people have prepared and consumed tea, Camellia sinensis has been used to promote sociability and community.  In fact, the process of sharing tea with another human being is sometimes a way to make social differences feel less important.  Perhaps you have sat down to tea with a stranger, or someone you did not know very well, only to realize that the act of drinking tea brought the two of you closer together.  Tea is often consumed for social reasons, yet it is perceived to have other powerful qualities as well.  For instance, many people drink tea because it creates stability, order, and familiarity in a world full of chaos.

While it may be the perfect drink for many social occasions, it is also ideal for intensely personal life events.  In the book, Letters to Olga, readers learn about Václav Havel, a Czech human rights activist who was imprisoned for four years for his social and political writings.  While serving time in prison, he wrote letters to his wife, Olga, on many different topics, including tea.  Havel wrote of his attempt to bring order to his life through self-care, which incorporated this versatile drink.

Although he never drank tea much until he was sent to prison, Havel started drinking tea for its ability to cure, stimulate, and warm.  Most importantly, Havel considered the preparation and consumption of tea to be a material symbol of freedom.   To Havel, tea allowed his spirits to unbridle, so he could focus on inner freedom in such dour circumstances.  Although this is a rare example, people from all walks of life drink tea for similar reasons, and sometimes for different purposes altogether.  Why do you drink tea?  It may be for more than just its taste!

Originally published at

Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When You Can’t Have Caffeine

Recently, my friend’s mother gave up caffeinated tea to avoid repeated heart problems.  Although she is a fan of green tea (which has less caffeine than many hot drinks), she is trying to avoid caffeine altogether.  As an avid tea enthusiast who believes in the health benefits of Camellia sinensis, I’ve had to change my focus a little.  My friend asked me what kind of tea her mother could drink.  I suggested white tea, although herbal tisanes might be a better option.

What kind of herbal teas (which are made from the berries, seeds, flowers, and leaves of a variety of other plants) are helpful for someone like my friend’s mom, who loves a bit of fruit flavoring?  I suggest the teas listed below, which have been cited as safe for pregnant women.  I have recorded the reasons.  If something is good for pregnant women, it is generally good for all of us!

  1. Chamomile – This tea lacks caffeine and is especially good if you need help calming down or falling asleep.
  2. Lemon Balm – Not only does it relieve insomnia, but it can help alleviate anxiety and irritability, as well.
  3. Peppermint – Mint tea is generally known to help with stomach problems, various digestion problems, and nervousness.
  4. Rose Hips – May help boost the immune system.  Native Americans have used it for thousands of years.
  5. Kava – This does not contain any caffeine, unless it is adulterated.  It is made from the root of the South Pacific kava plant, if you haven’t already guessed.  It is a non-stimulant that is used for relaxation.

If you know a type of herbal tea you would like to add to this list (which is not exhaustive, by any means), feel free to contribute information to the comments section.  If you disagree with any of these facts, feel free to heckle me in a informative, tea-related fashion.

Originally published at

Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pregnant Tea Drinkers: The Controversy

I had the luck in one of my anthropology classes to learn about doulas – birth attendants who provide support during a woman’s labor.  After listening to an enlightening presentation on how doulas can help alleviate labor pain, I became interested in learning more about a profession that uses natural remedies to help women have easier – and more pleasant – births.  As a result, I chose to attend a three-day doula workshop.

  At the workshop, the other doula-trainees and I talked a lot about tea.  Out of the eleven women present, many loved, or at least appreciated, tea.  In addition to chatting about what teas we liked, we discussed some of the medical benefits of tea.  Now, only a few months after the workshop, I have decided to research the “dos and don’ts” of pregnant tea drinking.

I assumed that drinking tea would be healthy for many pregnant women; however, not all the sources I consulted seem to agree.   Are certain kinds of tea really that unhealthy for pregnant women, or are these websites being overly cautious?  Apparently, some herbal teas can be harmful to a mother and her child, including raspberry leaf tea (I don’t believe it!), hibiscus, lemongrass, chamomile (I really don’t believe that one), catnip, and rosemary tea.  Conversely, other sites suggest that non-herbal, caffeinated teas should be avoided, while red raspberry tea and chamomile are most likely safe.    The second site also suggested that peppermint, lemon balm, and ginger root were safe as well.

I’m not sure how to interpret these conflicting sources except to ask people what they drank during their own pregnancies and how the teas seemed to affect them.  Mothers, grandmothers, and health professionals: what are your opinions?

Originally published at

Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Transforming Fears into Tea

In an article in the Fall 2009 edition of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Marc Lesser suggests five ways to make more of your time by doing less.  To Lesser, doing less is a lot harder than most of us realize.  It sounds so simple, but it is often quite complicated to actualize in our lives.  To enjoy living at a slower pace and to get more meaning from what one does, Lesser suggests eliminating five “self-defeating habits.”  These include fear, assumptions, distractions, resistance, and busyness.  Such behaviors lead us to “do more and accomplish less.”  Relinquishing these self-defeating habits can help us relax and—to use a hackneyed phrase—“stop and smell the flowers.”

