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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tea and Weight loss, Three Reasons For and Against

I am sure anyone that has been around the block in the tea world a few times has heard all sorts of wonderful health claims, including the magical claim that tea can help you lose weight!  Well, to go a little into my personal life again, sorry I seem to be doing this a lot lately, I have in the past year lost roughly 40 pounds, and who knows how much muscle I gained in the processes.  Well lets think about this, we've had about 5 years of The Sip Tip, and in the processes in the last year I have probably had less tea on average than each of the previous 4 years which had a slow and steady weight gain.  So what gives?

Why tea might not actually help you lose weight:

  1. While caffeine is an appetite suppressant, I've found tea tends to do just the opposite.  In fact after drinking enough strong tea on a less than full stomach I often find myself craving some fatty and oily snack.  (Read as: high in Calories).
  2. It can be easy to have the mindset that doing good, can counter doing bad.  By that I mean I've known people (and have been one myself) that use moderate exercise (burning 100-300 Calories), as an excuse to over eat way in excess of what they burnt off.  Viewing tea as something good that you have done, can lead to thinking along the lines of an extra cookie is okay.
  3. Tea can help keep you awake.  While this can be good, it has been surprising how many things I have read that actually show how beneficial a proper nights rest is in managing and attaining a healthy weight, in addition to properly allow you to recover from workouts allowing you to more quickly go out and do one again, maybe harder or longer next time.

But to talk out of both sides of my mouth, where are people coming from when they say tea can help you lose weight?  Actually there are good reasons why it can as well, but keep in mind when reading them the full implications of each one, and why you may or may not fall into that category.

Why tea might help you lose weight:
  1.  You use tea as a replacement for a highly Caloric beverage.  Quite a few of the successful tea and weight loss stories I have heard involving tea, the real reason is actually not tea, in fact the same results would have likely happened with water, coffee, or pretty much any near zero Calorie beverage.  These stories all involve the person finding tea, and liking it so much that they decide to have it in place of a Soda, flavored Latte, Alcoholic beverages, or pretty much any other high Calorie drink.  Weight loss is ultimately a numbers game, if total intake is less than total expenditure, then the body much find that additional energy elsewhere in fat and muscle mass.
  2. Tea actually has been shown to boost metabolism. Now before you jump up and down and celebrate, the increase is so small it might as well be considered non existent.  By that I mean an extra chocolate chip cookie, or brownie a year would amount to more Calories than  those burnt from the boost in Metabolism.
  3. To really speak out of both sides of my mouth on this one to go with number 3 above: tea has caffeine.  Though this applies to when you are having it early enough in the day that it does not noticeably interfere with sleep.  The caffeine when used in moderation can help give people the energy to be more active throughout the day, thus improving the number of Calories burned.
This post felt a little weird to write, but I have gotten some comments lately about how I must be losing all of this weight and improving my health due to my tea drinking.  I want to honestly say, it is not the tea, it is the activity!  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Matcha Monday (and more)

Inaugural Matcha Monday (2)

It had been far too long since I have had matcha on hand, and I need to get a whole lot more.  I have oddly realized that Matcha may actually be the ideal tea to make in an office setting.  What makes matcha ideal? Well besides the few random additional items you need to make it properly such as a whisk, there are no wet spent leaves to dispose of, as you drink all of them.  More so when you work in a building that has rules against doing any sort of dishes in any sink on the floor (possibly even building), being able to rinse out and drink from the bowl while *cleaning it* is certainly a plus.

Inaugural Matcha Monday (1)

But having fun with alliterations one day, I realized Matcha Monday sounded like a fun tradition to try and ignite.  I realized in the first Monday, which is captured in these images, that perhaps after work is not idea for a tea as powerful as Matcha (though it may have been the coffee in addition to the Matcha), so I may need to make it a habit to wake up early enough to have a bowl before work.  But I've gotten a shocking amount of praise for this teabowl, which is quitely shocking to me.

