Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tulsi / Holy Basil: Research Motivated by Taste

I just researched and created an article on Tulsi / Holy Basil.

The interesting thing about this article is that this was an herbal tea that I had not "naturally" stumbled upon in the course of adding teas to RateTea, something I've been doing for months now. I have added all of the teas from a number of tea companies, including Adagio, Rishi, Teavana, and a number of smaller companies. While I haven't checked to see whether or not these or other companies blend tulsi into their teas (I know Yogi does), I do know that these companies don't carry a pure tulsi blend.

How did I find out about this plant? I have been sampling many of Upton Tea Import's teas, and I ordered a sample of their green- and purple-leaf tulsi teas. I tried the purple-leaf variety first, and I fell in love with the first sip...this stuff is delicious. (My review of Upton's Purple-leaf Tulsi on RateTea)

Interestingly, it was the taste and overall experience of drinking the tea that motivated me to start researching the plant. I was surprised to find a huge amount of scientific literature on this plant, a plant which I had barely heard of and knew nothing about before seeing it in Upton's catalogue. Although a lot of the research is young and preliminary to a degree, there's a great diversity of research out there, and the evidence mostly points in the direction of this plant having numerous health benefits...I had to pick and choose a few studies that highlighted the various beneficial properties of this plant. This whole experience seems to reinforce my strange idea that taste can possibly be a guide to health...

View the results of my research: Tulsi / Holy Basil

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tea & Health: Beyond Chemistry?

A post on Vicki's Nutritonal and Wellness Blog draws attention to a study that found that positive emotions and positive attitude actually has more of an impact on health than nutrition. Negative attitude, stress, anger, and that whole complex of feelings and ways of being are associated with a myriad of negative impacts on health.

The health benefits of tea are frequently touted, and some of them (such as antioxidant activity) have become fairly well-established scientifically. But nearly all of the studies I've found about these benefits focus on the biochemical aspects of tea.

Could the health benefits of tea be partly due to how making and drinking tea slows you down?

It seems almost too common-sense to be true...a cup of hot can't chug it on the run...even if you're in a hurry you need to slow down to sip it, you need to wait to let it cool. And if you make it yourself, even from a hot water tap in an office, you need to take time out of your day to brew it. It slows you down, relaxes you, helps you let go some of that stress and get into a better place...

Maybe some of the health benefits of tea stem not from the chemistry of the drink itself, but from the process of making and drinking it, and the effect that process has on your mind and body. This would certainly not be any news to those versed in eastern philosophy or Chinese medicine...but to an overly-scientific western mind, it's an innovative idea...and it would certainly be worth it for the scientists to give it some consideration.

Just a thought!