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The Physical & Mental Benefits of Tea Drinking

As a nutritionist I love the idea that we can eat and drink our way to good health. Consuming things that are beneficial, in a way that is enjoyable is really a nutritionist’s goal for their clients. Compliance relies so heavily on sustainability when it comes to treatment.

A good place to start is always adding good things in. This paves the way for a term coined “crowding out”… whereby you add so much goodness in – veggies, fruit, herbs, spices, teas etc. – that you leave little room for the “not so good”. You also inadvertently create healthy habits as well as healthy taste buds. When your plate is so full of real natural foods, people’s cravings dramatically change. Further, new health rituals are created. One such ritual I love to introduce to my clients is tea drinking.

It sounds so simple, boil water, infuse it with a tea bag, drink. But so often people forget about tea-drinking because they are so busy relying on coffee, downing soft drinks, or not drinking at all. When I introduce herbal teas to my clients, they “crowd out” these less beneficial things, whilst simultaneously boosting hydration. Did you know that thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger? I have found that drinking tea between meals can be extremely helpful for appetite regulation, especially for those perpetual “grazers”.

When it comes to tea, I have been a long-time consumer of Pukka. Not only do they come up with incredible, quality organic herbal blends rooted in Ayurvedic therapeutic wisdom, they are also a socially responsible company with a heavy emphasis on sustainability and fair practices. They go the extra mile to help address the issues of global inequality and poverty through their commitment to organic farming, ethical sourcing of ingredients, use of recyclable materials and over 1% of annual sales being dedicated to global environmental causes.

Pukka teas are certified Fair for Life, one of the highest independent fair trade standards in the world and many of its teas use FairWild herbs. As such, introducing tea into my client’s treatment plans also offers them a way of obtaining a vast array of nutrients from plants such as turmeric, ginger, lavender, fennel, peppermint, tulsi etc., beautiful herbs that they either would never be able to consume otherwise, or simply don’t think to. These unique ingredients each come with their own benefits – for example, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, contains potent antioxidants and is good for brain function; ginger is well renowned for its digestive stimulating properties, reducing nausea as well as supporting the immune system; lavender is a well-known relaxant and can calm the nervous system and improve sleep; fennel encourages a healthy inflammatory response whilst also being anti-bacteria against yeast, bacteria and fungi; peppermint is wonderful for relieving bloating, headaches and freshening the breath; and tulsi is beneficial for the respiratory system and helps with stress relief. I could go on and on!

On top of the crowding out effects of increasing tea consumption, the improved water intake, and the increased nutrition, tea-drinking can actually be mentally therapeutic. Tea ceremonies have a long history in Asia, and whilst can be very strict and involve many steps, at their core, they are about devoting all of one’s attention to the act of preparing, pouring and sipping tea. Similar to meditation, it is a honing in of the senses by focusing on one single thing. This can be simplified and adjusted to suit the individual. I find it great for those with busy minds, or those who are not quite open to or interested in a more traditional meditative practice. The next time you make a cup, really focus on setting up your mug, opening your tea bag, smelling the herbs, boiling the water, and pouring it from the kettle into your tea cup. Again, smell the aroma, allow it to cool, sip slowly and enjoy the warmth in your palms and the different flavour notes.

Combining these physical and mental health benefits of tea-drinking with the exceptional quality standards, focus on therapeutic ingredients, unique, delicious flavour combinations and commitment to ethical practices, a cup of Pukka really is a “feel good” experience! I share this information with to hopefully introduce more “crowding-out”, increase your consumption of quality tea, and inform you of the wonderful work Pukka does so you too can make conscious choices. There has definitely been a shift of high quality, organic, sustainable brands from niche to the mainstream. When more people jump on-board by supporting fair companies with these brand principles, the positive effects on the planet cannot be overlooked.

If you are interested in learning more about Pukka, have a look at their website here. I love their Pukkapedia!

DIY: KOMBUCHA

Hi guys!

I thought I would share with you how I make my Kombucha at home. I’m always snap-chatting it away as I brew a new batch (showing you my many SCOBY’s), and have received a few questions regarding my process. What’s interesting about my DIY Buch is that I actually grew my SCOBY myself 🙂 But let’s backtrack for a min, because I am sure some of you are looking at me through the screen like “SCOBY?” “KOMBUCHA?!”…. so first things first….

Kombucha is made from sweetened fermented tea and has a well-known and impressive list of health benefits. Most of these are centered around it’s probiotic effect on gut health. Probiotics (meaning “for life”) promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut, critical for good digestion, nutrient absorption, disease prevention and even mood stability. You can take actual probiotic capsules daily, however it is also of benefit to consume probiotic-rich foods. These are generally fermented e.g. kombucha, kefir, saurkraut, kim chi, miso etc.

Ok, so now let’s clear up some misconceptions about Kombucha that might have people red-flagging it:

THE SUGAR:

If you have followed me for a while now, you know that I’m virtually sugar-free, particularly I avoid refined sugar. However the sugar that kombucha calls for is actually consumed by the SCOBY during fermentation. Yes… it needs food too! Unfortunately, there is no sugar-free way around this, so save your stevia/xylitol for baking and just accept that you are not actually consuming 1 cup of pure sugar! I have found that raw sugar tastes the best, but white, brown, cane and apparently coconut sugar also work. The taste will vary.