Inaugural Matcha Monday (3)

While granted, while being my own worst critic, I will admit this bowl has the least issues of all the pieces I made in my Anagama class, but that does not make it anything special at all.   It is quite pleasing though to be using a piece that at least feels like it has the proper weight to it when used.  Sadly the Koudai / foot is not incredibly pronounced but it was carved from an otherwise pinchwork bowl, which I thought had walls that were too thin until the final product came out and they were just right.

I actually highly encourage anyone to try and create some of their own tea items to use while drinking, it is rather nice to be able to enjoy tea while thinking "I made this."  But with only two *semesters* of ceramics classes under my belt, I am still incredibly skeptical of my ability to make anything resembling a functioning teapot.   I would like to be able to throw pots eventually, having in those two semesters due to a few missed classes spent less than 10 hours attempting to use the wheel for pottery.

So for the next few weeks (years, or more) does anyone want to join me in #MatchaMonday ?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tea Eye Candy!

Sencha Mix on a Snowy Saturday (1)

Honestly, I am trying to get back on a somewhat regular posting schedule, but having been sick for the past few days, and realizing I probably can't write anything new and original about drinking tea while sick, I have decided to just share some eye candy I have not posted yet to this blog.

MTR 2011 Three Stamp Shui Xian (2)

Below is a Youtube video I posted in which I did not speak, though you can hear some sounds of me brewing off camera, while I filmed the blooming process of a blooming tea. I apologize for the near complete lack of action from minutes 2-6, but I lack editing software.  (If any of my viewers knows of some affordable video editing software I would love to know!)

Keep on enjoying tea, I finally am stocked on Asamushi Sencha again, and quickly working on bringing down my supplies of Gyokuro.  Also Matcha Monday will start on the 13th!  Besides that I am fighting the good fight of cylcing through my collection.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy New Year! Tea Resolutions

Sencha Mix on a Snowy Saturday (2)

A bit late to post this on my blog, but to all my readers out there Happy New Year!  While an otherwise great 2013 fizzled out with out much ado, 2014 started off rather incredibly, and yes tea was involved. But before I get on to the tea, I want to share something I am still thrilled about, on a 5k Race I ran New Years Morning, I won my age group!  While for about 99 out of 100 5k races my time would not win my age group, heck if I do *place* I'd often be fighting closely for 3rd.   Call it weather, or luck of the field this race, but my time of 22:21 was enough to put me on top of my age group!  I am still a bit amazed at how far I have come with running since I set out to try and make it a habit to improve my fitness, a year ago I struggled to run a single mile significantly under 9 minutes per mile, let alone 3.1 of them at an average of 7:13 minutes per mile.

So now for the tea resolutions!  I am going to continue with my "return to practice for tea brewing" which has already helped me focus on tea in ways I have nearly forgotten I could use to brew tea effectively.  For those of you that like my tea videos, I am going to commit myself to one new one a month, and really try for two new videos each month.  In a rather odd twist for a resolution, I am going to declare 2014 "the year of the return customer"  by that I mean I am really not going to seek out many new vendors, but rather focus on getting my tea purchases from tea vendors whose products I have liked in the past, and have earned in a certain sense a great deal of trust from myself that they will continue to source and sell quality products.

My very first tea purchase for 2014 was with a vendor of which I am quite fond.  Charaku Tea out of the Seattle area,  fitting into the theme of the return customer, at least with their sencha, I have always been thrilled with the qualities of their tea especially given their prices.  This included a some Matcha, and a tea resolution I hope to keep up with as often as  I have matcha  in stock, would be on social networking sites, try and start a #MatchaMonday theme, in which I will post a picture of the matcha I enjoy each Monday.

Also,  I am not sure my readers have fully appreciated this, but I am quite fond of making others happy when ever possible/ feasible.  So if there is something that you want to see more of in 2014 please don't hesitate to comment, and let me know what you want to see.

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