Digital Table: Tea as “medicine”

Digital Table is back and with a new twist. Let’s both put the kettle on and sit together to talk and get to know each other. While reflecting over our cup of tea we will dive into discussions at our Digital Table together. From discussions on Global Tea Hut subscriptions to what’s going on in the world, from blog post reflections to debating where tea begins and spirituality ends, this series is all about conversation and connection.  So get cozy, let’s curl up and sip at our digital table together.

Tea Medicine is a fact, history tells us that both tea and steeped herbs were medicinal used. Yet we forgot, let's discuss Tea as Medicine

As I turn on the kettle for our talk, I feel like we need to reflect on the holistic healing of tea. Sipping my tea the last week has been very healing, not only for my mind but my body. As we approached the end of October I found my body was sick from a sinus cold (or sinus-chest-cold of doom as I liked to refer to it). Modern medicine such as “big brand” cold daytime or nighttime has always left me feeling groggy and unable to do regular everyday tasks. But worst off my gut health goes down with it, possibly leading me further into this care for my colitis. This time around I opted for a holistic healing with thousands of years of history to back it up: tea and herbs.

Over 5,000 years of history of tea as medicine

Have you heard of Lu Yu? This writer (no, Tea Scholar) changed how I view tea forever. In his book Cha-Ching – which is The Classic of Tea – he documented all things related to tea in the Tang Dynasty. Literally, all the small things we take for granted (like water) are in this book. But the bigger part is the note about additives to this boiled brew, things such as orange peel, ginger, and flowers. In 2010 realizing what Lu Yu adding these ingredients meant, he had just made tea blends. And that made a lightbulb go off –  so-called “blends” are NOT new. Lu Yu documented the first tea blend, and expressed his dislike of it, but also acknowledged the “long-rooted practice.”

This Tea Sage even makes a note (ahem, credit) of Sheng Nong, the first Emperor of China and Herbal medicinal god. This God-Emperor-Person experimented with steeping different leaves and made note of their effects. His biggest discovery was the tea plant, also known as Camellia Sinensis, which he found cured him of a poison he got from some leaf he had steeped. True tea is made from this plant and all others are called Tisanes or Herbal Infusions.

Skeptics of Tea Medicine

In the tea professional community, it is seen as a touchy subject to talk about holistic healing as it relates to tea. The reactions when the subject is brought up quickly go to skeptical: “ Who did the study?”, “What were the steeping methods?”, “How hot was the water?”, “They must have used too much tea or too hot of water.” The reactions go on (and on… and on); it shocks me that some even try to not answer customer questions relating to health. Have you experienced that when shopping for tea, too? I hope not dear friend.

But if you have please keep in mind that not everyone though is like that. I have one friend who is seen as the go-to for tea health information. Michelle Peirce Hamilton is a lovely woman who took her own health into her hands and sought out a Holistic Medicine certification. If you talk to her, she lights up the room with her passion not only for tea but health.

Tea is a Holistic Medicine

Michelle had a talk at a Tea Guild of Canada meeting a few years ago on health. Her well-sourced research silenced many skeptics with proven fact that tea IS a holistic treatment. From findings from The 5th International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Health, she presented these facts for us to take to heart. Some of the findings are:

 

  • Drinking any amount of tea (green, black or oolong) can help reduce the chance of a stroke

  • 5 cups of green tea a day can contribute to preventing some types of cancer

  • Tea is proven to help with mood and problem-solving.

 

Even with science to back it up, there is no better proof than how it makes us feel as we drink it. Take another sip of your tea. Do you feel the calmness wash over you? That my friend is the L-theanine of the tea. It is the anti-stress component which relaxes your body when the tea is sipped telling your body all is okay (even if it’s not). And you may also feel more alert or able to concentrate better on our conversation and our tea.

 As it affects the body and makes us feel better, is there really the need for debating if tea is holistic? I don’t think there is, after all, one of the definitions of medicine is healing substances or drugs collectively.”  With that wording then tea is truly medicine for the mind, body, and soul. But dear friend, what do you think?