THE CAFFEINE:

You do need to use a tea that contains some caffeine, hence why herbal teas won’t work. But don’t worry, as with the sugar, the caffeine is, for the most part, transformed during the fermentation process.

THE SCOBY: (look at the tea-toweled covered jar in my pic- See that thing floating toward the middle? There it is!)

I get it, a “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast” sounds and looks less than desirable, but you need to understand that this is where all the goodness comes from. I’m not asking you to slice it all up and toss it in a salad, which some people do by the way, but just know that it serves a purpose and don’t let it scare you off the good stuff. The SCOBY also multiplies pretty much every time you brew a new batch! So you will have a clean new one each week or so, and you can either let it layer upon layer, or throw out a few of the old ones as you go.

THE ALCOHOL:

Kombucha does contain a little alcohol, due to the fermentation process, it is uslaly less than 1%.

THE FIZZ:

During fermentation, kombucha becomes naturally carbonated, giving it a little fizz. You can take this a step further with a second ferment, which I explain below. Note, it is unlikely going to taste as fizzy as the store-bought varieties, as some of them actually do carbonate their bottles of ‘buch.

THE FLOATIES:

It’s OK to consume the “floaties” in your brew!! These are little bits of the SCOBY floating around, offering you the healthful benefits that comes with Kombucha. I admit, big ones are a bit of a shock, but for the most part, you don’t even notice the little guys 🙂

 

I first fell in love with Kombucha in the USA, where they had a fabulous, low-sugar brand called GT’ Kombucha. It proved really hard for me to find a brand I liked back home in Australia, which motivated me to start researching how to DIY it.

I first tried using the SCOBY from a friend, which was a baby one from the original SCOBY she received from another friend. You see, SCOBY’s are either passed down between kombucha lovers, or sold online (BUT! I have a better way, see below). Anyway, that first batch wasn’t my cup of tea 😉 so I almost gave up. When I finally found a brand in Sydney that I liked (Tonicka, for all you Sydney-siders wondering), I decided to try to grow my own from it. Let me explain how!

What you’ll need:

Step 1 – Create the SCOBY

Tools & Ingredients:

  • 1 cup store-bought ORIGINAL Kombucha (best if organic, best if you have tried it and liked the taste, and will not work if flavoured);
  • 1 medium jar
  • 1 tea towel
  • 1 elastic band

Method:

Simply consume the kombucha, leaving just 1 cup liquid. Place that cup of liquid into a jar, cover it with a tea towel and secure with elastic band, and leave in a shaded part of your kitchen for approximately one month.

By the one month mark, the “floaties” all band together, feed off the kombucha and form a unified thin “film” at the top of the jar. This is your SCOBY!

Step 2 – Brew

Tools & Ingredients:

  • Your SCOBY
  • Kettle
  • 1 LARGE bowl
  • 1 LARGE jar (3-4L)
  • Plastic (not metal) tongs, the SCOBY doesn’t like metal
  • Tea towel
  • Elastic band
  • 8 organic tea bags – I prefer Green Tea
  • 1 cup organic sugar – I prefer raw sugar
  • 1 cup store-bought ORIGINAL Kombucha 

Method:

Boil the kettle with around 3-3.5L of water, depending on how much your kettle holds. I do two batches of 1.7L, making the total 3.4L.

Place the sugar and tea bags in your large bowl.

Pour boiling water over the tea and sugar and allow the bowl to stand overnight or for at least several hours, until cooled to room temperature.

Remove tea bags.

Pour sweetened tea into your large jar.

Use tongs to place your newly formed SCOBY into the jar, and 1 cup of store-bought kombucha.

Cover with a tea towel, secure with an elastic band, and let it sit on you kitchen bench out of direct sunlight for 7-10 days (I taste-test to determine this length, for me I like the 8-9 day mark).

Step 3 – Second ferment:

Tools & Ingredients:

  • Plastic (not metal) tongs, the SCOBY doesn’t like metal
  • 3 Glass “milk” bottles
  • Funnel
  • Flavour additions – lemon, ginger, turmeric, berries, mint

Method:

Remove the SCOBY with the plastic tongs and place it into a ceramic bowl (note, NO metal).

Place the funnel into one of the milk bottles, and pour the brew into the milk bottle until about 3/4 full. Seal with the milk bottle lid, and set aside.

Repeat process until almost all the brew is gone and your bottles are ¾ full each. Note, leave at least 1 cup of brew for your next batch.

This is the step you could add some flavour, and then strain/remove the flavours before putting in the fridge.

Repeat Step 2 and brew a second batch with 1 cup from previous batch, tea and sugar, allowing to cool before transferring to the SCOBY jar, where it ferments for the next week etc. etc.

Keep your milk bottles on the kitchen batch for a further 2-3 days for the second ferment.

Place in the fridge when ready, and consume as you like.

I hope this was helpful and it has inspired you to make your own buch! If your SCOBY starts to look a little funky, it might mean the environment around it has changed. Bare in mind that changes can often be fine, so I would just google it and see if someone has experienced a similar situation. Also, if you are new, I would start slow- no need to go drinking a full bottle daily! I like to have it in my fridge regularly for a sweet alternative to soda and a refreshing alternative to tea. I have a few sips here and there, and go through phases of having 1 cup every other day.

Brew & enjoy!

Sami xx

 

 

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