Although fear can be an ally inasmuch as it has the power to allow us to focus, stay safe, and remain living, it is usually detrimental in our everyday lives.   Fear creates unnecessary obstacles that most of us would prefer not to face.  Lesser explains that when we encourage our fears, “we are no longer receptive and playful.”

tea     Fortunately, he suggests a way we can deal with our fears that involves tea!  You may want to try it.  Get a piece of paper and a writing utensil.  Think of what your top five fears are.  Write each of your fears on a piece of paper.  These fears can be what you fear will happen soon, or what may happen much later.  Remember, these top fears should be the five most present in your mind.

Now here’s the catch—make a large pot of tea with enough liquid to fill five cups (one per fear).  After it brews, fill up the five cups with the tea you’ve just made.  How does it feel?  Marc Lesser writes, “When we acknowledge and open up playfully to our fears, they tend to lose their influence and power.”  There is a good chance you might feel that way after trying this tea experiment, or perhaps it is inspiring and relaxing just to read about.

Originally published at

Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“The Teahouse Fire” Will Have You Scrambling to Remember Your Temae

The Teahouse Fire provides an illuminating account of the lives of generations of Japan’s most important tea masters.  American author Ellis Avery studied Japanese tea ceremony in the United States and Japan before writing this novel replete with fascinating details of the Japanese tea ceremony, Chado, or The Way of Tea.  Although I read this 400-page book several months ago, its celebration of subtle, aesthetic details, beauty, and history resonated with me so much that I have created a list of Japanese vocabulary that I am reluctant to forget.

Through the eyes of a young French-American orphan, Aurelia Bernard, the audience meets the Shin family, descendants of a long line of tea masters.  The family adopts her as a part-time servant and part-time sister to Yukako, the daughter of Master Shin.  Through her friendship with her older sister, Aurelia—now called Urako—learns temae (a specific way of practicing tea), albeit indirectly.  As a female, Yukako is not allowed to practice tea in public or as a ritual, but is permitted to watch her father—“The Mountain”—teach temae to his students.  Fortunately, for Aurelia, Yukako teaches her from the hundreds of lessons she has been allowed to watch.

As an outsider and a female, Aurelia is doubly lucky to learn about (if not directly experience) all the facets of the tea ceremony and Japanese life, including temae; the rise and fall of the Japanese nobility and Shoguns; the floating world; geiko; seppuku; shamisen music; and all the details that are required for a successful tea ceremony.  Through the tea ceremonies, Aurelia learns the subtle nuances of movements that are never wasted and decorations that are always vivid, but never superfluous.  She learns that entire conversations can occur during the silent sipping of tea.  Do I recommend this novel?  Absolutely; I recommend it for its historical relevancy, feminist spirit, and offering of minimalist beauty.

Originally published at

Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Take a Walk on Tea’s Wild Side

wild flowers for tea
Only the boldest—and most reckless—among tea drinkers have tried it.  To drink it, one must possess a certain amount of confidence and savoir faire.  No, it’s not some new metropolitan or socialite brew.  It’s certifiably wild, rustic, and homespun—it’s the stuff from which Grimm’s Fairy Tales are made!  What is it?  Tisanes made from some exotic stuff that you probably never realized you could drink!There are several ways to go about collecting your tea’s ingredients.  You can find them in many places (although probably not at your grocery store, or any store, for that matter).
To create the wildest of teas, you may want to take a walk in the park, in the forest, or around a campground.  Sometimes you can even find your material peeking up between sidewalk cracks in the city.  Summer is the season of exploration and discovering new teas.  What kinds of flora should you gather for your cauldron?  Consult this list of suggestions (and get a guide book with photographs for distinguishing physical traits):
1.    Verveine, or Lemon Verbena:  It is in full bloom in summer.  The flowers are a yellow, milky color and are sometimes pink.  It can get very large and puts forth a lot of flowers and leaves.  I have used it in tea to harness a relaxing effect.  It can be very calming on the stomach, but don’t drink too much of it!  Use only a few petals or leaves.
2.    Little Wild Rose:  You may not think to eat flowers unless you’ve seen Monsoon Wedding.  Even if you’re not a fan of Bollywood or Indian movies, flowers (especially wild roses) are delicious in salads and teas.  It’s hard not to find them when you get a whiff of their intoxicating, though mild fragrance.  If you don’t want your tea to be too acidic, boil for less than ten minutes.  Drink it with Verveine, if you are interested in seeing
how the two mesh.
3.   Yarrow:  Yarrow is easiest to find if you live in the Southwestern United States.  It is a diaphoretic that helps with circulation (it has several other medicinal benefits too).  To enjoy it, add two leaves to boiling water.  Sweeten it with honey, if you like.  Like Verveine, you should be careful to not use too much or drink it too frequently unless you live next door to a homeopathic doctor.
4.   Calendula, or Marigolds: To make it, steep a few dried flowers in very hot water for less than six minutes.  You can mix it with other flowers and herbs, or just drink it alone.  It will help detoxify your body and improve your immune system.
Originally published at
Posted in Communi-TEA, Communi-TEA Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment